As the recently hired Visitor Services Manager of the Flannery O'Connor-Andalusia Foundation I have been asked to write a short entry on this blog to introduce myself. To begin with let me say that it is indeed an honor and a privilege to work at Andalusia. While I cannot claim to be a long-time admirer of O'Connor - indeed I read her for the first time this spring - my discovery of her powerful fiction at the age of 52 consititutes the great literary find of my life. It is sometimes hard to believe that one of the giants of twentieth-century literature lived right here in middle Georgia and that I have the good fortune to be working at the place where she penned her novels and stories. How did this all happen?
On a bright day in early June, my wife, Judy, and I visited Andalusia for the first time. As we turned into the driveway off Highway 441 we left behind the strip malls, fast food restaurants, and chain motels cluttering the landscape and entered the cloistered serentity of another time. Crossing the peaceful fields and pasture land, the main house slowly came into view. I could almost picture Flannery standing on the front porch waiting to greet us. I will never forget walking through the front door and peering into Flannery's room. Athough I have been to the homes of a number of writers, never had I felt so close to an author as I did at that moment. Andalusia exerted almost a magnetic pull and it was very hard to leave, even after spending two hours at the farm. Not surprisingly, Judy and I returned the following week for another visit. I don't know what motivated me, but during that visit I asked Craig out of the blue if he could use any volunteers. To my delight, he said he could.
Little did I imagine when I started volunteering on July 6th that my work at Andalusia would turn into a job that is such a labor of love. It is a pleasure to work for Craig, and I want to thank him and the members of the Andalusia board for this opportunity. I look forward to sharing my enthusiasm for Flannery O'Connor with our visitors and to promoting an increased appreciation and understanding of her great literary achievements.
- Mark Jurgensen
Friday, October 23, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
If you are reading this blog you are probably already aware of the Foundation's website, which may have brought you here in the first place. You may be interested to know that our website is getting over a million hits a year, with the number of unique visitors (individual visits to the website) reaching over 32,000 over the last twelve months. A search on Google using either the term "Andalusia" or the name "Flannery O'Connor" consistently brings up the Foundation's website in the top five hits. The top five countries of origin for the website's visitors outside the U.S. this year make quite an intriguing list: Russian Federation, Canada, China, Romania, and Great Britain. In addition to biographical details on O'Connor and the history of Andalusia, the website offers information about the Foundation, the gift shop, related news, events, environmental education, and teaching resources. There are plenty of photographs too. If you haven't explored the website, please make a point to do so at www.andalusiafarm.org.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Regina O'Connor left a good portion of the furniture and furnishings of her daughter's bedroom/study in place after Flannery O'Connor died in 1964. Mrs. O'Connor returned to the Cline family home in downtown Milledgeville to live the rest of her life, dying in 1995 at the age of 99. Visitors to Andalusia are informed that O'Connor's desk, chair, and typewriter on display in the room are not original because her mother donated those, along with a few other pieces from the house, to Georgia College back in the early 1970s. Some family members and friends received original artifacts as gifts from Mrs. O'Connor after her daughter's death, and some of those generous individuals have given these objects to the Foundation to be placed back in Flannery O'Connor's bedroom. The latest of these gifts is a bronze crucifix, engraved on one side as follows: "FLANNERY FROM THE SISTERS CHRISTMAS 1962" and on the other side: "PER IPSUM ET CUM IPSO ET IN IPSO" (translated: Through Him, and with Him, and in Him). We assume it was a gift from the sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Care hospice center in Atlanta, for whom O'Connor wrote the introduction to A Memoir of Mary Ann (1961). We are very grateful for this valuable artifact, along with the others that have found their way back to Andalusia, thanks to the generosity of our Friends.