Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood, New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1952

  1. Christopher MacGowan

Published Online: 24 FEB 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781444393675.ch51

The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook

The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook

How to Cite

MacGowan, C. (2011) Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood, New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1952, in The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444393675.ch51

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 24 FEB 2012
  2. Published Print: 21 JAN 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405160230

Online ISBN: 9781444393675



  • Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood (1952);
  • Flannery O'Connor, began writing her only two novels in 1946 - while living and studying in Iowa City for her MFA degree;
  • O'Connor's rising reputation - led her later publishers Farrar, Straus and Giroux, to reissue the book in 1962;
  • O'Connor's central characters - the ferocity of Hazel Motes' attempts to deny original sin, and his need for salvation, reflecting the greater power of the spiritual truth he refuses to acknowledge;
  • friendless Enoch Emory, seeking a transcendent meaning - in material objects and self-invented rituals;
  • Emory, thinking of Hazel's denial of Christ - a source of potential friendship between the two, not seeing beyond the superficial parallels to what, for O'Connor, are their similar urgent spiritual needs;
  • material values of two other women - in the novel, associated more with sexual temptation;
  • characters in O'Connor's fiction, lazy and trapped in habit - thinking for themselves, speaking in cliches when making moral judgments;
  • in Wise Blood, nobody offers more cliches in such a short space of time - than does Mrs. Hitchcock on the train into Taulkinham, but Enoch Emory supplying the novel with its title


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  • Bibliography