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decades early with Haze Motes and Wise Blood (). If she were alive today, a 40th Anniversary Edition of the novel, complete with a marketing package. Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood, New York: Harcourt, Brace, Christopher MacGowan PDF. CHAPTER PDF. FULL BOOK PDF. PDF. Wise Blood, Flannery O'Connor's astonishing and haunting first novel, is a classic of twentieth-century literature. Focused on the story of Hazel Motes.

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Title: Wise Blood. Date of first publication: Author: Flannery O'Connor ( ). Date first posted: Dec. 29, Date last updated: Dec. 29, He meets Enoch Emery, a young man with "wise blood," who leads him to a mummified holy child, and whose PDF (tablet), , Wise Blood. The book is often looked down upon. Walter Sullivan finds the characters in Wise Blood "too thin" and "too fauch alike." He also sees.

Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. ISBN he. O'Connor, Flannery. Wise blood. Kreyling, Michael, II. C57W '. Since the rise of the New Criticism in the s, which focused attention of critics and readers upon the text itself - apart from history, biography, and society - there has emerged a wide variety of critical methods which have brought to literary works a rich diversity of perspectives: social, historical, political, psychological, economic, ideological, and philosophical.

As such, the novel represents the very thing Weisenburger claims is opposed by the subversive mode of satire. In creating Wise Blood, O'Connor adapts many of the tropes, symbols, and other means of satirical depiction found in DeadSouls. Unlike DeadSouls, though, Wise Blood is not a novel that pursues a normative morality, but rather strives to achieve a decidely more culturally subversive or perhaps transformative goal, one that is directly related to its author's outspoken and somewhat idiosyncratic views on religious salvation.

O'Connor often stated that she felt herself to be playing the socially edifying role of "the Christian novelist.. O'Connor's choice of the word "meaningless" to describe Christianity's place in postwar America both sarcastically alludes to the aggressively agnostic philosophy espoused by Camus's anti-hero Meursault, 5 and also conveys the se- verity of O'Connor's diagnosis of the state of the collective American soul. Her frustration with readers who interpreted Wise Blood existentially or otherwise non-religiously comes through in her preliminary comments in the re- printed edition of the novel: That belief in Christ is to some a matter of life and death has been a stumbling block for readers who would prefer to think it a matter of no great consequence.

For them Hazel Motes' integrity lies in his trying with such vigor to get rid of the ragged figure who moves from tree to tree in the back of his mind.

For the author, Hazel's integrity lies in his not being able to.

Wise Blood

Accordingly, she transposes both the essential moral message and the satirical literary medium of Dead Souls into a more radical form, not only to make them relevant to post-World War II America but also to keep them consistent with her own Catholic brand of Christianity. To substantiate this contention, this article examines the primary and second- ary characters of the two novels and the satirical techniques employed by both authors.

Since the extant critical assessment of O'Connor and Gogol covers a broad range of positions with consensus nowhere in sight , such a discussion must begin with a statement of the critical assumptions which underlay the ma- terial of this study-in essence, a statement of partisanship with certain wings of the critical opinion which has been brought to bear upon these works and these authors.

The ma- jority of Marxist critics both Soviet and non-Soviet have somewhat awkwardly adapted Gogol to their socio-political ideology, drawing on the work ofVissarion Belinsky, who was perhaps the most influential liberal Russian critic of the first half of the nineteenth century and a contemporary of Gogol.

In the late s and early s, Belinsky claimed that Gogol was a friend of the oppressed and that his works criticized the Tsarist government and its institutions such as serf- dom through a depiction, at once realistic and satirical, of the suffering that such government causes.

New Essays on Wise Blood (The American Novel)

It should be pointed out that Gogol's unsurprising 6 expo- sure as a conservative upon the publication of Selected Passagesdismayed Belinsky so greatly that he wrote to the author in , claiming that Gogol had become an "advocate of the knout, the apostle of ignorance, the champion of benight- edness" qtd. An examination of Gogol's letters and notebooks clearly shows that he never believed his task to be socio-economic reform of the kind Belinsky and his Marxist descendants ascribe to him.

