It is a measure of her greatness, perhaps, that although she would be only sixty-four years old if she were still among us, Flannery O’Connor—who passed away a quarter-century ago in her native Georgia, at the age of thirty-nine—seems already to belong to the ages. Typically, an author’s literary reputation declines precipitously once he is no longer around to keep it going, but O’Connor’s reputation has grown steadily in the years since her death; her two extremely impressive (if ultimately unsuccessful) novels, Wise Blood (1952) and The Violent Bear It Away (1960), have continued to earn the respect and interest of intelligent readers, and—far more important—a number of her three dozen or so short stories, the majority of which appeared originally in either A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955) or Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965),...


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