Desire, Violence, and Divinity in Modern Southern Fiction: by Gary M. Ciuba

By Gary M. Ciuba

During this groundbreaking learn, Gary M. Ciuba examines how 4 of the South's such a lot probing writers of twentieth-century fiction--Katherine Anne Porter, Flannery O'Connor, Cormac McCarthy, and Walker Percy--expose the roots of violence in southern tradition. Ciuba attracts at the paradigm of mimetic violence constructed via cultural and literary critic Ren?© Girard, who keeps that particular human nature is formed by way of the will to mimic a version. Mimetic wish could lead on in flip to contention, cruelty, and eventually community-sanctioned--and occasionally ritually sanctified--victimization of these deemed outcasts. Ciuba deals an impressively extensive highbrow dialogue that provides common cultural intending to the southern adventure of hope, violence, and divinity with which those 4 authors wrestled and out of which they wrote. In a finished research of Porter's semiautobiographical Miranda tales, Ciuba specializes in the prescribed function of ladies that Miranda imitates and finally escapes. O'Connor's The Violent endure It Away unearths 3 characters whose scandalous animosity as a result of spiritual competition ends up in the insufferable stumbling block of violence. McCarthy's protagonist in baby of God, Lester Ballard, seems because the fruits of a protracted culture of the sacred violence of southern faith, twisted into his personal bloody religion. And Percy's The Thanatos Syndrome brings Ciuba's dialogue again to the sufferer, in Tom Moore's renunciation of a society within which scapegoating threatens to develop into the root of a brand new social regime. From nostalgia for the outdated order to visions of a utopian the following day, those authors have imagined the interrelationship of hope, antagonism, and faith all through southern background. Ciuba's insights provide new methods of analyzing Porter, O'Connor, McCarthy, and Percy in addition to their contemporaries who inhabited an analogous tradition of violence--violence wanted, dreaded, denied, and deified.

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Extra resources for Desire, Violence, and Divinity in Modern Southern Fiction: Katherine Anne Porter, Flannery O'connor, Cormac Mccarthy, Walker Percy (Southern Literary Studies)

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More than a century earlier, in Notes on the State of Virginia Jefferson outlined such a mimetic theory of violence when he noticed how the young were influenced by viewing cruelty toward slaves: Our children see this [mistreatment], and learn to imitate it; for man is an imitative animal. This quality is the germ of all education in him. From his cradle to his grave he is learning to do what he sees others do. . The parent storms, the child looks on, catches the lineaments of wrath, puts on the same airs in the circle of smaller slaves, gives a loose to his worst of passions, and thus nursed, educated, and daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but be stamped by it with odious peculiarities.

Africans and African Americans provided the South with all the candidates it needed for surrogate victimage. Slaves might live so closely to the white world that they were not just the field hands and domestic servants but confidantes, nursemaids, consorts, or half-siblings in the master’s family. Yet they also represented a mon- The Culture of Violence and the Violence of Culture 27 strous alterity in the lives of their white captors and owners, who engaged in a psychological form of scapegoating to justify the socioeconomic one.

Although most of The Culture of Violence and the Violence of Culture 33 the victims were African Americans, any who lived at the margins of the white community might be violated. In 1884 four Mormons were killed at Cane Creek, Tennessee, when a mob attacked a house where the Saints were holding Sunday morning services (Sessions 212–13). In 1891 eleven Italians were lynched at the parish prison after they had been acquitted of assassinating the New Orleans police chief (Nelli 62). In 1895 the Mexican Florentino Suaste, who was charged with murdering a rancher, was carried from his jail cell in Cotulla, hanged, and then shot repeatedly (De León 91).

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