Creating Flannery O'Connor
Her Critics, Her Publishers, Her Readers
University of Georgia Press 2016
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in BiographyNew Books in Literary StudiesNew Books in LiteratureNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network November 1, 2016 Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed
Daniel Moran’s Creating Flannery O’Connor: Her Critics, Her Publishers, Her Readers (University of Georgia Press, 2016) provides a compelling investigation of how O’Connor’s initial reputation of a Southern female writer over the years evolved into her status of great American writer. The subtitle of the book–Her Critics, Her Publishers, Her Readers–hints at a variety of details contributing to a literary multilayered portrait. In his research, Dr. Moran considers a number of critical reviews, readers reactions, and publishers commercial decisions while following the trajectory of O’Connor’s reputation. In the introduction, Dr. Moran notes that his book is “less a work of literary criticism than of a book history and cultural analysis” (9). His research invites a discussion of how the perception of literary texts is (or can be) shaped through conversations about them. Creating Flannery O’Connor draws on the theory of “rules of notice”–readers are supplied with keys to read and understand literary works and instigates a number of questions, which Dr. Moran addresses while de-constructing O’Connor’s portrait. Who identifies” rules of notice?” How, if at all, do they change? What do they inform about texts and their authors?
If the initial reputation of O’Connor was primarily shaped by critical reviews, as years and decades elapsed since the publication of her early writings the environment that surrounds, absorbs, and modifies O’Connor’s works has, undoubtedly, significantly changed. To his survey of reputation production media, Dr. Moran adds the film industry and online resources: each domain presents O’Connor’s works from a different perspective. Through the de-construction of O’Connor’s literary portrait that has been created over decades through a number of venues, Dr. Moran re-creates a new version: elusive, fluid, and changing.
Daniel Moran teaches history at Monmouth University; he has taught English at Rutgers University.