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Wise Blood (1952)

de Flannery O'Connor

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3,8641123,200 (3.84)253
Flannery O'Connor's astonishing and haunting first novel is a classic of twentieth-century literature. It is the story of Hazel Motes, a twenty-two-year-old caught in an unending struggle against his innate, desperate faith. He falls under the spell of a "blind" street preacher named Asa Hawks and his degenerate fifteen-year-old daughter. In an ironic, malicious gesture of his own non-faith, and to prove himself a greater cynic than Hawks, Hazel founds The Church of God Without Christ but is still thwarted in his efforts to lose God. He meets Enoch Emery, a young man with "wise blood," who leads him to a mummified holy child and whose crazy maneuvers are a manifestation of Hazel's existential struggles. This tale of redemption, retribution, false prophets, blindness, and wisdom gives us one of the most riveting characters in American fiction.… (mais)
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O'Connor's genius is evident in the stunning writing in this heavily allegorical novel of small-town Southern misfits in search of faith. The characters are not sympathetic or likeable but their lives engender empathy on the part of the reader and keep us reading. The book initiated one of the better book club discussions we've had, wrestling with meaning and intentions of author and characters and events. I'll be reading more O'Connor. ( )
  featherbooks | May 7, 2024 |
Delightfully, deliciously grotesque. However I would have liked Hazel Motes to have been at least partially successful in his "Church Without Christ." O'Connor's point is undercut somewhat by the derision Haze gets for his efforts.
I think I prefer O'Connor's short stories to this. Honestly, a little smug Catholicism goes a long way. ( )
  ethorwitz | Jan 3, 2024 |
Wise Blood is a funny, beautifully written Southern Gothic novel about the nature of faith and redemption and the extremes individuals go through to negate faith and/or accept it. The book concerns Hazel Motes, a man determined to start a church without Christ but who in the end, gives into extreme acts of what we would consider extreme Medieval Christian faith such as blinding oneself, walking on rocks and glass, etc.. Hazel, who walks around in a haze, trying to deny Christ, finds that it only draws him closer to the truth. Motes is something of a nihilist with no particular religious beliefs other than the conviction that truth consists of the denial of established religions. Ultimately, he loses even the desire to see any truth at all, and is not apt to recognize it if he did. Hazel Motes is oblivious to the “mote” in his own eyes (Matthew 7.3).
The efforts of this conflicted soul to become something significant are pitiable, but hard to forget. He begins his career by purchasing an old wreck of a car, parking just outside movie theaters, standing on the car, and preaching to the crowds as they leave the theaters. He has little or no success in winning converts, but notices that another preacher, who happens to be blind, attracts more attention than he does. The other preacher’s blindness turns out to be phony, but Motes’ response to him and his comparative success has significant and severe consequences pushing Motes' closer to Christ. There’s more to the story than I have outlined here, but I would hate to ruin the reader’s “fun” in pursuing the novel to its end.

In her 1962 note to the second edition of the novel, O'Connor wrote: "That belief in Christ is to some a matter of life and death has been a stumbling block for readers who would prefer to think it a matter of no great consequence. For them, Hazel Motes's integrity lies in his trying with such vigour to get rid of the ragged figure who moves from tree to tree in the back of his mind. For the author, Hazel's integrity lies in his not being able to do so."

Wise Blood is a dark yet humorous book about evil, suffering, and hucksterism, and yes the nature of faith and grace. It is full of amazing symbolism which allows for repeat readings. The ending is a shocking as Motes may have accepted Christ and is trying to pay for his sins through self-harm.

Motes, can't escape his fate, so it seems. ( )
  ryantlaferney87 | Dec 8, 2023 |
Can't say that I loved this novel, but I've read it twice, so that says something. There's a lot in there to get one thinking about one's faith, and religion in general. I wouldn't think that most folks nowadays would like this book, but I do think you should give Miss O'Conner a try. I like her short-stories better. Helluva writer. ( )
  MickeyMole | Oct 2, 2023 |
I believe that a book should alter me is some way - just to have read it. This book didn't touch me. The story is numb and leaves the reader with nothing. ( )
  Kimberlyhi | Apr 15, 2023 |
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Pinchot, BronsonNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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Hazel Motes sat at a forward angle on the green plush train seat, looking one minute at the window as if he might want to jump out of it, and the next down the aisle at the other end of the car.
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Flannery O'Connor's astonishing and haunting first novel is a classic of twentieth-century literature. It is the story of Hazel Motes, a twenty-two-year-old caught in an unending struggle against his innate, desperate faith. He falls under the spell of a "blind" street preacher named Asa Hawks and his degenerate fifteen-year-old daughter. In an ironic, malicious gesture of his own non-faith, and to prove himself a greater cynic than Hawks, Hazel founds The Church of God Without Christ but is still thwarted in his efforts to lose God. He meets Enoch Emery, a young man with "wise blood," who leads him to a mummified holy child and whose crazy maneuvers are a manifestation of Hazel's existential struggles. This tale of redemption, retribution, false prophets, blindness, and wisdom gives us one of the most riveting characters in American fiction.

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