Flannery O’ Connor.The infinite measure of the limit
By Dino D’Agata, Annie Devlin, Abby Holtz, Nick Kraus, Stephen Lewis, John Martino, Pietro Rossotti, Amy Sapenoff, James Sternberg, Chiara Tanzi.
With the cooperation of Maria Fiorenza Matteoni.
Paraphrasing the words written by Robert Fitzgerald in his introduction to the colection of short stories Everything that Rises Must Converge, we can say that Flannery O’Connor was a brilliant young woman who began a career thanks to her talent as a playwright and fulfilled her life with a legacy of writings which reveal some of the deepest insights on human existence (Thomas Merton compared her to Sophocles).
A convinced catholic believer, Flannery O’Connor was born and raised in that part of the United States, the South, where Protestantism, frequently in its most fundamentalist and extreme expression, was the dominant religion. Her sensitivity was to be for all her life marked by the death of her father when she was 15 years old. In those circumstances she wrote: “The reality of death has come upon us and the awareness of the power of God has pierced our complacency like a bullet in our side.”
After a period as a brilliant student at the Iowa Writers Workshop, without doubt the most prestigious school for writers in America, she moved to New York where she met Robert and Sally Fitzgerald, and where, instead of achieving the natural accomplishment of her literary vocation among the most important artists of the East Coast, she discovered that she had inherited lupus; the same disease which had killed her father.
Nevertheless it was right at this time, when forced to return to her isolated home in Milledgeville, Georgia to live with her mother, that O’Connor discovered her profound greatness. The memorable characters and the unforgettable settings of her stories emerge from this forsaken part of the southern United States which she lived until her death at the early age of 39. She herself described her life in the isolate home in Georgia as “a life spent between home and garden”, but essentially by accepting these simple and dramatic circumstances – “vocation implies the limit experience” as she frequently repeated – she lived out that singular daily encounter with the Mystery. The illness, her writing, all is transformed in that path which brings to an increasingly greater understanding of how the Mystery speaks through those realities by itself created.
The exhibition begins with a brief view of the life of Flannery O’Connor and continues through a journey in the depth of her ideas, seen through the ideas of the believer, on the theme of the nature of writing as an artistic form.
The exhibition continues with some example extracts which document how her form of artistic creativity takes flesh in word. The final part of the exhibition highlights her last days passed in hospital where Flannery wrote her last stories and where she kept up her correspondence with her most intimate friends. These last stories and letters clearly express the nature of this woman and represent the accomplishment of her entire life, where the only acceptable measure of the limit is possibility of the infinite and the great Mystery which achieves all things.