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The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery…
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The Violent Bear It Away (1960)

by Flannery O'Connor

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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Flannery O'Connor has always been hit or miss for me. Her novel "The Violent Bear It Away" struck me as an odd little book -- in that it feels like you are supposed to root for Tarwater's redemption and decision to sink into his religion, even though his requires a violent and terrible act.

Tarwater was essentially kidnapped by his uncle, who was a religious zealot, in the hopes he will carry on his uncle's message after he is gone. Tarwater follows in the footsteps of another relative who had a similar experience but rejected his uncle's teachings.

O'Connor's work is never going to end on a happy note, and this novel definitely doesn't. I'm not entirely sure that I completely understand what O'Connor was getting at -- but there are certainly a lot of religious motifs to chew over in this one, if that's your kind of thing. ( )
  amerynth | Jul 4, 2018 |
This was intense. Sad, troubled people and religious fervor as a type of insanity. It was relentless. O'Connor is a good writer, that's for sure, but I couldn't stomach the topic of this book. Maybe her writing, usually described as Southern Gothic, just isn't for me.

Basically, in the oldest generation we meet, a man is insane and his point of focus is the Bible, God's wrath, and baptizing. All the women in his family are whores, according to him, and he kidnaps his nephew when he's seven to "save him". The parents get him back, but a generation later he kidnaps his great-nephew in infanthood and raises him until age 14. He dies and the 14-year-old, Tarwater, goes to find his uncle, the man his great-uncle kidnapped at age 7. At this point, though, Tarwater has been raised in isolation being inundated with all of the religious ideas of an insane man and he finds a streak of insanity in himself.

It's not really giving anything away to say there is no happy ending here. Though I think [Flannery O'Connor] is an important author, I'm not sure many will really enjoy this book. ( )
1 vote japaul22 | Jun 6, 2018 |
If I did not know that O'Connor was a devout Catholic, I would say this is the boldest frontal attack on Christianity I have ever read. To hell with Hitchens, I laugh at you Bertrand Russell, you should bow to Ms. Flannery who has made Christianity look repugnant and made Christians look like ruthless bullies and imbeciles. Take me back to the spectacular short stories. God as my witness I will never read a Flannery O'Connor novel again. ( )
  Narshkite | Aug 2, 2016 |
I should like it, really I should, but I've come to the conclusion I don't like books about sad little lives regardless of how deep the real meaning of the book is. ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
Extreme Religion vs. Humanism: seemingly neither wins, but O'Connor is most critical of the humanistic Rayber. One of the best descriptions comes from a waitress at a restaurant: "Its face [Tarwater's] was like the face she had seen in some medieval paintings where the martyr's limbs are being sawed off and his expression says he is being deprived of nothing essential . . . . The face for her had expressed the depth of human perversity, the deadly sin of rejecting defiantly one's own obvious good." They didn't understand that Tarwater wasn't being deprived of anything essential. What the humanist thought was for his good was unessential when compared to the bread of life. ( )
  memlhd | Jan 23, 2016 |
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Francis Marion Tarwater's uncle had been dead for only half a day when the boy got too drunk to finish digging his grave and a Negro named Buford Munson, who had come to get a jug filled, had to finish it and drag the body from the breakfast table where it was still sitting and bury it in a decent and Christian way, with the sign of its Saviour at the head of the grave and enough dirt on top to keep the dogs from digging it up.
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He kept himself upright on a very narrow line between madness and emptiness, and when the time came for him to lose his balance, he intended to lurch toward emptiness and fall on the side of his choice.
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"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away." Matthew 11:12.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374530874, Paperback)

First published in 1955, The Violent Bear It Away is now a landmark in American literature. It is a dark and absorbing example of the Gothic sensibility and bracing satirical voice that are united in Flannery O'Conner's work. In it, the orphaned Francis Marion Tarwater and his cousins, the schoolteacher Rayber, defy the prophecy of their dead uncle--that Tarwater will become a prophet and will baptize Rayber's young son, Bishop. A series of struggles ensues: Tarwater fights an internal battle against his innate faith and the voices calling him to be a prophet while Rayber tries to draw Tarwater into a more "reasonable" modern world. Both wrestle with the legacy of their dead relatives and lay claim to Bishop's soul.

O'Connor observes all this with an astonishing combination of irony and compassion, humor and pathos. The result is a novel whose range and depth reveal a brilliant and innovative writers acutely alert to where the sacred lives and to where it does not.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:56 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

First published in 1955, this book is a dark and absorbing example of the Gothic sensibility and bracing satirical voice that are united in Flannery O'Conner's work. In it, the orphaned Francis Marion Tarwater and his cousins, the schoolteacher Rayber, defy the prophecy of their dead uncle--that Tarwater will become a prophet and will baptize Rayber's young son, Bishop. A series of struggles ensues. Tarwater fights an internal battle against his innate faith and the voices calling him to be a prophet while Rayber tries to draw Tarwater into a more "reasonable" modern world. Both wrestle with the legacy of their dead relatives and lay claim to Bishop's soul..… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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