The Good, the Bad, and Flannery

I’m in the midst of a writing frenzy at present, so for your reading pleasure I present an excerpt from Flannery O’Connor’s “The Nature and Aim of Fiction,” which may be found in the volume of her speeches and essays, Mystery and Manners. This came to me some weeks ago courtesy of Adam DeVille, who perused my Amazon Wish List and couldn’t contain the goodness of his heart. You could all take a lesson from Adam.

But back to Flannery:

“Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher. . .

Now in every writing class you find people who care nothing about writing, because they think they are already writers by virtue of some experience they’ve had. It is a fact that if, either by nature or training, these people can learn to write badly enough, they can make a great deal of money, and in a way it seems a shame to deny them this opportunity; but then, unless the college is a trade school, it still has a responsibility to truth, and I believe myself that these people should be stifled with all deliberate speed.

Now a brain teaser: who can make the connection between this excerpt and a famous 1970’s sitcom?


  1. Tony

    Well, it’s back to the caverns for me, but if anyone can identify the other connection, leave a comment and I will get back to it eventually. (For those of you who haven’t figured it out, your comments only post once I approve them, which is why sometimes there is a delay). Nice work, Patrice. You know the other answer, but you’re letting the nature of your initial answer keep you from seeing it.

  2. JP

    I was thinking more along the lines of the 1970s drama with John Houseman in the Paper Chase

    He played a tough professor that would gladly stifle a student

  3. Gary R Sweeten

    How about MASH? It was all about the brainy and erudite ones putting down people in authority who were educated but stupid. Flannery’s comment plays upon the archetype of the underdogs who trump the arrogant elite.

  4. Patrice

    Okay, I’ll give it one more shot. I think it has to do with Archie’s opinion that all college had done for his son-in-law, Michael (Meathead), was to make him believe he knew more than he actually did and was smarter than he really was (and Archie was correct in that regard) and feed his arrogance. Archie was also always trying to get Michael to stifle himself.

  5. Rachel

    and let’s not forget that Carol O’Connor himself has a Master’s Degree in English.

    I don’t know if that applies to Tony’s question at all, but it is a little piece of trivia.. 🙂

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