Moral reform, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter, which we will take up shortly. The school of criticism associated with Vladimir Nabokov, who claims that "if you are interested in 'ideas' and 'facts' and 'messages,' keep awayfrom Gogol," is often no more successful in compartmentalizing him than Belinsky and his successors.

Nabokov identifies Gogol as a creator of literature that is "not con- cerned with pitying the underdog or cursing the upperdog. It appeals to that secret depth of the human soul where the shadows of other worlds pass like the shadows of nameless and soundless ships" Nabokov The critical attitude that Gogol is a pure fantasist removed from any sense of social conscience, how- ever, denies his power as a satirist, even if such a conception correctly displaces this power from a strictly socio-economic setting to a more broadly cultural and even nationalistic one.

Freudians, formalists, structuralists, and postmodernists have all thrown their critical hats into Gogol's ring as well, with only marginal degrees of success in claiming the author for their ism. Within the last two de- cades,James B. Woodward, Susanne Fusso, and Donald Fanger among others have successfully adopted critical approaches that take the many facets and dis- tinctly different stages of writing into account without forcing him so definitively into a single mode.

Such methods are not only eminently reasonable putting the textual troikabefore the theoretical brichka, rather than the reverse , but also indispensable to accurate analysis of Gogol's work.

The difficulty of categorizing O'Connor's work has continued beyond her lifetime as well, having been a point of contention almost from the inception of her career. Mystery and Mannersis filled with essays in which she tries to shake off the labels or at least the negative and limiting connotations that are associated with them of "regional" writer or writer of the "grotesque.

I think that every writer, when he speaks of his own approach to fiction, hopes to show that, in some crucial and deep sense, he is a realist; and for some of us, for whom the ordinary aspects of daily life prove to be of no great fictional interest, this is very difficult. I have found that if one's young hero can't be identified with the average American boy, or even with the average American delinquent, then his perpetrator will have a good deal of explaining to do.

Ifyou are a Southern writer that label, and all the misconceptions that go with it, is pasted on you at once, and you are left to get it off as best you can" Like Gogol, O'Connor clearlybelieved herwork to be misrepresented by her critical contemporaries, a claim made still more significant by her asser- tions about her audience's perception of Christianity as "meaningless.

The similarity between O'Connor's comments in "Some Aspects of the Gro- tesque in Southern Fiction" and a quotation from the narrator of DeadSout-who may, with some hesitation, be identified as Gogol himself-provides a suitable point of entry into direct comparison of the two works.

In chapter 7, Gogol's narrator engages in one of the notable overt narrative "digressions" that mark the text as meta-fictional, or asAndrei Sinyavskywrites, "a bookwritten about how it was written" qtd. The narrator states: Happy is the reader, who, after passing tiresome, repulsive characters-charac- ters who amaze by their melancholy activity-approaches a character who represents the lofty dignity of a man, who out of thevastwhirlpool offorms, which are whirling in an every-day round, has selected only a few exceptions, who has not once betrayed the lofty harmony of his lyre, who has not once descended from his height to his poor, paltry fellow-creatures, and, without touching the earth, has cast himself wholly into the grandiose forms which are so far removed from it!

But not such is the lot, and very different is the fate, of the writer who pre- sumes to call forth into evidence all that is constantly before our eyes, and which our eyes do not see-all the terrible, agitating mire of petty details which enmesh our lives; all those depths of cold, disturbing, commonplace characters with which our earthlyway Gogol's hyper-realistic grotesques use satirical exaggeration to show the ways in which Russian culture has distorted its natural in Gogol's mind incli- nations toward virtue, whereas the deformations in O'Connor's characters are more often symbolic physical manifestations of spiritual infirmities.

The reversal of their rhetorical positions in this regard mirrors the differences in their intent. O'Connor's defense of non-idealized characters stems from a desire to supersede realism and to use satire for the sake of allegory in reaching an audience that no longer understands direct representation of her soteriological themes. The complaint made by Gogol's narrator is intended to deflect the 'judgment of his contemporaries, the hypercritically unfeelingjudg- ment, which designates as mean and paltry the creations which they caress Gogol wants to be able to move beyond sentimentality and present a wider range of characters, including those that are unlikable, in order to fulfill his goal of morally didactic satire that reaches "all levels and.

