An education in letters: the friendship of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon

We sometimes think of our literary heroes as springing fully formed onto the landscape, miraculously endowed with talent and genius and grace. But they, like us, were on a journey and often relied on the help of others in the unfolding of their vocations. It was a surprise to me to discover that much of O’Connor’s thought on the nature of fiction and how to write it was in turn shaped by another, rather more obscure literary figure: Caroline Gordon.

In The Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon, the editor Christine Flanagan gathers an admirable collection that traces the fascinating relationship between two women committed to both their Catholic faith and the craft of fiction. Yet unlike much of O’Connor’s correspondence with others, this one stands out as a kind of student-teacher relationship in which O’Connor, at least in the beginning, is the gifted student and Gordon the seasoned, exacting teacher.

Read my recent article at America Magazine.


2 thoughts on “An education in letters: the friendship of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon

  1. Nice article! It’s refreshing that they were so forward with one another and I liked Caroline Gordon’s advice, but I can see she was intense. I hadn’t heard of her so I read about her life. She was a convert and helped a couple she was friends with convert also. I was sad to read about the divorce. Hope everyone involved is in Heaven now! 😀

    Tudor

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