Monday, September 14, 2015

Hidden in the Corners

When people come into the "big house" here at Andalusia, their first stop isn't difficult to predict: the sign-in sheet and donation box (at least, if I have any influence to offer).  The second attraction is close by: Flannery's room. Cordoned off as it is, there are a few things of hers that are difficult to see; some are really hidden in plain sight.

The eye, upon first looking into Flannery's room, is drawn, of course, to the typewriter on the desk, located directly behind the wardrobe.  I admire anyone who can write the alphabet, much less enduring literature, while facing a closet.   There's a method to that madness, though: sunlight streams onto that desk over the course of the daylight hours thanks to the array of windows on the front wall of the room. That layout may be practical, but I imagine it no doubt helps one focus: facing the windows would have no doubt hindered the reflections necessary to find divine truth in Flannery's own life and those of her characters.

Several years ago, my predecessor in this space, Mark, catalogued Flannery's record collection here.  Flannery certainly loved her classical music.  She and I have high-church choral music in common.  The exception to all the classical is Souer Sourire, Jeanne Decker at her birth and the Singing Nun to Americans, who had an international hit in 1962 with "Dominique." "Sister Smile," as her stage name is translated, took her own life in 1985, citing severe financial difficulties. In order to reinvigorate her musical career and pay off some debts, Decker released a heavily synthesized, disco version of "Dominique" in 1982. This re-recording failed to gain traction.  I've no doubt Flannery would, had she lived to hear it, have offered up some trenchant commentary on why the new version of the old hit didn't serve its purpose.

The mantel has some intriguing pieces that are either hidden by the wardrobe in the middle of the room or are too small to be seen clearly from the doorway. A picture of Flannery from what appears to be her late teenage years and a pill bottle tell a story all too succinctly of her time in Milledgeville: school and then a return several years later due to lupus. There are books, too, of course: a series of paperback novels that aren't nearly as well-used as the Aquinas and Bible on the nightstand.

I hope you're inspired to linger a little while more at Flannery's doorway on your next visit to Andalusia; you'll likely spot something I've passed over or be reminded of a passage from your favorite story that has slipped back in the recesses of my memory.  We look forward to seeing you!

--Daniel Wilkinson's blog entries are sponsored by James Keller & Sons Marmalade, available where all fine jams and jellies are sold in 1862.  Keller & Sons: Only the Best for the Best Visitor Services Bon Vivants