A Prayer Journal

A Prayer Journal

Book - 2013
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"I would like to write a beautiful prayer," writes the young Flannery O'Connor in this deeply spiritual journal, recently discovered among her papers in Georgia. "There is a whole sensible world around me that I should be able to turn to Your praise." Written between 1946 and 1947 while O'Connor was a student far from home at the University of Iowa, A Prayer Journal is a rare portal into the interior life of the great writer. Not only does it map O'Connor's singular relationship with the divine, but it shows how entwined her literary desire was with her yearning for God. "I must write down that I am to be an artist. Not in the sense of aesthetic frippery but in the sense of aesthetic craftsmanship; otherwise I will feel my loneliness continually . . . I do not want to be lonely all my life but people only make us lonelier by reminding us of God. Dear God please help me to be an artist, please let it lead to You."

O'Connor could not be more plain about her literary ambition: "Please help me dear God to be a good writer and to get something else accepted," she writes. Yet she struggles with any trace of self-regard: "Don't let me ever think, dear God, that I was anything but the instrument for Your story."

As W. A. Sessions, who knew O'Connor, writes in his introduction, it was no coincidence that she began writing the stories that would become her first novel, Wise Blood , during the years when she wrote these singularly imaginative Christian meditations. Including a facsimile of the entire journal in O'Connor's own hand, A Prayer Journal is the record of a brilliant young woman's coming-of-age, a cry from the heart for love, grace, and art.

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2013
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780374236915
0374236917
Branch Call Number: Philosophy & Religion 282.092 OCO
Additional Contributors: Sessions, William A

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dennismmiller
Sep 15, 2016

In 1946, 21 year old Flannery O'Connor moved from her home in Georgia to Iowa City, with the intention to study journalism. Instead, she fell in love with writing. In the meantime, she struggled to maintain and mature in her faith while living in an alien environment that was largely hostile to it. A Prayer Journal is a short journal in which she carried on her end of a conversation with God over the course of 21 months, during which time she also began writing Wise Blood.

The work is sometimes revealing, somewhat tragic, and occasionally funny (one is reminded of O'Connor's sharp wit when she regrets having over-criticized a fellow participant in a writing workshop). It feels a bit uneasy intruding into the intimate spiritual space of someone who was never comfortable with attention, but was, as these pages demonstrate, guiltily aware of her own desire for fame.

If this hadn't been written by Flannery O'Connor, it would be uninteresting - it was, after all, never intended for publication. As it is, it is a valuable resource for anyone interested in her or her writing, although no doubt less valuable than Habit of Being. The book includes a transcript of the journal entries along with a mimeographed reproduction of the pages themselves.

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1aa
Jan 10, 2015

Soft, subtle, truthful, intimate, and ruthless.

patienceandfortitude Jan 24, 2014

If you love Flannery O'Connor this little book will wow you. We see her spiritual life up close and marvel at her wisdom at such a young age. God must have gotten such a kick out of her demand to be made a mystic immediately! Yet, she was also very humble and feared her own lack of talent and intelligence. It is humbling to read, as well as delightful.

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