Following Percy: Essays on Walker Percy's Work

Following Percy: Essays on Walker Percy's Work

Following Percy: Essays on Walker Percy's Work

Following Percy: Essays on Walker Percy's Work

Synopsis

"Taken together, these pieces document Lawson's own highly intersubjective encounters with the characters who people Percy's world. Lawson knows the workings of that world in a way few can match . . . (he) writes a well-crafted and unfailingly lucid criticism."¿SEWANEE REVIEW

Excerpt

During a relatively short period, Walker Percy has had a remarkable career as a novelist. Winner of the National Book Award for his first published novel, The Moviegoer (1961), he has subsequently written The Last Gentleman (1966) and Love in the Ruins (1971). With the three novels he has gained the appreciation, respect, and trust of a large number of us for his ability to communicate what it is like to flourish in the contemporary objective-empirical world and yet desperately yearn to transcend that mode of existence.

Before the novels, though, