Hillbilly Thomist

Flannery O’Connor, St. Thomas and the Limits of Art


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About the Book

In the spirit of St. Thomas Aquinas, the writings of Flannery O’Connor’s concern for place can best be seen in the immediacies of things and persons. It is in relation to St. Thomas’ teaching, then, that O’Connor becomes comfortable in her “place,” Andalusia, that small farm just outside the small town of Milledgeville in middle Georgia. The abiding relationship between place—Andalusia or elsewhere—and a person comes out of human nature itself, evidenced in a person’s experiences of things in this place at this time.
With that as background, this detailed analysis of O’Connor’s works lays to rest the author’s own self-deprecating description of herself as a “hillbilly” Thomist. Instead we see in O’Connor’s writing a highly sophisticated mind, an inconvenience to the many critics who dismiss her as anti-intellectual.

About the Author(s)

The late Marion Montgomery was professor emeritus of English at the University of Georgia. In 2003, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute honored Montgomery with the Gerhart Niemeyer Award for Distinguished Contributions to Scholarship in Liberal Arts. He lived in Crawford, Georgia.

Bibliographic Details

Marion Montgomery
Format: softcover (7 x 10 in 2 vols.)
Pages: 706
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2283-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Volume 1
Acknowledgments      vi
Preface      1

1. Settling In at Andalusia      9
2. In Company with Good Country People      22
3. Glimpsing a Peacock’s Underwear      43
4. From Lethe to the Mississippi: Shall We Gather at the River?      60
5. Sorting Truth at the Surface of Things      80
6. At Risk in the Wilderness of Theory      115
7. Out of Essential Displacement, Toward a Felt Balance      144
8. Miss Flannery in Cahoots with the Devil      169
9. Coincidence of the Moral and Dramatic Senses      184
10. The Intellectual Air We Breathe in Skating the Surfaces      211
11. The Cannibal of Thought: Modernist Theory      243
12. Getting Dusty, Even Muddy, in the Swamp of the Self      274
13. Moral and Dramatic Problematics of Metaphor      303

Volume 2
14. The Poet and His Implied Attitude      329
15. Writing about the Whole World: The Challenge of the Local to Reason in Making      356
16. Reason Seeking Answering Reason in Things: The Philosopher as Poet, the Poet as Philosopher      386
17. Connecting Two Points—Two Countries—with Images      425
18. Uncertain Images, Entangling Metaphors: The Long Pursuit of Meaning      458
19. The Sentimentality of Being Half in Love with Easeful Death      487
20. The Mystery of Form: Discovering the Word in Our Words      518
21. Homo Viator on the Threshold of the Far Country: Here, Now, Always      540
22. His Presence in Things, Our Fingerprints on Words      565
23. Our Pursuit of Nothingness, Artifice as Idol      591
Afterword      614

Appendix A: Eric Voegelin and Flannery O’Connor on the Disjunction of Grace and Nature      625
Appendix B: Concerning Thomistic Epistemology      628
Appendix C: Concerning Thomas’ “Principle of Proper Proportionality”      634
Appendix D: Concerning O’Connor’s Fictional Strategy of Indirection      639
Appendix E: Concerning the Artist and Prudential Humility      649
Chapter Notes [for both volumes]      659
Selected Bibliography      677
Index      681

Book Reviews & Awards

“engaging…readers…will be rewarded in reading [Montgomery]”—Modern Age; “a monumental book”—The Charlotte World; “massive work”—First Things; “I regard Marion Montgomery as one of the most acute and profound critics of present-day American culture. He brings to his discussion of it penetrating insight and solid scholarship.”—Cleanth Brooks.