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Flannery O'Connor

  • Enoch never nagged his blood to tell him a thing until it was ready.

  • She would of been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "The Misfit," A Good Man Is Hard to Find ()
  • If we forget our past, we won't remember our future and it will be as well because we won't have one.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "A Late Encounter With the Enemy," A Good Man Is Hard to Find ()
  • Living had got to be such a habit with him that he couldn't conceive of any other condition.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "A Late Encounter With the Enemy," A Good Man Is Hard to Find ()
  • They were drinking ginger ale on her front porch and she kept rattling the ice in her glass, rattling her beads, rattling her bracelet like an impatient pony jingling its harness.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "The Displaced Person," A Good Man Is Hard to Find ()
  • Mrs. Hopewell had no bad qualities of her own but she was able to use other people's in such a constructive way that she never felt the lack.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "Good Country People," A Good Man Is Hard to Find ()
  • It is always difficult to get across to people who are not professional writers that a talent to write does not mean a talent to write anything at all.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • introduction, A Memoir of Mary Ann ()
  • She was a good Christian woman with a large respect for religion, through she did not, of course, believe any of it was true.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "Greenleaf," Everything That Rises Must Converge ()
  • 'Somebody that's not busy call for the ambulance,' said the doctor in the off-hand voice young doctors adopt for terrible occasions.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "Revelation," Everything That Rises Must Converge ()
  • Once someone like her got a leg in the conversation, she would be all over it.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "Revelation," Everything That Rises Must Converge ()
  • The idea of being a writer attracts a good many shiftless people, those who are merely burdened with poetic feelings or afflicted with sensibility.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • in Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, ed., Mystery and Manners ()
  • I find that most people know what a story is until they sit down to write one.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • in Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, ed., Mystery and Manners ()
  • ... the writer is initially set going by literature more than by life.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • in Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, ed., Mystery and Manners ()
  • The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • in Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, ed., Mystery and Manners ()
  • The high-school English teacher will be fulfilling his responsibility if he furnishes the student a guided opportunity, through the best writing of the past, to come, in time, to an understanding of the best writing of the present. ... And if the student finds that this is not to his taste? Well, that is regrettable. Most regrettable. His taste should not be consulted; it is being formed.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "Total Effect and the Eighth Grade," in Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, ed., Mystery and Manners ()
  • ... the basic experience of everyone is the experience of human limitation.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • in Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, ed., Mystery and Manners ()
  • ... art transcends its limitations only by staying within them.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • in Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, ed., Mystery and Manners ()
  • Fiction is about everything human and we are made out of dust, and if you scorn getting yourself dusty, then you shouldn't write fiction. It isn't grand enough for you.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "The Nature and Aim of Fiction," in Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, ed., Mystery and Manners ()
  • We hear a great deal of lamentation these days about writers having all taken themselves to the colleges and universities where they live decorously instead of going out and getting firsthand information about life. The fact is that anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days. If you can't make something out of a little experience, you probably won't be able to make it out of a lot. The writer's business is to contemplate experience, not to be merged in it.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "The Nature and Aim of Fiction," in Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, ed., Mystery and Manners ()
  • Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "The Nature and Aim of Fiction," in Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, ed., Mystery and Manners ()
  • There is no excuse for anyone to write fiction for public consumption unless he has been called to do so by the presence of a gift. It is the nature of fiction not to be good for much unless it is good in itself.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "The Nature and Aim of Fiction," in Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, ed., Mystery and Manners ()
  • No art is sunk in the self, but rather, in art the self becomes self-forgetful in order to meet the demands of the thing seen and the thing being made.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "The Nature and Aim of Fiction," in Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, ed., Mystery and Manners ()
  • You ought to be able to discover something from your stories. If you don't, probably nobody else will.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "The Nature and Aim of Fiction," in Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, ed., Mystery and Manners ()
  • He looked like a goat. He had little raisin eyes and a string beard ...

