What is the meaning of “had sent him a rage of vision” in this excerpt:

The old man was in a position to know what his ideas were. He had lived for three months in the nephew's house on what he had thought at the time was Charity but what he said he had found out was not Charity or anything like it. All the time he had lived there, the nephew had secretly been making a study of him. The nephew, who had taken him in under the name of Charity, had at the same time been creeping into his soul by the back door, asking him questions that meant more than one thing, planting traps around the house and watching him fall into them, and finally coming up with a written study of him for a schoolteacher magazine. The stench of his behaviour had reached heaven and the Lord Himself had rescued the old man. He had sent him a rage of vision, had told him to fly with the orphan boy to the farthest part of the backwoods and raise him up to justify his Redemption. The Lord had assured him a long life and he had snatched the baby from under the schoolteacher's nose and taken him to live in[…]”

From the book The Violent Bear It Away, by Flannery O’Connor (ch.1, p.4).

  • Can you give the source of this passage?
    – Mitch
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 13:47
  • The Lord sent him a vision - so he saw inside his head what to do. A rage: an intense feeling. So an intense vision I would say
    – mplungjan
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 14:54

1 Answer 1


O'Connor is probably alluding to Plato's enthusiasm or divine mania, of which he identifies (in the Phaedrus) four types: prophetic, ritual, poetic, and erotic. It is the prophetic or “visionary” type which would be in play here.

These madnesses are frequently referred to by their traditional Latin translations, furor propheticus, &c; and furor in turn may be (and often is) translated by English rage. Thus Arthur Symonds, in The Symbolist Movement in Literature, writes of Rimbaud:

See how completely he is conscious, and how completely he is at the mercy, of that hallucinatory rage of vision, vision to him being always force, power, creation, which, on some of his pages, seems to become sheer madness, and on others a kind of wild but absolute insight.

  • Wow, what a great & helpful description.
    – Peyman
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 16:55
  • You can do this sort of thing all day long with O'Connor: she marries a marvellous ear for Southern speech and a profound allusive depth. Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 17:07
  • Excuse me Stoney, after some days It's vague for me yet. I'm trying to translate 'the violent...' to persian. But I'm stuck here. Would you clarify it to me? Is it a 'inspiration' that the lord give him? Or the Lord give him a madness, a prophetic madness? Or maybe it is a visionary rage ( a kind of rage that he can see God's message through it? Or something else? I'm too confused.
    – Peyman
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 6:45
  • 1
    @Peyman Well, it's all those things: O'Connor is a poet! God conferred upon him a [vehement/violent/angry] [madness/prophetic state] in which he truly saw [in some sense] what must be done. -But keep in mind that this is the old man's understanding of what he did/what happened to him.- I'd look at your own poetic/prophetic tradition for terms which carry the same range of meanings. Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 11:57

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