New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969. First edition. Octavo, original green paper boards over blue cloth spine, yellow endpapers, red top edge, uncut, original dust jacket. Fine. Item #535
"I AM CONCERNED THAT FUTURE CATHOLICS HAVE A LITERATURE" First edition of this posthumous collection by Flannery O'Connor, her first book of non-fiction and the second collection to appear after her death in 1964. The fourteen essays and addresses were divided between those items published during O'Connor's lifetime and those never before revised for publication. This "occasional prose" was selected and edited by her longtime friends Sally and Robert Fitzgerald and prefaced with their brief Foreword. "The modest confidence with which she spoke was justified, in the present view of the present editors, who in a like spirit present this book."
"For O'Connor the Catholic doctrines of creation, fall, and redemption were the lens through which she viewed the world. But as an artist she also valued the vivid sacramental dimension of Catholicism—the notion that grace is always mediated through nature and mystery through manners." (Robert Ellsberg, All Saints). Mystery and Manners is composed of six sections with an Appendix collecting two additional fragments. The fifth section presents four particularly rewarding pieces: The Church and the Fiction Writer, Novelist and Believer, Catholic Novelists and Their Readers, and The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South: "I am concerned that future Catholics have a literature. I want them to have a literature that will be undeniably theirs, but which will also be understood and cherished by the rest of our countrymen. A literature for ourselves alone is a contradiction in terms." Dust jacket designed by Guy Fleming, featuring Joe McTyre's famous photograph of O'Connor with a peacock, captioned: "Flannery O'Connor on the steps of her home in Milledgeville, Georgia." An immaculate copy.