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 by means of cultural and literary critic Ren?© Girard, who keeps that exact human nature is formed through the need to mimic a version. Mimetic hope could lead in flip to contention, cruelty, and eventually community-sanctioned--and occasionally ritually sanctified--victimization of these deemed outcasts. Ciuba bargains an impressively vast highbrow dialogue that provides common cultural aspiring to the southern adventure of wish, violence, and divinity with which those 4 authors wrestled and out of which they wrote. In a entire research of Porter's semiautobiographical Miranda tales, Ciuba makes a speciality of the prescribed function of ladies that Miranda imitates and finally escapes. O'Connor's The Violent undergo It Away unearths 3 characters whose scandalous animosity brought on by non secular contention ends up in the insufferable stumbling block of violence. McCarthy's protagonist in baby of God, Lester Ballard, looks because the end result 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 turn into the basis of a brand new social regime. From nostalgia for the outdated order to visions of a utopian the next day to come, those authors have imagined the interrelationship of hope, antagonism, and faith all through southern heritage. Ciuba's insights provide new methods of analyzing Porter, O'Connor, McCarthy, and Percy in addition to their contemporaries who inhabited an identical tradition of violence--violence wanted, dreaded, denied, and deified.

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Additional 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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Yet the moral rectitude of evangelical culture was driven by a less provincial impulse than legislating piety and domesticity. It typified the way culture has regularly tried to eliminate any occasion of excess, lest violence erupt and escalate again toward catastrophe. If much of southern culture restricts or redirects violence, Girard’s work suggests that the origins of such violence might be found in imitation. The foremost model for any southerner is culture itself, for it supplies every member with compelling paradigms to follow.

Jesus modeled the most positive form of mimesis. The son re-presented the Father without ever positioning himself as the rival to God, without ever allowing desire to degenerate into envy and animosity. Instead, Jesus simply lived out his likeness to and harmony with divine love, and he invited his disciples to imitate his imitation. Jesus’s teaching warned against mimetic antagonism, exposed the killings that have dominated history since Cain, exhorted followers to eschew violence, and advocated caring for the victim.

He directs inquiry not just toward who might be the models but toward how the modeling works. He thus moves beyond sometimes simplistic theories about copycat violence to expose the dynamics that generate such doubling and aggression. What lies behind the imitation of southern violence is the violence of imitation itself, the mimetic struggle that joins subject, object, and mediator in the kind of bloody triangle that ended in the death of Norris Bendy. The class-conscious South of Jefferson’s slaveholders thrived on such imitation.

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