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "A Stroke of Good Fortune," The Complete Stories ()
  • When a book leaves your hands, it belongs to God. He may use it to save a few souls, or to try a few others, but I think that for the writer to worry is to take over God's business.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • Unadaptability is often a virtue.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1957, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • I was a very ancient twelve; my views at that age would have done credit to a Civil War veteran. I am much younger now than I was at twelve or anyway, less burdened. The weight of the centuries lies on children, I'm sure of it.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1956, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • The two worst sins of bad taste in fiction are pornography and sentimentality. One is too much sex and the other too much sentiment.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1956, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • The novel is an art form and when you use it for anything other than art, you pervert it.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1956, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • I certainly am glad you like the stories because now I feel it's not bad that I like them so much. The truth is I like them better than anybody and I read them over and over and laugh and laugh, then get embarrassed when I remember I was the one wrote them.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1955, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • Dogma can in no way limit a limitless God.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1955, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • It is hard to make your adversaries real people unless you recognize yourself in them — in which case, if you don't watch out, they cease to be adversaries.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1956, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • I have never been anywhere but sick. In a sense sickness is a place, more instructive than a long trip to Europe, and it's always a place where there's no company, where nobody can follow. Sickness before death is a very appropriate thing and I think those who don't have it miss one of God's mercies.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1956, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • To expect too much is to have a sentimental view of life, and this is a softness that ends in bitterness.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • Conviction without experience makes for harshness.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • ... time is very dangerous without a rigid routine. If you do the same thing every day at the same time for the same length of time, you'll save yourself from many a sink. Routine is a condition of survival.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1962, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • Policy and politics generally go contrary to principle.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1955, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it emotionally.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1955, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • ... I am also five three and in the neighborhood of one thirty. It is a neighborhood I would like to get out of ...

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1955, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • I don't deserve any credit for turning the other cheek as my tongue is always in it.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • I never understand how writers can succumb to vanity — what you work the hardest on is usually the worst.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1955, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • Purity strikes me as the most mysterious of the virtues and the more I think about it the less I know about it.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1955, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • Success means being heard and don't stand there and tell me that you are indifferent to being heard. You may write for the joy of it, but the act of writing is not complete in itself. It has to end in its audience.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1961, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • Writing is a good example of self-abandonment. I never completely forget myself except when I am writing and I am never more completely myself than when I am writing.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1961, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • Doctors always think anybody doing something they aren't is a quack; also they think all patients are idiots.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1961, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • A story has to have muscle as well as meaning, and the meaning has to be in the muscle.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1959, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1959, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • I don't think you should write something as long as a novel around anything that is not of the gravest concern to you and everybody else and for me this is always the conflict between an attraction for the Holy and the disbelief in it that we breathe in with the air of the times.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1959, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • I am not afraid the book will be controversial, I'm afraid it will not be controversial.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1959, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • I am very handy with my advice and then when anybody appears to be following it, I get frantic.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1956, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • Elizabeth Hardwick told me once that all her first drafts sounded as if a chicken had written them. So do mine for the most part.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • ... Simone Weil is a mystery that should keep us all humble, and I need it more than most. Also she's the example of the religious consciousness without a religion which maybe sooner or later I will be able to write about.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1956, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • One of the effects of modern liberal Protestantism has been gradually to turn religion into poetry and therapy, to make truth vaguer and vaguer and more and more relative, to banish intellectual distinctions, to depend on feeling instead of thought, and gradually to come to believe that God has no power, that he cannot communicate with us, cannot reveal himself to us, indeed has not done so, and that religion is our own sweet invention.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • 1956, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • When in Rome, do as you done in Milledgeville.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • of Milledgeville, Georgia, in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being ()
  • Many times I just sit for three hours with no ideas coming to me. But I know one thing: if an idea does come between nine and twelve, I am there ready for it.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • in Donald Morison Murray, A Writer Teaches Writing ()
  • The meaning of the story is the story.

    • Flannery O'Connor
  • You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd.

    • Flannery O'Connor
  • Accepting oneself does not preclude an attempt to become better.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • in Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor ()
  • The artist prays by creating.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "The Enduring Chill," The Complete Stories ()

Flannery O'Connor, U.S. writer

(1925 - 1964)

Full name: Mary Flannery O’Connor.