Each wants to create a work of fiction that incorporates satirical description of a grotesque cast of characters in order to point out the undesirable state of affairs that results from a loss of morality.

For Gogol, this loss was still pending but becoming more likely , whereas O'Connor sees it as something of afaitaccompli. The basic stories of both Dead Souls and Wise Blood can be stripped back to reveal a framework that is remarkably consistent, despite the year and 5,mile distance between them.

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Each book deals with the introduction of an outsider Pavel Chichikov in Dead Souls, Hazel Motes in Wise Blood into a geo- graphically and philosophically provincial community.

Seemingly all of the supporting characters of both novels have some form of shortcoming, be it spiri- tual, mental, physical, emotional, or a combination of these. Furthermore, both protagonists are closely identified with a means of conveyance that is at some point directly associated with the potential for salvation: Chichikov with the brichka a carriage pulled by a troika, or three horses in which he rides into the town of N.

This vehicular linkage brings the notion of the road into play in both works, a trope that leads to an association of both Chichikov and Hazel with St. Paul of Tarsus, his blinding and, more importantly, his subsequent conversion while enroute to Damascus. Finally, the protagonist of each novel is clearly set apart from the setting into which they travel. While neither Chichikov nor Motes would be mistaken for a "grandiose form" or the "average American boy," they both are given a history and other humanizing characteristics that are denied to a world in which other human characters are described in terms of animals or inanimate objects and vice versa.

There is something in the protagonists which separates them from the world of poshlost' an untranslatable Russian word that Nabokov roughly attempts to describe as a banality or falsity unrecognized by its possessor they are placed into and makes them potential candidates for redemption. I draw this sketch of the structure of the two novels with simple and thick lines, but its applicability reinforces the direct influence of Dead Souls on O'Connor's wvriting and contradicts criticism that is unwilling to remove the basic form of both authors' stories not the particular cultural details from temporal and geo- graphical limitations.

O'Connor colors in the lines of the model provided by Dead Souls with the details from the American South in the middle of the twentieth century, a world she and most of her prospective readers knew better than they knew nineteenth-century provincial Russia. Nev- ertheless, the basic story and thejuvenalian brand of moral satire establish awise bloodline that dates back several centuries.

Gogol called his work a poemna, a Russian word that can denote either the ba- sic generic category of "poem" or something more grand, roughly akin to "epic poem. The author leads his life through a chain of adventures, and he is changed, in order that the author may at the same time present For a devout believer this topic is of paramount impor- tance, especially if the hero is, as Gogol claims for Ariosto and by association for himself , intended to be a "living lesson Chichikov arrives in the provincial town of N.

His arrival produced no commotion what- soever, and was accompanied by nothing in particular" 2.

New Essays on Wise Blood (The American Novel) - PDF Free Download

This description begins the process of identification of Chichikov with nullities of various kinds. O'Connor adopts this technique in her characterization of Hazel, who founds the Church Without Christ by claiming "to preach there was no Fall because there was nothing to fall from and no Redemption because there was no Fall and no Judgment because there wasn't the first two.

Nothing matters but thatJesus was a liar" Wise Blood Even after Hazel's revelation brought on by the annihi- lation of his car, the symbol of his faith in faithlessness he describes his ritual self-blinding in terms of negation, albeit one that that seeks a positive end: This repeated lack of something in Chichikov-identified as the principle of ne to roughly, "not that" 7 in Gogolian criticism-has been interpreted as evi- dence of his demonic nature, 8 as a part of his chameleon-like ability to adapt to his surroundings presumably, since he has no fixed essence in himself, he takes on that of the immediate world around him , or as an indicator of the death of his own soul.

None of these interpretations, though, allows for Chichikov's true redemption, which is hinted at in the ending of the novel and is planned for in some of Gogol's stated conceptions of the uncompleted second and third vol- umes. Likewise, despite the fact that Hazel spends the entire book denying and negating the redemptive power of Christ, he too finds eventual salvation in the overthrow of his heretical to O'Connor beliefs.

