American Gargoyles

American Gargoyles

Flannery O'Connor and the Medieval Grotesque

eBook - 1995
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Focusing here on the comic genius of Flannery O’Connor’s fiction, Anthony Di Renzo reveals a dimension of the author’s work that has been overlooked by both her supporters and her detractors, most of whom have heretofore concentrated exclusively on her use of theology and parable.

Noting an especial kinship between her characters and the grotesqueries that adorn the margins of illuminated manuscripts and the facades of European cathedrals, he argues that O’Connor’s Gothicism brings her tales closer in spirit to the English mystery cycles and the leering gargoyles of medieval architecture than to the Gothic fiction of Poe and Hawthorne to which critics have so often linked her work.

Relying partly on Mikhail Bakhtin’s analysis of Rabelais, Di Renzo examines the different forms of the grotesque in O’Connor’s fiction and the parallels in medieval art, literature, and folklore. He begins by demonstrating that the figure of Christ is the ideal behind her satire?an ideal, however, that must be degraded as well as exalted if it is ever to be a living presence in the physical world. Di Renzo goes on to discuss O’Connor’s unusual treatment of the human body and its relationship to medieval fabliaux. He depicts the interplay between the saintly and the demonic in her work, illustrating how for her good is just as grotesque as evil because it is still "something under construction."



Blackwell North Amer
Focusing on the comic genius of Flannery O'Connor, Anthony Di Renzo reveals a dimension of her work that has been overlooked by both her supporters and her detractors, most of whom have concentrated exclusively on her use of theology and parable.
Di Renzo compares the bizarre comedy in O'Connor's stories and novels to that of medieval narrative, art, folklore, and drama. Noting an especial kinship between her characters and the grotesqueries that adorn the margins of illuminated manuscripts and the facades of European cathedrals, he argues that O'Connor's Gothicism brings her tales closer in spirit to the English mystery cycles and the leering gargoyles of medieval architecture than to the Gothic fiction of Poe and Hawthorne with which critics have so often linked her work.
For Di Renzo the grotesqueness of O'Connor's strange comedy is not a limitation but an accomplishment, deeply rooted in medieval art and satire. O'Connor's peculiar world, he insists, must be accepted on its own terms without consideration of whether it is "ugly." Like the monstrosities carved on the walls at the monastery of Clairvaux, which St. Bernard describes in a famous letter, O'Connor's characters - her rednecks and misfits, her selfish matrons and berserk evangelists - are "deformis formosita ac formosa deformitas," beautifully hideous, hideously beautiful.
Relying partly on Mikhail Bakhtin's analysis of Rabelais, Di Renzo examines the different forms of the grotesque in O'Connor's fiction and their parallels in medieval art, literature, and folklore. He begins by demonstrating that the figure of Christ is the ideal behind her satire - an ideal, however, that must be degraded as well as exalted if it is ever to be a living presence in the physical world. Di Renzo goes on to discuss O'Connor's unusual treatment of the human body and its relationship to medieval fabliaux. He depicts the interplay between the saintly and the demonic in her work, illustrating how for her good is just as grotesque as evil because it is still "something under construction." And finally he argues that apocalypse is the culmination of the grotesque in O'Connor's fiction; it is a renewal in destruction, a violent juxtaposition of death and rebirth. For Flannery O'Connor Judgment Day is a cosmic Mardi Gras.

Publisher: Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press, 1995
ISBN: 9780585029580
058502958X
0809320304
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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