The new documentary Flannery is the cinematic equivalent of a full-court press on Flannery O’Connor‘s behalf, to protect her place in the pantheon of great American writers from the charge that she was a racist. Unfortunately, evidence gleaned from other sources, such as Paul Elie’s recent article for The New Yorker, demonstrate that she certainly was.The writer should read this piece by Amy Alznauer. An excerpt:
I read Elie’s piece with my mouth falling open, more incredulous as I read. Not because I was shocked to discover that O’Connor made blatantly racist remarks throughout her life. That has been known by anyone who has cared to look ever since the 1970s. What surprised me was his minimization or omission of so many of the people who have written on O’Connor and race. He claims that the reluctance to face these facts keeps us from “approaching her with the seriousness a great writer deserves,” implying that no serious engagement has yet happened. Maybe it shouldn’t surprise me that much of the work he misreads or flat-out ignores has largely been done by women and Black Americans.