LATROBE, PA – Dr. Jerome C. Foss, associate professor of political science at Saint Vincent College, recently published a book entitled Flannery O’Connor and the Perils of Governing by Tenderness.
The book’s subject is Flannery O’Connor, who wrote two novels and 32 short stories. A native of Georgia, she set most of her works in the southeastern U.S., and her devout Catholic faith was often reflected in her writing. O’Connor passed away at the age of 39 in 1964 but remains a prominent figure in 20th-century fiction writing. In 1972, O’Connor’s Complete Stories won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction.
Foss’ book explores O’Connor’s deep interest in the history of political philosophy and its influence on her stories. Foss argues that O’Connor understood the ideas upon which the American regime rests and she regularly evaluated those ideas from the standpoint of both faith and reason. His research included two trips to Milledgeville, Georgia, where O’Connor lived.
“I was very fortunate to be able to peruse O’Connor’s private collection of books,” Foss explains, “She was an eclectic reader and had a deep interest in the history of political philosophy. She understood Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Machiavelli, Nietzsche and others. She also read books about political philosophy, and even published book reviews about them.”
Foss’ book has already been praised. “By revisiting O’Connor’s eclectic bookshelves and acknowledging her expansive intellect, Dr. Foss convincingly argues that O’Connor’s stories project a significant understanding of the history of political philosophy, from Plato to Heidegger,” said Christine Flanagan, author of The Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon. “O’Connor’s well-documented quest to understand her faith through fiction brings her stories into dialogue with classical, medieval and modern schools of political thought. A valuable read.”
“Foss’ study is a welcome breath of fresh air and an important addition to O’Connor studies, and none too soon,” said Michael Bruner, author of A Subversive Gospel: Flannery O’Connor and the Reimagining of Beauty, Goodness and Truth. “In our present age of competing political ideologies, this book serves as a dual aim for two kinds of readers: to introduce those familiar with O’Connor to a deeper appreciation of the political significance of her works, and to introduce those more interested in political philosophy to the corrective that O’Connor’s emphasis on incarnational truth demands. Foss’s excellent study addresses an obvious lacuna in O’Connor scholarship, and at the same time, reminds us that, as theories go, they only finally matter if they translate to the world of flesh and blood.”
Flannery O’Connor and the Perils of Governing by Tenderness is available for purchase online through Lexington Books.
This is Foss’ second book to be published. The first is Constitutional Democracy and Judicial Supremacy: John Rawls and the Transformation of American Politics, which was released in July 2018 by Cambria Press.
Photo 1: Dr. Jerome C. Foss
Photo 2: Cover of Flannery O’Connor and the Perils of Governing by Tenderness
YouTube: Saint Vincent College