We can see the importance of undoing nothingness in both Chichikov and Hazel by examining the things the other characters use to replace the moral and religious beliefs that Gogol and O'Connor think, in their respective manners, should fill that void. The five landowners which Gogol presents to the reader in the second through sixth chapters of DeadSouls are each allegorical representatives of a kind of zador "fervor" , some of which Gogol outlines in the second chapter: Every man has his particular fervor: Dead Souls, qtd.

Gippius claims that one of the main problems Gogol notes in these "fer- vors" is that they do not even amount to real "passions" and make the characters who live according only to these fervors equivalent to mere "existers" rather than fully living human beings The Russian word strast' passion conveys both secular and ecclesiastical meanings as passiondoes in English , and the ab- sence of real passion in this "assemblage of freaks" Gippius points out the lack of impact that the Passion of Christ, that is can have on people who live life according to earthly and banal pursuits.

Manilov idleness , Korobochka ex- cessive orderliness , Nozdryov gambling, deceitfulness, complete lack of thrift , Sobakevich gluttony, careless consumption , Plyushkin miserliness, material- ism all embody at least one of these sorts of fervors or, in the case of Manilov, are "lacking any 'fervor' whatsoever" Gippius These traits are often roughly equivalent to the so-called seven deadly sins, but this is largely coincidental or, at least, of little consequence in terms of the author's project.

Their importance lies not in their use for theological allegory such as in TheFaerieQueene. Rather, they accentuate the fact that people who can turn a poshlost'filled thing like "a visiting-card, whether written on the deuce of clubs or the ace of diamonds" into a "very sacred thing" are wholly ignorant of the religiously based morality that Gogol feels should guide their actions. Similarly, the people of Taulkinham represent a collection of non-passions every bit as varied as the population of the town of N.

O'Connor makes her par- ticular Catholic strain of religious didacticism more explicit by showing all of the grotesque characters of Taulkinham engaged in what she considers to be false religious practices or beliefs. From Onniejay Holy a. Hoover Shoats , who preaches for financial gain, to Asa Hawks, whose belief was not strong enough to blind himself forJesus's sake even though he still pretends that he did do so , O'Connor's cast of characters represents a pantheon of practitioners of what Kierkegaard called "bad faith.

Flood wants to care for and later marry Hazel out of desire for his government check and her own convoluted sense of charity, yet she does not understand Hazel's redemption-seeking askesis. O'Connor importantly casts Mrs. Flood's lack of understanding as non-Catho- lic by having her make disparaging remarks about the possibility of Hazel's being "a agent of the pope" or having "some connection with something funny" Liv- ing up to its name, all of Taulkinham is "talking" about religion, but no one-including Hazel until his Paul-like conversion-is engaging in true belief.

The biichka by which Chichikov travels and the "rat-colored" car that Hazel uses as home, pulpit, and instrument of vengeance both serve to keep the pro- tagonists on the road, literally and figuratively.

Moreover, both are symbolically associated with forms of "bad" or misplaced faith.

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Hazel's Essex functions on a much more particularized level-being the symbol of Hazel's personal bad faith-than Chichikov's carriage, which Gogol eventually uses as part of a meta- phorical indictment of the haste with which he believes all Russia seeks to leave behind its spiritual past in pursuit of other diversions. For him, the Essex is not only a symbol of Haze's belief standing in forJesus as the ob- ject of his unquestioning faith but also the means of asserting a sense of control over the world: While he is in the driver's seat he can control his fate, and start fresh when- ever he pleases" However, as Hazel is trying to leave Taulkinham to "start fresh," his car is destroyed by a highway patrolman in an oddly benevolent epi- sode.

This event triggers Hazel's submission to penitence in the forms of his blinding and other starkly ascetic acts, and also begins his redemption. Like Paul, he gains the ability to see in a religious sense his blinded eyes "hold more" af- ter having his bad faith destroyed on the road. The fact that destruction of the car is necessary for Hazel's redemption also points out the subversive nature of O'Connor's satire, since the car symbolizes not only Hazel's faithlessness but if Ragen and other cultural theorists are to be believed also represents a growing norm of American life in the early s.

