Giving the Devil His Due: Demonic Authority in the Fiction of Flannery O’Connor and Fyodor Dostoevsky

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


Giving the Devil His Due: Demonic Authority in the Fiction of Flannery O’Connor and Fyodor Dostoevsky


Jessica Hooten Wilson


Cascade Books (an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers)

Publication Date:

February 28, 2017




158 pages


Flannery O’Connor and Fyodor Dostoevsky occupy interesting places in Christian literature. Their stories present shocking portraits of sin in all its complexity, and often show the unusual ways that grace can reach even the worst sinners. Still, at least for Western Christians, their stories seem a bit too dark. Jessica Hooten Wilson uses historical research to show O’Connor’s interest in Dostoevsky’s work, and examines both writers’ works to show how they explored three theological motifs:

  • Characters who curse God for allowing suffering
  • Dangers of Christianity that tries to leave out Christ
  • Demonic figures and what makes them not just evil but distinctly demonic

Wilson does a great job of looking across both writers’ collected works to prove her thesis. She considers not only how these themes show up in well-known works like O’Connor’s Wise Blood and Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, but also their lesser-known short stories. She also  backs up her ideas with biographical research, noting that O’Connor studied Dostoevsky and citing notes that O’Connor made in her personal copies of his work.

A fascinating new look into an understudied topic in Christian literature.


Rating (1 to 5 stars)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

Book lovers and literature students interested in theological themes in the works of Flannery O’Connor and Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Christian Impact

Christians looking for book with unique theological themes will appreciate this study of two seminal and often underappreciated Christian writers.

Giving the Devil His Due

Giving the Devil His Due


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