5 Flannery O’Connor Quotes to Live By

Flannery O’Connor, patron saint of short-story writers, is nearly synonymous with the Southern Gothic tradition. O’Connor was a woman of religious conviction and macabre imagination, and she left a long legacy. As another artist famous for imposing Catholic imagery on a distinctly American landscape, Bruce Springsteen, once said, “the short stories of Flannery O’Connor landed hard on me. You could feel within them the unknowability of God, the intangible mysteries of life that confounded her characters, and which I find by my side every day. They contained the dark Gothicness of my childhood and yet made me feel fortunate to sit at the center of this swirling black puzzle, stars reeling overhead, the earth barely beneath us.”

O’Connor, who died in 1964, would have been 90 today. To honor her, here are five of her best quotes on writing, faith, and the mysteries of life.

flannery-o_connor1-400x376

On art:

“Art never responds to the wish to make it democratic; it is not for everybody; it is only for those who are willing to undergo the effort needed to understand it.”

On faith:

“There is a question whether faith can or is supposed to be emotionally satisfying. I must say that the thought of everyone lolling about in an emotionally satisfying faith is repugnant to me.”

On writing:

“I suppose half of writing is overcoming the revulsion you feel when you sit down to it.”

On writing a novel:

“Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I’m always irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it’s very shocking to the system.”

On modern times:

“At its best our age is an age of searchers and discoverers, and at its worst, an age that has domesticated despair and learned to live with it happily.”