Review by: William Sessions - May 2, 2011
A splendid study. Wendy Piper has produced one of the most compelling readings of Flannery O'Connor by showing, as no one else has, her deep roots in Hawthorne's generic originality of the romance. With Piper's superb precise insights into both the Hawthorne and the O'Connor canons, Piper goes further; she enlarges her interpretation by incorporating the hermeneutical method of the great 20th century German philosopher, Hans-Georg Gadamer. She defies the "scientism" that describes so many current interpretations of both Romance-writers. Gadamer's "fusion of horizons" and theory of knowledge as dialogic reveal, in Piper's analysis, an ongoing method of reading romance as a place of freedom for the art of both masters. There the fiction of both opens up for that act of contemplation O'Connor sees as the opening to the mystery at the heart of every good story. However rising from particulars, such fiction for O'Connor ends in a dialectical freedom, a whole greater than its parts and not to limited by them. In its way, Piper's study is sturdy milestone pointing the way.