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Flannery O’Connor Reads, 1959

June 4, 2012 | by

It wasn’t until Open Culture shared this 1959 recording of Flannery O’Connor reading the title story of A Good Man Is Hard to Find that we realized we didn’t know what her voice sounded like. The thirty-four-year-old author’s Georgia accent is pronounced, and she puts over the story with a deadpan panache that brings out its full humor and horror. Truly a treat for a gray day.



  1. Shelley | June 4, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Kind of a Frida Kahlo vibe to that photo….

  2. Clare | June 4, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    This is amazing!! What a insightful treasure…

  3. Michelle in NYC | June 4, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Thank you Sadie–these links are pure gold for anyone who loves to be read to!

  4. Ojimenez | June 6, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Hearing the actual voice of Flannery O’connor reading her work, this story in particular, was startling, endearing, and strange. Strange mainly because the voice in the recording was not the familiar voice of the author that has inhabited my mind after years of hearing her voice with my eyes, and having developed an ‘ear’ for the tone, cadence, and rhythm in which she writes her stories and her letters.

    I can’t say that hearing the author read the story adds anything new to the story, except of course, the surprisingly odd addition of what I would consider a ‘laugh track’. THAT was surprising. I never envisioned the author as a performer of sorts reading to an audience.

    Despite having had a face and a voice comfortably established in my mind after years of reading and studying Ms. O’connor, this recording made me wish I had had the opportunity to meet her. Although, from what I’ve read, her Georgia accent was at times impossible to understand. But her writing… Oh, her writing, the stuff of Angels.

  5. Jane | June 8, 2012 at 7:57 am

    how long is the reading?

  6. jlpf | July 6, 2012 at 11:08 am

    As I read through the book of O’Connor’s letters, “The Habit of Being,” I started noting some of my favorite quotes. Here’s one:
    “Wouldn’t it be better for you to discover a meaning in what you write than to impose one? Nothing you write will lack meaning because the meaning is in you.”

  7. Rebecca Reagan | March 26, 2014 at 9:37 am

    What a pleasure to hear her read this great story–

  8. Irene Perkins | March 27, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Sounds like home town to me.

  9. Lee Browne | March 26, 2015 at 11:04 am

    This was the best possible present I could receive for Flannery’s 80th birthday. My late husband, Bob Browne, and I discovered Flannery together on a road trip in the 70s as we read her stories aloud to each other (with our Illinois and New York voices, alas). Thank you Open Culture and Paris Review!

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10 Pingbacks

  1. […] Paris Review just linked this gem, which I am linking here: Flannery O’Connor reading A Good Man is Hard […]

  2. […] here’s O’Connor herself, reading her most famous story aloud: Open Culture (via The Paris Review). Dig that accent. Like this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  3. Grace Bello says:

    […] O’Connor reads the title story of A Good Man Is Hard to Find. A treat for a gray day (via Open […]

  4. […] * Listen to Flannery O’ Connor read “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” […]

  5. […] I managed to find a recording of O’Connor reading “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” and listening to her Southern brassy inflections made me the happiest person alive. Hearing the audience break into laughter at the beats was incredible. And the story itself is sheer perfection, of course. I can *literally* see any Southern grandma being so stubborn and obstinate about finding this one particular house that she ends up getting everyone in the family killed and is so crazy/kooky about the entire ordeal that the whole scenario becomes a joke. You laugh because you hate the grandmother. You laugh because she’s such a caricature. You laugh because she’s so desperate to save her own life that she forgets that the rest of her family even exists. You laugh because she gets shot for being selfish…then your laugh becomes uneasy because you’re not sure it’s kosher to laugh at an old woman being shot three times in a ditch. And that’s exactly where O’Connor wants you to be: in that uncomfortable spot between a rock and a hard place that good Southern Gothic literature forces you to examine. […]

  6. […] I saw earlier this week that The Paris Review tweeted, in honor of her birthday, this 2012 blog post with a recording of Flannery O’Connor reading her classic story “A Good Man is Hard […]

  7. […] O’Connor’s birthday, here she is reading the eponymous story from her collection, A Good Man is Hard to Find. | The Paris […]

  8. […] Flannery O’Connor Reads, 1959 […]

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