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)
A bleak book with sustained religious imagery, that's what you're in for. O'Connor is such a powerful writer, though, that you occasionally get lost in the poetic beauty of her phrasing and forget how depressing the story is. But the story always jerks you back to reality.
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.
Perhaps it is only with the benefit of hindsight that one might begin to comprehend the horror of this novel, published in 1960, with the story taking place in the American South of 1952. Although I am not a scholar of O'Connor, the research I have done indicates that she was a devout Catholic and intended the novel to be a tribute to the power of religious passion in the face of a vapid secularism. But it is a very violent and horrific passion she writes of, full of the destructive forces of fire and water. When I read of the induction of the young Tarwater into the fanatical faith of his "crazy" great-uncle, a faith which eventually leads the 14-year-old to a place where he is capable of the murder of an innocent, I can't help but think of the scores of young Muslims currently being indoctrinated into a similarly twisted version of their faith. The same is true of religious zealots of any tradition who come to believe they are justified in committing the most barbaric atrocities in the service of their faith.
O'Connor posits a stark dichotomy between the fire of religious passion and the emptiness of a secular life. It is a false dichotomy, in my opinion--religious passion can be perverted, and meaning and purpose can be found in a secular life. I firmly stand with the Buddha on this one: the Middle Way is the path of wisdom.
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.
Flannery's words can pierce your soul. Loneliness, hopelessness, ignorance, religious fanaticism, and, yes, I dare say mental illness converge in this classic. So why did I like it? First, the fact that it was written in the mid 50s and by a woman is incredible. The fact that she captures otherness and aloneness as no other author I've ever read. It is shocking, rich in prose, and uncovers fears that are as terrifying as any Stephen King novel. Flannery shocks and delivers a solid punch.
An accomplished retiree ready for the entertainment I missed during all my years of hard work. Period mysteries or witty anything are a joy.
Flannery Conner uncovers some of the ugly culture as a consequence of the unrooted, superstitious people of the American post-war era. The vulnerable bear the brunt of each man 's interpretation what he believes is being freed from perceived evils.
This is an extraordinary period and place work with vivid characters and descriptive narrative. The reading is authentic and a positive contribution to the experience of the book. High praise.
the realism in the telling of the story
the almost expected outcome of this freight train coming at full throttle
excellent characterizations - outstanding performance
The Violent Bear It Away
A good reading adds great value to the story - it is truly a performance
The story telling was quite good but the story itself was more complicated or more symbolic than my attention span allowed me to follow while listening.
This was the first book by Flannery O'Connor that I have listened to. I have not read any of Flannery O'Connor's work.
None of the characters qualified as "favorites." The description and performance of each made them equally problematic to like.
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