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Flannery O’Connor was a writer of extraordinary power and virtuosity. Her strong supple prose blends humor, pathos, satire, and grotesquerie which leads the reader to the evil at the center of the self’s labyrinth. There, she confronts that evil with originality and power, pulling the reader into consideration of the terrifying dependencies of love in the recesses of the heart.

This study focuses on Flannery O’Connor’s sense of the coincidence of the eternal and cosmic with worldly time and place—“the eternal crossroads”— and how that sense controls and infuses her fiction. From an examination of various influences upon Miss O’Connor’s work—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Mauriac, Nathaniel West, and Hawthorne—the authors consider her novels and stories, as well as several stories never collected. Their textual analysis shows that her structures, images, motifs, and symbols became vehicles for anagogical meaning as she progressed from early promise to artistic fulfillment.

Considering O’Connor’s own comments on her writing, the authors illuminate some frequently misunderstood features of her work, such as her “grotesques” and her stress on death and violence. In so doing they make an important contribution to our understanding of how Flannery O’Connor arrived at “the eternal crossroads.”

Leon V. Driskell teaches English at the University of Louisville, and Joan T. Brittain teaches English at Bellarmine- Ursuline College.

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Flannery O'Connor, Eternal crossroads


Literature in English, North America

The Eternal Crossroads: The Art of Flannery O'Connor
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