Title

Visions of Glory by O'Connor and El Greco

Department

English

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-14-2019

Abstract

In 1956, two days after Christmas, Flannery O’Connor thanked her friend William Sessions for the book entitled Three Mystics: El Greco, St. John of the Cross, and St. Teresa of Avila. She writes, “I have been highly enjoying the beautiful book [Three Mystics] about St. Theresa [sic] and St. John and El Greco”.[1] That El Greco directly influenced O’Connor might be untenable, but that they shared an unconventional aesthetic is certainly arguable. El Greco’s painting The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (1586-88) and O’Connor’s later fiction both portray visions of glory in the same way: heaven is lively, while life on earth freezes. One notes the theological irony that O’Connor and El Greco attribute stillness to living bodies, the creedal “quick,” while they assign to the creedal “dead” explosive dynamism. In their respective art, O’Connor resists staid religious imagery with her signature uncanny mystical endings, while El Greco asserts his individualistic style, simultaneously embracing the heightened splendor associated with the recent Catholic Counter-Reformation.

[1] O’Connor, The Habit of Being, 189.

Publication Title

English Studies

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2019 English Studies.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1080/0013838X.2019.1610244

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