Flannery O’Connor Quotes

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.

I write to discover what I know.

I find that most people know what a story is until they fall under the spell of the written word.

Grace changes us and the change is painful.

Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to was never there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.

It is better to be young in your failures than old in your successes.

I don’t deserve any credit for turning the other cheek as my tongue is always in it.

Faith is what someone knows to be true, whether they believe it or not.

I preach there are all kinds of truth, your truth and somebody else’s, but behind all of them, there is only one truth and that is that there’s no truth.

Conviction without experience makes for harshness.

We hear a great deal about the rudeness of the rising generation. I am an oldster myself and might be expected to take the oldsters’ side, but in fact, I have been far more impressed by the bad manners of parents to children than by those of children to parents.

What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.

The things that upset people aren’t the things that happen popcorning down the street. They’re things they take into the canyons of their own skulls and drop on their own foot.

I think the devil doesn’t exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.

I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe.

The greatest weapon against error is truth.

A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way.

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.

All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.

Fiction is about everything human and we are made out of dust, and if you scorn getting yourself dusty, then you shouldn’t try to write fiction.

The operation of the Church is entirely set up for the sinner; which creates much misunderstanding among the smug.

You have to push as hard as the age that pushes against you.

People with no imagination feed the worst wolf.

To expect too much is to have a sentimental view of life and this is a softness that ends in bitterness.

I am interested in making up a good case and living in it.

Something has gone wrong in the world when a man and a woman can’t have a kind of love for each other that is rich and friendly enough to include in it the possibility of a very deep liking and respect.

The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention.

Everywhere I go, I’m asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.

Art never responds to the wish to make it democratic; it is not for everybody; it is only for those who are willing to undergo the effort needed to understand it.

I am a child of the middle class straight, white, and Methodist. I didn’t even consider myself well connected. This has been an advantage.

The basis of art is truth, both in matter and in mode.

Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay.

Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.

She looked at nice young men as if she could smell their stupidity.

Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.

The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet. His problem is to find that location.

My audience are the people who think they can do no good. They have at least that conviction and more power to them.

In the South there’s always been more time than elsewhere. This is what the writers probably mean when they say that the South is ‘southern.’

Don’t look at me like I’m an encyclopedia. The proof of your convictions has to be in your life.

We have to be about our Father’s business.

Total non-retention has kept my education from being a burden to me.

The writer should approach gesture with the same precision that the good actor does.

There is something in us that responds to the call of a work of art.

There’s many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.

If you live today, you breathe in nihilism … it’s the gas you breathe. If I hadn’t had the Church to fight it with or to tell me the necessity of fighting it, I would be the stinkingest logical positivist you ever saw right now.

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