The hints of Chichikov's possible redemption also occur on the road and involve the vehicle with which he is associated. While fleeing from his meeting with Nozdryov perhaps the most unlikeable of all the landowners , his bricchka collides with an elegant larger carriage and he finds himself in direct contact with the beautiful young daughter of the local governor.

She is described as follows: The lovely oval of her face was rounded like a fresh egg; and like this also, when, fresh and newly laid, it is held against the light Chichikov's reaction "our hero gazed at her for several minutes without paying the slightest heed to the confusion which had arisen between the horses and the coachmen" [] resembles a sort of rapture and his recognition of the true beauty of the young woman stands in clear con- trast to the artificial and tacky attempts at beauty made by the older women of the town.

For Zeldin, citing Gogol's love for painted ikons, this recognition has a parallel in Gogol's own beliefs about the interrelation between art and religion: Another RoadsideEpiphany 63 "Truth and beauty are not relative terms Gogol's religion, unlike that of say, Tolstoy, remained always firmly rooted in the beliefs and practices of his particular ritualistic church, with its emphasis on the beautiful nature of the divine" The genuine beauty and incorruptibility of the young girl she ignores his su- perficial attempts at party conversation when they meet again at the governor's ball is in contrast with the grotesque ugliness and false promise of redemption presented to Hazel by Sabbath Hawks in Wise Blood.

The fact that Chichikov can be significantly moved by the recognition of true beauty unlike the others in the town indicates that he has the ability to choose the correct road' 0 -the one that leads to God, as Gogol calls it in the penultimate chapter: What crooked, obscure, narrow, impassable roads, which lead one far out of one's way, has not humanity selected, in its endeavor to attain to eternal truth; while directly before it, the straight road, the true road, leading to the magnificent temple, to the chambers appointed by the King, lay directly before it!

It is broader and more luxurious than all the other roads; it is illumined by the sun, and lighted all night by long fires; but people have flowed past it in profound darkness. This metaphoric use of the word "road" in the midst of a passage in which Chichikov is riding down the lit- eral road in his brichkamakes the connection between the two almost inescapable. Like St. Paul whose first name Chichikov shares and like Hazel, he has had the "scales lifted from his eyes" by aviolent interruption of hisjourney along the road.

Furthermore, in the final paragraph of the first volume Gogol equates the car- riage or more precisely, the team of three horses-the troika-that pulls his carriage in which Chichikov sits with all Russia "is it not thus, like the bold troika which cannot be overtaken, that thou art dashing along, Russia? The fact that the "fervors" are described as diversionary paths suggests that Dead Souls is intended as a normative satire, since diversion from something implies that the thing from which one has been diverted is the standard.

At the end of the book, it is not only Chichikovwho needs to recognize again his ability to see the beauty of the "straight road, the true road," but all of Russia. Lastly, both authors take great pains to separate their protagonists from the remainder of the world around them. In both cases, only the hero is given a de- tailed history, thereby making him the only character that transcends typology.

Accordingly, the rest of the characters seem to be dehumanized, especiallywhen the authors describe them in metaphorical language that reinforces this status. Weisenburger, building on William R. As for the rest, in them the vehicle operates on the tenor in such a way as to give it an upwards boost" He cites a number of examples of both kinds of metaphorical confusion of reality, most notably that of Hazel's grandfather an itinerant preacher, who is compared twice with a wasp , Asa Hawks's face de- scribed as being like a "grinning mandrill" and the zoo attendant who has a 'jutting shale-textured face" Wise Blood The "rat-colored" car, Enoch's lit- eral transformation into a gorilla, and the description of Enoch's washstand as "st[anding] on bird legs six inches high" 67 are only some of the many other examples of the sort of ontologically mixed metaphors used in the novel.

O'Connor's work is full of "grotesque exaggeration and nightmarish colorings" Brinkmeyer that serve to reduce everything around Hazel to a liminal existence between humanity and inhumanity, an existence which lies between life and death in spiritual terms since animals are not believed to possess souls.

