The Violent Bear It Away Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
First published in 1960, The Violent Bear It Away is now a landmark in American literature. It is a dark and absorbing example of the gothic sensibility and bracing satirical voice that are united in Flannery O'Conner's work. In it, the orphaned Francis Marion Tarwater and his cousin, Rayber, defy the prophecy of their dead uncle - that Tarwater will become a prophet and will baptize Rayber's young son, Bishop. A series of struggles ensue, as Tarwater fights an internal battle against his innate faith and the voices calling him to be a prophet, while Rayber tries to draw Tarwater into a more “reasonable” modern world. Both wrestle with the legacy of their dead relatives and lay claim to Bishop's soul.
O'Connor observes all this with an astonishing combination of irony and compassion, humor and pathos. The result is a novel whose range and depth reveal a brilliant and innovative writer acutely alert to where the sacred lives and where it does not.
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|Listening Length||6 hours and 15 minutes|
|Author||Flannery O’ Connor|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||September 02, 2010|
|Publisher||Blackstone Audio, Inc.|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #126,551 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#3,610 in Classic Literature (Audible Books & Originals)
#7,277 in Historical Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#15,566 in Classic Literature & Fiction
Top reviews from the United States
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And the one thing about reading O’Connor: she forces the reader to think. Through dark characters, elements, symbolism, conflict and themes, she not only makes a reader uncomfortable, but challenges their perceptions and values through these elements. Reading O’Connor is never a light or passive experience; she thrusts you (whether you are ready or not) quite often into a deeply troubled individual’s conscience and lets you stew around a bit and have to think with them. You must come to some conclusion along with them.
We see this in her final novel (and perhaps her most challenging) in the case of Francis Marion Tarwater. He is a teenager torn between the religious world of his fanatical great uncle , Mason Tarwater, has set for him and the atheistic world of his school teacher uncle, Rayber. Within this division, young Tarwater also encounters many forces and conflicts (physical, emotional) within the world that tempt him, or force him towards deciding to take one path or another. These two paths are pitted against each other and at odds in Tarwater’s conscience for the duration of the novel.
I think O’Conner has a profound way of capturing this conflict in her prose:
“…his mind had been engaged in a continual struggle with the silence that confronted him…It was a strange waiting silence. It seemed to lie all around him like an invisible country whose borders he was always on the edge of, always in danger of crossing.”
I have to say that that final chapter is quite profound. O’Connor really turns it up a notch and puts everything together so convincingly (at least, in my mind she does). There is such a sophisticated level of symbolism, a deeply intricate level of figurative meaning that I had to go back and reread passages a few times and read slower so I wouldn’t miss anything. O’Connor really ties it all together yet still manages to leave room for interpretation. It really was one of the more ponderous chapters I’ve read in a long time.
One of the rewards of reading O’Connor and her novel The Violent Bear it Away is that she continually makes the reader active and thinking about possibilities. I’ll be the first to profess that I’m still trying to put all the pieces together for this novel, but one of the beauties of reading is that we can find our own interpretations. The Violent Bear It Away is such a book that allows for various levels of analysis and discussion; it is not an easy experience by any means, but it's a book you can come back to and find a new level of interpretation. But, that’s totally fine, because I think we as readers need to be challenged to find meaning.
That being said, I do not believe this is the work for the first time reader of O'Connor to begin with. I think it would be best to begin with some of the stories in her collection. These stories often carry the same themes as her novels, but are a smaller sample size and a bit more focused and compact in their telling.
Although The Violent Bear It Away is at times dark, grotesque, and troubling, I think it is a profound work.
Flannery O'Connor, a devout Catholic, was super-critical of fundamentalist Protestants. Her short stories and two novels either explored dark religious themes or were tinged with often morbid religious undertones.
THE VIOLENT BEAR IT AWAY's title is taken from a verse in the Douay-Rhiens Catholic Bible at Matthew 11:12: "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away."
I'll forego delving into possible meanings of the title, and any discussion of the novel gives away what happens at and near the end of the book. I'll just say that it's a BRUTAL book, dealing with a 14-year-old boy, fanatical, Southern fundamentalists and the related themes of destruction and redemption.
If you are looking for an enjoyable summer read, perhaps you should look elsewhere. If you'd like to get a sampling of the deeply dark, morbid and haunting world of Southern fundamentalist ol' time religion, purchase now.