First published in 1960, The Violent Bear It Away is now a landmark in American literature. It is a dark and absorbing example of the gothic sensibility and bracing satirical voice that are united in Flannery O'Conner's work. In it, the orphaned Francis Marion Tarwater and his cousin, Rayber, defy the prophecy of their dead uncle - that Tarwater will become a prophet and will baptize Rayber's young son, Bishop. A series of struggles ensue, as Tarwater fights an internal battle against his innate faith and the voices calling him to be a prophet, while Rayber tries to draw Tarwater into a more “reasonable” modern world. Both wrestle with the legacy of their dead relatives and lay claim to Bishop's soul.
O'Connor observes all this with an astonishing combination of irony and compassion, humor and pathos. The result is a novel whose range and depth reveal a brilliant and innovative writer acutely alert to where the sacred lives and where it does not.
©1960 Flannery O'Connor (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“There is very little contemporary fiction which touches the level of Flannery O’Connor at her best.” (New York Herald Tribune)
“I am sure her books will live on and on in American literature.” (Elizabeth Bishop, American poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner)
"... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^
O'Connor was ruthless in her vision. The struggle of Tarwater and his uncle Rayber against their joint destinies and the pull of fundamentalism and secularism is fully realized in this short novel. The Violent Bear it Away is biblical, American and absolutely brutal in both its imagery of destruction and language of redemption. I can only think of a handful of writers who seem to grab both my brain, my spine and my gut at the same time. O'Connor can't be over-appreciated; she was an absolute genius of passion and power. So brilliant and terrible was this novel, that I still exceedingly fear and quake.
I am typically bored by literature that is too overtly influenced by the Christian faith/the Bible. Somehow, Flannery O'Connor has escaped such classification for me, and I am riveted by her, absolutely stunned: every time I read her, it feels like the first time I have encountered the idea of God. I liked Wise Blood, but The Violent Bear it Away is in a league of its own. This novel is so dark, and so unflinchingly intelligent and so surprising, and I wished it were 20 hours long instead of six. In fact, I listened to several chapters several times, not because they were difficult to follow, but because I was so amazed by her craft and its unfolding. It will be a difficult novel to follow-up.
The narrator interprets this novel in a wonderful way. The novel itself is superb. The narrator has a way of clarifying who's speaking and hinting at significant images as they unfold. Very satisfying.
This is among the very best audiobooks I've listened to. The performance is haunting and captivating. The text is elevated and infused with meaning by the reader.
The depth and relationship among characters
The many encounters between Tarwater and his uncle created a thread that was a scene in itself. The ambivalent relationship between the two characters-- actually shadows of one another--was both funny and poignant.
I wanted to listen, then digest and reflect before listening further.
Flannery O'Connor once said that the South is "Christ -haunted," and the religious motif is prevalent here. Her characters are both archetypal and personally compelling. This is classic Southern literature at its best--a book worth re-reading and discussing with others.
This book is easily one of the best I have ever listened to. It is Flanery O'Connor, so one must be prepared to read this text like someone who understands literature. Remember that O'Connor is deeply rooted in Catholicism, and scholasticism. Remember that she is first and foremost a committed Christian. Her characters will be grotesque, and there will be tremendous violence and disturbing images, but the book will stick with you forever. It will point to deeper transcendent truths that are timeless and eternal.
Reading Flannery O'Connor will enrich your life, but please understand that you are not listening to surface level romance novels / John Grisham stuff here. This takes hard work and patience, but it is work that will be deeply enriching should you undertake it.
The narration is perfect. The southern accent throughout is very important, and the individual voices of each character are pitch perfect. Simply outstanding.
I loved this book early, then it bogged down. I did not care for the schoolteacher character, and I am probably not going to read any more O'Connor. This one had enough elements of unique, disturbing storytelling to be worth the time though. Picks back up at the end. Not sure what to say about it still- a bit of an exploration of the prophet "type" in modern society. And a story about manipulation. The characters are all trying to make the world like themselves, and especially the "hero". Never read a book like it, and that is really its best quality. The early chapters are much funnier than the book on the whole, and that tempered the subject in a way I liked. I laughed a lot at the old man, and I think one is supposed to.
A great classic with much wisdom regarding passion, religious fervor, prejudice, racism, and other issues. Well read, also.
Readers can always county on Flannery O'Connor delivering a good yarn. Her characters are one of a kind, interesting, eccentric, and compelling; her tales are the same. Mr. Bramhall was well chosen as the narrator. In my mind he became the main character. A book you won't forget like so many others.
I enjoy the works of Flannery O' Connor though I do prefer her shorter stories. The Violent Bear It Away is a bit all over the map at the beginning - past to present to even further in the past, etc - and can make for a confusing listen, but when this novel hits it stride somewhere in the middle the story flares. The narrator does a decent job bringing the story to life. I would suggest using your credit on A Good Man is Hard To Find or Everything That Rises Must Converge first.
"Resist destiny at your peril!"
Francis Tarwater was raised by his preacher great-uncle – destined to be a prophet. He resists his destiny; he does not bury his great-uncle, he goes to live with his uncle, he does not want to baptise his cousin, he does much worse! He is in the thrall of his ancestors, his nature and his destiny. Powerful, sensitive and moving with fantastic Southern States voice.
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