The devil we are possessed by: Flannery O'Connor and Girardian mimesis
Scott, Kevin Matthew
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A persistent problem for literary criticism involving the fiction of Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) has been the relationship between O'Connor's religious worldview and the literary works which she created. Many critics, unsympathetic to O'Connor's devout Catholicism, disregard or downplay O'Connor's religiosity, seeing this biographical element as extraneous or even deleterious to the fiction she produced. While this approach is understandable, it fails to appreciate the entirety of O'Connor's authorial persona. What is needed is a theoretical approach which enables both secular readings of O'Connor's fiction and interpretations inspired by religious commitments. Such an approach can be found in the mimetic theory of René Girard, which provides an anthropological understanding of human desire and violence open to the transcendent. The aim of this thesis paper is to demonstrate the merits of a Girardian approach to the writings of Flannery O'Connor.