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American author (1925-1964)

I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, The Habit of Being

The only way to the truth is through blasphemy.


I don't deserve any credit for turning the other cheek as my tongue is always in it.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, letter to Alice Morris, Jun. 10, 1955

I don't have to run from anything because I don't believe in anything.


I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, Mystery and Manners

Art never responds to the wish to make it democratic; it is not for everybody; it is only for those who are willing to undergo the effort needed to understand it.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, Mystery and Manners

There are all kinds of truth, your truth and somebody else's, but behind all of them, there's only one truth and that is that there's no truth.


The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, letter, Sep. 6, 1955

Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I'm always irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it's very shocking to the system.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, Mystery and Manners

Every person that comes into this earth ... is born sweet and full of love. A little child loves ever'body, friends, and its nature is sweetness -- until something happens. Something happens, friends, I don't need to tell people like you that can think for theirselves. As that little child gets bigger, its sweetness don't show so much, cares and troubles come to perplext it, and all its sweetness is driven inside it. Then it gets miserable and lonesome and sick, friends. It says, 'Where is all my sweetness gone? Where are all the friends that loved me?' and all the time, that little beat-up rose of its sweetness is inside, not a petal dropped.


Fiction is about everything human and we are made out of dust, and if you scorn getting yourself dusty, then you shouldn't try to write fiction. It's not a grand enough job for you.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, Mystery and Manners

All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, letter to Cecil Dawkins, Dec. 9, 1958

Anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, Mystery and Manners

What people don't realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, The Habit of Being

A working knowledge of the devil can be very well had from resisting him.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, letter to "A.", Aug. 2, 1955

Most of us have learned to be dispassionate about evil, to look it in the face and find, as often as not, our own grinning reflections with which we do not argue, but good is another matter. Few have stared at that long enough to accept that its face too is grotesque, that in us the good is something under construction. The modes of evil usually receive worthy expression. The modes of good have to be satisfied with a cliche or a smoothing down that will soften their real look.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, Mystery and Manners

I come from a family where the only emotion respectable to show is irritation. In some this tendency produces hives, in others literature, in me both.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, letter to "A.", Jun. 28, 1956

Your beliefs will be the light by which you see, but they will not be what you see and they will not be a substitute for seeing.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, Mystery and Manners

When there is a tendency to compartmentalize the spiritual and make it resident in a certain type of life only, the spiritual is apt gradually to be lost.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, Mystery and Manners

Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.


Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, attributed, The Book of Poisonous Quotes

It was not right to believe anything you couldn't see or hold in your hands or test with your teeth.


The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet. His problem is to find that location.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, Mystery and Manners

The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, attributed, Room to Write: Daily Invitations to a Writer's Life

Only if we are secure in our beliefs can we see the comical side of the universe.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, Mystery and Manners

Our age not only does not have a very sharp eye for the almost imperceptible intrusions of grace, it no longer has much feeling for the nature of the violences which precede and follow them.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose

If you don't hunt it down and kill it, it will hunt you down and kill you.


You can tell people better how terrible sin is if you know from your own personal experience.


I have found, in short, from reading my own writing, that my subject in fiction is the action of grace in territory largely held by the devil.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, Mystery and Manners

I can, with one eye squinted, take it all as a blessing.

FLANNERY O'CONNOR, letter to Elizabeth and Robert Lowell, Mar. 17, 1953


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