When Fiction and Philosophy Meet: A Conversation with Flannery O'Connor and Simone Weil by E. Jane Doering, Ruthann Knechel Johansen

Author: Kelli Brown

Johanssen Doering Book Cover

An innovative new book, WHEN FICTION AND PHILOSOPHY MEET explores the intersection between the philosophy of Simone Weil from Paris, France, and the fiction of Flannery O’Connor from the Southern state of Georgia, USA. In an era of war, of unprecedented human displacements, and of ethnic, racial, and religious fears the ideas of these two intellectuals bear on our present condition. 

Both women keenly desired to perceive the realities of good and evil inherent in human existence and to bring this truth to the consciousness of their contemporaries. Embracing their belief that truth is eternal but must be transposed and translated, generation after generation, in language appropriate to each age, the authors acquaint O’Connor readers with concepts in Weil’s religious philosophy as seen in O’Connor’s stories.

Doering and Johansen simultaneously illustrate how Weil’s philosophy, when embodied in fiction, reveals the lived realities of the human condition across time and space. Simone Weil and Flannery O’Connor were audacious thinkers with inquiring minds who held clear and firm religious convictions. Each applied her understandings of enduring spiritual truths to the challenges of nihilism and social oppression as seen in the spreading totalitarianism and the distressing legacy of slavery throughout human history.

Both Weil and O’Connor crossed disciplinary boundaries and influenced their respective fields with innovative ideas and artistic expressions. Taking their cues from these writers, Doering and Johansen bring these two remarkable women into a four-voiced dialogue--Simone Weil and Flannery O’Connor with Doering and Johansen--by engaging each writer in the forms of her own genre and inviting readers to enter a dialogue of courage with Weil and O’Connor in the postmodern and post-Christian world.

When Fiction and Philosophy Meet: A Conversation with Flannery O’Connor and Simone Weil (Mercer University Press, 2019), co-authored by Ruthann K. Johansen, Professor Emerita in the Program of Liberal Studies and Kroc Institute Faculty Fellow, and E. Jane Doering, Director Emerita of the Teachers as Scholars Program.