Thursday, January 19, 2006

Flannery O'Connor on Ayn Rand

This post has little to do with the subject of this blog, but an item so delightful demands to be posted. In the letters of Flannery O'Connor, I recently ran across this incisive evaluation:

The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get re fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail. She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky.

Ouch! Ms O'Connor really could express herself!

Flannery O’Connor, 31 May 1960 Letter to Maryat Lee, The Habit of Being, (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1979), 398.


mjmcdonald said...

Check out Whittaker Chambers' review of "Atlas Shrugged" in National Review, December 28, 1957. The line that I can recall offhand is to the effect that 'To a gas chamber, Go!' jumps off every page. He ties her to her Nietschean roots and effectively read her out of the conservative movement. Ill try to dig up my copy of it and post a few excerpts.

Trevor said...

Who is Flannery O'Connor and why should I care what she thinks?

Just curious.

Anonymous Avila said...

Who is Ayn Rand and why should I care that she stinks?


Lawrence Gage said...

Trevor, thanks for asking!

That Flannery O'Connor is widely regarded as one of the greatest short-story writers of the 20th century is of little import in my opinion: the comment speaks for itself.

Now even if you argue that people who evaluate short stories (other fiction writers) are completely out to lunch, it is impossible to avoid observing that anyone who can pen so incisive an evaluation has to know at least a thing or two about writing. And does she!

But don't take my word for it. Read Flannery O'Connor yourself. About her most famous story, A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Evelyn Waugh commented in characteristic English understatement, “If these stories are in fact the work of a young lady, they are indeed remarkable.” Most young women don't generate such brutal things.

Michael, I would love to see those excerpts. Please post when you get a chance!

Avila, don't be mean.


Jon Jackson said...

I can tell you that as an English major I studied O'Connor extensively. Ayn Rand never came up. I did manage to read Atlas Shrugged though. I found it...ponderous. She wrote with all the grace of a concrete bunker.

Donavon said...

Also an English Major, I happen to like Ayn Rand as well as Flannery O'Connor. However, as Ayn Rand is an interesting and sometimes compelling and energetic writer she is just plain wrong; whereas, Flannery O'Connor, one of the most profound writers of the 20th century, is as fluid, organic, and ingenious and her convictions also happen to be right and an integral part of everything she wrote.