Saturday, October 26, 2013

When in Rome do as you done in Milledgeville

Flannery O'Connor's home (for the last fourteen years of her life), is about 90 minutes south of Athens. Last week, one of my oldest friends from SC came up for a visit, and we made a day trip to visit her digs. First, a stop in picturesque Madison (where I ended up buying something from an antique store!). I'd last been in Milledgeville in July, 2010.

In Milledgeville, some time at Sacred Heart parish, the Old Capitol Building, and of course Andalusia. I picked up a paperback collection of her fiction (which I actually don't own!), a good companion to my copy of "The Habit of Being" (the collection of her correspondence). We also visited her grave.

Sacred Heart Church, Milledgeville 
In 2008, UGA press published a delightful volume entitled "A Literary Guide to Flannery O'Connor's Georgia," which includes photos and descriptions of all the places associated with her life in Savannah and Milledgeville. I highly recommend it.

Other works that have been recommended to me, which I haven't gotten to yet: Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South by Ralph C. Wood, and The Province of Joy: Praying with Flannery O'Connor.

At Andalusia, the docent told us that a new book of her prayer journals, or really, her "letters to God" was being released very soon. The Atlantic magazine has an article on this soon-to-be-released book, which mentions this new release:
This month FSG publishes A Prayer Journal, the contents of a devotional notebook that O’Connor—a turbocharged Catholic—kept from January 1946 to September 1947, while she was a student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. It is a miraculous and rather terrifying document, both a blueprint for her fiction and a prophetic dreaming-out of her life’s purpose and pattern: letters to God, basically, from a woman in her early 20s who would later tell a correspondent that she was a Catholic, “not like someone else would be a Baptist or a Methodist, but like someone else would be an atheist.”

The Aquinas Center at Emory had a lecture back in September on Flannery O'Connor, presented by Ralph Woods. (Note to self, get on their email list!)
“I will seek to make the case that the enduring importance of Flannery O’Connor’s work derives, at least in part, from its profound kinship with the fiction and vision of Fyodor Dostoevsky, especially as the latter is exhibited in ‘The Brothers Karamazov,’” Wood says of the lecture. “The essence of this kinship, I will maintain, lies in their willingness to ask the hardest of questions and their refusal to give facile answers to them. This deep affinity, I will further argue, is found in the uncanny likeness between Flannery O’Connor’s remarkable 1952 self-portrait and the most famous of all Orthodox icons, the 6th century Christ Pantocrator from Mt. Sinai.”
2014 will be fifty years since the death of this remarkable writer and Southern Catholic icon. There will be, I'm sure, some academic conferences and other events to commemorate this. I do think the Archdiocese needs to also organize something as well.

A link to all the photos from the trip to Milledgeville, on Google+ 

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