First published in 1955, The Violent Bear It Away is now a landmark in American literature. It is a dark and absorbing example of the Gothic sensibility and bracing satirical voice that are united in Flannery O’Connor’s work.
The orphaned Francis Marion Tarwater and his cousin, Rayber, struggle to defy the prophecy of their dead uncle — that Tarwater will become a prophet and will baptize Rayber’s young son, Bishop. As Tarwater fights an internal battle against his innate faith and the voices calling him to be a prophet, Rayber tries to draw Tarwater into a more “reasonable” modern world. Both wrestle with the legacy of their dead relatives and lay claim to Bishop’s soul.
O’Connor observes all this with an astonishing combination of irony and compassion, humor and pathos. The result is a novel whose range and depth reveal a brilliant and innovative writer acutely alert to where the sacred lives and where it does not.