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Flannery O'Connor and the Perils of Governing by Tenderness - Politics, Literature, & Film (Hardback)
  • Flannery O'Connor and the Perils of Governing by Tenderness - Politics, Literature, & Film (Hardback)
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Flannery O'Connor and the Perils of Governing by Tenderness - Politics, Literature, & Film (Hardback)

(author)
£60.00
Hardback 200 Pages / Published: 03/01/2019
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Flannery O'Connor's fiction continues to haunt American readers, in part because of its uncanny ability to remind us who we are and what we need. Foss's book reveals the extent to which O'Connor was a serious reader of the history of political philosophy. She understood the ideas upon which the American regime rests, and she evaluated those ideas from the standpoint of both faith and reason. Foss's book explains why O'Connor feared that the modern habit to govern by tenderness would lead to terror. After a thorough account of her familiarity with the history of political philosophy, Foss shows how the works of Plato, Aristotle, Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Machiavelli, Locke, Rousseau, and Nietzsche inform O'Connor's stories. This does not mean that O'Connor was writing about politics in the narrow sense. Her vision was deeply theological, and she carefully avoided topical stories that promote social agendas. Her concern was with the health of the American regime more broadly, insofar as the manners of a regime affect citizens' attitudes toward religion. O'Connor does not present a political theory of her own, but as Foss argues, she was a political philosopher in the original sense of the word. Her stories give clear accounts of her political wisdom. Foss further shows the continued relevance of her wisdom in age dominated by abstract modern theories, such as that of John Rawls.

Publisher: Lexington Books
ISBN: 9781498532594
Number of pages: 200
Weight: 445 g
Dimensions: 231 x 160 x 20 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Readers may be wary of a book that baptizes a literary saint into a political fount; however, Foss does not align Flannery O'Connor with any ideological camp or reduce her fiction to morals on political life. Rather, he mines her stories for obvious gems that we too often overlook: references to Machiavelli and Heidegger, for instance, that bring O'Connor into ongoing conversations about the role of human beings within their polity. In Foss' reading, O'Connor is still a hillbilly Thomist, but her religious philosophy has much to say about our politics. -- Jessica Wilson, John Brown University
Foss's study is a welcome breath of fresh air and an important addition to O'Connor studies, and none too soon. In our present age of competing political ideologies, this book serves a dual aim for two kinds of readers: to introduce those familiar with O'Connor to a deeper appreciation of the political significance of her work; and to introduce those more interested in political philosophy to the corrective that O'Connor's emphasis on incarnational truth demands. Foss's excellent study addresses an obvious lacuna in O'Connor scholarship (how could we have missed it?), and at the same time reminds us that, as theories go, they only finally matter if they translate to the world of flesh and blood. As Foss rightly suggests in his assessment of O'Connor, to separate concerns of faith from the concerns of the polis does an injustice to both. -- Michael Bruner, author of A Subversive Gospel: Flannery O'Connor and the Reimagining of Beauty, Goodness, and Truth
By revisiting Flannery O'Connor's eclectic bookshelves and acknowledging her expansive intellect, Dr. Foss convincingly argues that O'Connor's stories project a significant understanding of the history of political philosophy, from Plato to Heidegger. O'Connor's well-documented quest to understand her faith through fiction brings her in stories into dialogue with classical, medieval, and modern schools of political thought. A valuable read. -- Christine Flanagan, author of The Letters of Flannery O'Connor and Caroline Gordon

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