Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy & Bruce Springsteen? Yes.

I’ve never been a huge Bruce Springsteen fan, but might revise my meh attitude upon learning that he’s a fan and serious reader of Flannery O’Connor, as explained by Damian Ference of Dappled Things:

In an interview with Walker Percy’s nephew [that’s another interesting tidbit in itself], Springsteen explains his initial draw to O’Connor: “The really important reading that I did began in my late twenties, with authors like Flannery O’Connor. There was something in those stories of hers that I felt captured a certain part of the American character that I was interested in writing about. They were a big, big revelation.”

Walker Percy

You can find that interview with Will Percy here.  I hadn’t known that Walker Percy had been a Boss fan and had sent a mash note to Springsteen not long before Percy died.  Turns out the Boss read Walker Percy’s novels, too.  I acquired my taste for O’Connor from Russell Kirk; maybe the Boss might start with some of Kirk’s literary criticism of T.S.Eliot, or his ghost stories, and then slide into The Conservative Mind?  Stranger things have happened in the arts (see: David Mamet).

Anyway, Ference concludes:

Flannery O’Connor served Bruce Springsteen as a bearer of a long tradition of naming sin, which she inherited from reading the Bible, as well as the works of Augustine, Aquinas, Dostoevsky, Joyce, Maritan, Gilson, and Chardin, to name but a few. Through her short stories, O’Connor passed on her worldview to Springsteen, which made a significant mark on his song writing, and which continues to influence the likes of U2, Lucinda Williams, PattyGriffin, Josh Ritter, Arcade Fire, and other contemporary artists who also recognize the fallen world and write good music about it. And although it is true that Springsteen may not be a saint, he continues to be a great Catholic songwriter. He proudly professes that Flannery O’Connor left her mark on him: the ability to name sin—a priceless gift to any postmodern writer.

I may just have to start a special O’Connor-Percy Power Line thread, to go with my previous ones on Hayek, Burnham, etc.

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