Flannery O'Connor Recording Update
by Erin Z. Bass
I know many of you are wondering about the status of the recording of Flannery O’Connor found at UL Lafayette in late January. Last night was my final class with Dr. Mary Ann Wilson, and she played a few minutes of the recording for us to hear. It was a little hard to understand Flannery O’Connor because of her thick, Georgia accent – Dr. Wilson said she gave the word “South” three syllables – but the focus of her 1962 talk at the university was about being a Catholic writer in the South. A lot of Catholics criticized her at the time for not being Catholic enough. Even her mother thought she should be writing nice religious stories, so Flannery O’Connor took this lecture opportunity to defend herself and explain what she thought being a Catholic writer meant.
I do have a copy of the recording in hand and will be working on getting up some clips, if not her lecture in full, as soon as possible. I’m also working on transcribing the lecture, so a copy of that will be available just as soon as I’m able to decipher her accent.
For those of you in the Lafayette area, the recording is available for listening at the Center for Cultural & Eco-Tourism on campus.
John Galletta / February 29, 2012
Hello, am I writing to you, Erin Bass? This may not be someting you want to post, as it is merely a request for a copy of MP3 files of your Flannery O’Connor recordings. If they won’t be available to download somewhere, I would be more than happy to reimburse you for a disc and mailing expenses.
Not knowing your religious background, your interest in Flannery O’Connor probably at least got you somewhat informed about Catholocism. I was a young man in the mid 70s, and joined a Catholic charismatic covenant community… you may be too young to remember, even if you are Catholic. I tried to get a reading group together of other young men, to read and discuss Flannery O’Connor stories. It started out well, but maybe too well, as the leadership got wind of my initiative and squealched it, discerning that “it would not be good.” I.e., they weren’t in control of it. I should have left then, but didn’t. I was still vocal about my literary tendencies over a span of years there, and one of my peers, who is now a priest told me forcefully, “Flannery O’Connor is not going to get you to heaven.” Ironically, he was Irish Catholic, and named O’Connor. He was in the leadership at that point, and supposedly he knew better.
Now he reads Walker Percy with admiration, but hasn’t admitted he was wrong in trying to intimidate me into marching in step with the other sheep. I even suspect Walker Percy, to him, is more name dropped, than understood.
So, in my own way, as the Puccini aria says “Vissi d’arte”, “I lived for art” and I suffered for it. The only thing I would say to a Christian serious about following his conscience is, if you meet people like this, cultural ignoramuses as “religious” as can be, run from them. They have everything figured out, all the answers. They’ll tell you what you should be doing, too, to please God. If you think you’ve found something enlightening in literature, be wary. I was told, “these people can have a powerful effect on your mind.”
Yes, that’s right. Better them than you. Better Flannery O’Connor, Richard Wilbur, Wendell Berry, Walker Percy (properly understood), than the Bible read out loud between the lines.
erinzbass / Author / March 2, 2012
Thanks for your comment, John. The copyright on the recording has to be cleared before we can release the files, but we’re going to send you an email response, so look for it in your inbox.