As long as Hazel denies the power of Christ, he too exists in this state. I mean I can get him! In short, Wise Blood intimates that although this new jesus is useful as an enigmatic sign, it becomes altogether unholy when it attains the status of a commodity or an idol, as when it is treated this way by Enoch and, later, by Sabbath Hawks.

But once it has been made, through the mechanism of idolatry or of commodification, to stand in for that mystery, it demeans and obviates spiritual experience.


The two men stare down as if at a jewelry-counter display, their faces reflected in the glass, and indeed Enoch will shortly identify the new jesus as not only an icon to be venerated but also, and more urgently, an item he must acquire. To interpret the mummified new jesus as a resonant symbol of religious mystery may thus seem misleading, given its ready commodification by a museum, by Enoch, and later by Sabbath Hawks.

The new jesus fails to satisfy, however; its only real effect on Enoch being to make him sneeze. It should not surprise us that the new jesus fails to operate in the holy or ritual way that Enoch confusedly expects, nor that Enoch would attempt to strip the mummy of whatever mystery it holds by means of stealing and possessing it.

Saturated as he is with consumer culture, he brings the same expectations to a sacred relic that consumers regularly bring to the commodities that promise to make them smarter, more attractive, and more valuable in the eyes of themselves and others. No wonder Enoch cannot recognize the worth of a redeemer that would transcend a commodity exchange. Sabbath, too, cannot conceive of a new jesus beyond the limitations of commercial exchange.

This Jesus will not be found in a museum, of course. The Museum occupies the space and function once reserved for the Temple as the place of sacrifice. To the faithful in the Temple—the pilgrims who would travel across the earth from temple to temple, from sanctuary to sanctuary—correspond today the tourists who restlessly travel in a world that has been abstracted into a Museum Wherever they go, they find pushed to the extreme the same impossibility of dwelling that they knew in their houses and their cities, the same inability to use that they experienced in supermarkets, in malls, and on television shows.

For this reason, insofar as it represents the cult and central altar of the capitalist religion, tourism is the primary industry in the world. He destroys it without a second thought. Blasphemy per se, however, proves finally insufficient in this novel as a means of profanation. To understand why this is the case, we need briefly to consider what blasphemy is, and what it is not.

From Blasphemy to Sacrilege So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Hazel can be neither a conventional believer nor the confident disbeliever that he longs to be. Hazel, too, is unable to inhabit lukewarm territory in his struggle to escape his spiritual compulsions.

For as its suffix suggests, blasphemy is a discursive crime—a matter of rhetoric, form, and expression—while sacrilege denotes physical desecration. This unelaborated compulsion to pay has struck some readers as a vulgar and spiritually bankrupt form of economic transaction. Such a pessimistic reading is attractive in its contrarianism, its refusal to place too much faith in a strictly anagogical interpretation.

In all its denominations, Christianity insists that human beings cannot, on their own, ever hope to pay down their debts to the Creator. Those who would pay Onnie Jay Holy a dollar for a made-to-order faith commit a comparable error, believing that salvation can be bought on the cheap. The church he ultimately finds for himself, of course, will cost him a great deal—not of money, which he irreverently tosses away, but of sight and body.

His is an economy of barbed wire and broken glass, an economy that makes little sense to the money-minded Mrs. Along the lines of Mrs. She sees in those eyes something clearly akin to what Mrs. For as Mrs.

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How would he know if time was going backwards or forwards or if he was going with it? He has emigrated, in a word, from chronos to kairos, which for Mrs. She felt as if she were blocked at the entrance to something In this way the author transforms her own piety into something more closely resembling rank heresy in her s American context. Kevin Attell. Jeff Fort. New York: Zone Books, Anselm, Saint.

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Eduardo Mendieta. New York: Routledge, Bloch, Ernst. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, Bloom, Harold. New York: Simon and Schuster, Brinkmeyer, Robert H. Cobb, Michael L. Connolly, William E. Capitalism and Christianity, American Style.

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