Friday, September 20, 2013

Love from New York

It is indeed ironic that nearly fifty years after her death, Flannery O'Connor is finally getting her due from The New Yorker.  Even more ironic is the fact that the magazine is devoting so much space to a work of a religious nature.  I think Flannery would find it pretty unbelievable that the esteemed journal that once rejected her cartoons and dismissed her prose would deign to publish a review of her forthcoming prayer journal in the Sept. 16th issue (unfortunately, the article is unavailable online without a subscription).  Though O'Connor continued to read The New Yorker throughout her life, she had serious issues with its editorial philosophy - see for example her letter to Betty Hester where she refers to it as "moronic." (The Habit of Being, p. 90).  Perhaps O'Connor was predisposed to dislike the magazine since it rejected the Thurberesque cartoons she had the temerity to submit when she was just a teenager (see her letter to Janet McKane - The Habit of Being, p. 536).  Perhaps she felt, with some justification, that they dismissed her too easily.  For her part, O'Connor could be equally dismissive of The New Yorker, whose critic panned The Violent Bear It Away in a "nasty," one paragraph review.  When Elizabeth Fenwick Way sent Flannery a clipping of it, O'Connor replied sardonically: "Thanks for the love letter from the New Yorker." (The Habit of Being, p. 388).
- Mark

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