Habit of Being

Habit of Being

The Letters of Flannery O'Connor

by Flannery O'Connor, Sally Fitzgerald (Editor)
©1979, Item: 92981
Hardcover, 617 pages
Not in stock

Letters, selected and edited by Sally Fitzgerald

These letters provide an illuminating self-portrait of the artist as a remarkable young woman whose lineaments, guessed at from a distance, have often been forbiddingly misdrawn. There are warm and funny personal letters to literary friends—Caroline Gordon, Robert Fitzgerald, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, J. F. Powers, Walker Percy, Elizabeth Bishop, Granville Hicks, to name a few—as well as to old friends who knew her in college, and to new ones she encountered through correspondence and met only later or, in some instances, never met at all: Thomas and Louise Gossett, Charlotte Gafford, William Sessions, Louise Abbott, Ted Spivey, Father John McCown, John Lynch, Janet McKane, and others. There are the vivid letters she wrote during the last seven years of her life to Maryat Lee, a fellow Southerner, to whom she wrote with a mocking playfulness that sharply pointed up the seriousness of what she had to say. Social attitudes she knew would meet with disapproval she made no effort to suppress, to any of her correspondents. The letters to her long-time literary agent and friend, Elizabeth McKee; to Catharine Carver and to Robert Giroux trace the business of her literary life and provide amusing glimpses of the youthful Flannery O'Connor being very much herself in the publishing lions' den. An important group of letters, unique in character, to a friend who is called "A.," bring her into closest range.

Flannery O'Connor referred often, in talks and in occasional pieces, to the concept she had learned from the writings of Jacques Maritain, of the "habit of art"—defined as a quality or virtue of the mind essential to the artist. Her development as a writer did not proceed as something separate from her life as she lived it. Her letters reveal a personality continually ascending in its aliveness, in strength, humor, and generosity—acquiring, as it were, together with the habit of art, the habit of being.

from the dust jacket

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