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A comparative study of form and theology in the works of Flannery O'Connor and Simone Weil

Maxwell, Catherine Anne (1998) A comparative study of form and theology in the works of Flannery O'Connor and Simone Weil. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

In this comparative study of the form and theology of Flannery O'Connor and Simone Weil I interrogate how Weil's philosophical writings and her theology illuminate O'Connor's use of both narrative and non-fictional forms, and her Catholicism. The Introduction analyses how Weil's concept of superposed reading provides a new method of approaching both O'Connor, her writings, and O'Connor studies, and focuses on how such apparently different women interconnect. Chapter One explores how both Weil and O'Connor attempt to write their theologies on the souls of their readers yet are each subject to constraints imposed by form. Weil's concept of locating equilibrium between incommensurates is discussed, and her distinctively philosophical approach to fictions and fictionality is used to investigate O'Connor's notion of prophetic fictions and the writer's role. Chapter Two assesses how both writers revivify Christian paradoxes. Weil's monstrous concept of affiiction, and O'Connor's use of the grotesque genre to jolt secular man into an awareness of the sacred are scrutinised. Chapter Three studies how both writers consider an encounter between God and man is possible through the action of grace. My Conclusion interrogates how Weil's work can deepen our understanding of O'Connor's writings, and examines how successful O'Connor is at realising a truly Christian literature. I conclude that despite being a writer of powerful fictions, O'Connor can not be totally successful in her mission as writer-prophet because ultimately fiction escapes orthodoxy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of English (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.546056
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 02 May 2012 10:32
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:17
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2320

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