Download American Gargoyles: Flannery O'Connor and the Medieval by Anthony Di Renzo PDF

By Anthony Di Renzo

Focusing right here at the comedian genius of Flannery O’Connor’s fiction, Anthony Di Renzo unearths a size of the author’s paintings that has been neglected by way of either her supporters and her detractors, such a lot of whom have heretofore focused solely on her use of theology and parable.Noting an especial kinship among her characters and the grotesqueries that embellish the margins of illuminated manuscripts and the facades of eu cathedrals, he argues that O’Connor’s Gothicism brings her stories nearer in spirit to the English secret cycles and the leering gargoyles of medieval structure than to the Gothic fiction of Poe and Hawthorne to which critics have so usually associated her work.Relying partially on Mikhail Bakhtin’s research of Rabelais, Di Renzo examines the several different types of the gruesome in O’Connor’s fiction and the parallels in medieval artwork, literature, and folklore. He starts by means of demonstrating that the determine of Christ is the precise at the back of her satire—an perfect, although, that has to be degraded in addition to exalted whether it is ever to be a residing presence within the actual global. Di Renzo is going directly to speak about O’Connor’s strange therapy of the human physique and its dating to medieval fabliaux. He depicts the interaction among the saintly and the demonic in her paintings, illustrating how for her stable is simply as gruesome as evil since it remains to be "something less than construction."

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Additional info for American Gargoyles: Flannery O'Connor and the Medieval Grotesque

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Rather, it is a purposeful accomplishment, deeply rooted in medieval art and satire. If we carefully trace the surface strangeness of her fiction, we will be surprised by its odd richness and beautynot to mention its peculiar form of health. More conventional critics have argued that O'Connor's deformed and diseased characters indicate a "sick" imagination. This accusation is probably the biggest stumbling block facing beginning readers of O'Connor. Still, as depth psychologist James Hillman explains in The Myth of Analysis, grotesque figures can also be a sign of vitality and wisdom: "The damaged and queer figures who emerge from our complexes," he says, "do not indicate that something has gone wrong and that the ego should set it straight.

Unshaven and indifferent, they crack coarse jokes and scratch their chins. The scene is quite jollylike a country fair. But the gallows and the crows, the ox skull in the corner, remind us that we are at Golgotha. Jesus, however, is nowhere to be found. Then we see him: a tiny figure, almost insignificant, staggering under the weight of his cross. He is barely discernible in this crowd of fools and knaves, and we wonder why Bruegel, a Christian artist, has painted Jesus from this perspective. It is even more shocking than his depiction of the fall of Icarus.

That is the conventional function of a ship of foolsnot just the particular satirical genre derived from Sebastian Brandt, the stultifera navis, but the actual floating madhouses that inspired it. As Michel Foucault explains in Madness and Civilization, the Narrenschiffs of the late Middle Ages were created actually for the benefit of the sanespecifically, to define and to insure the marginality of the insane: The madman's voyage is at once a rigorous division and an absolute Passage. In one sense, it simply develops, across a half-real, half-imaginary geography, the madman's liminal position on the horizon of medieval concerna position symbolized and made real at the same time by the madman's privilege of [having once been] confined within the city gates: his exclusion must enclose him; if he cannot and must not have another prison than the threshold itself, he is kept at the point of passage.

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