‘There are So Many Horrible Examples of Regional Writers, and the South is Loaded’

  • Eudora Welty
  • Caroline Gordon
  • Katherine Anne Porter
  • Flannery O’Connor


The critics have not agreed with Flannery O’Connor’s dismissive joke. For them, rather than ‘horrible examples’ the South has supplied some of the best of modern American writing. While O’Connor warns of the facile diminution of the area’s literature to ‘regional writers’, critics including Louis Rubin, Richard Gray and C. Hugh Holman discover a richly serious body of conscious artists. They emphasise the centrality of history to the Southern writer; the tragedy at the imaginative heart of this literature; the interest in religion; the attentiveness to the material specificities of life and the suspicion of abstract philosophising. Southern literature seems to possess sufficient coherence as a corpus of work to sustain generalisations such as the comment that these writers ‘have tended to depict man’s nature as being religious, to view the individual very much as a creature of time and history, to assume the individual’s commitment to society and his determining role within it’.2 One is also struck by the assumption in these critical accounts that Southern writing encompasses both men and women. Caroline Gordon, Katherine Anne Porter, Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor: all have featured regularly in critical accounts since the 1950s. Indeed, there is a strong case for suggesting that literary criticism of the South was feminist avant la lèttre.3


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Copyright information

© Guy Reynolds 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eudora Welty
  • Caroline Gordon
  • Katherine Anne Porter
  • Flannery O’Connor

There are no affiliations available

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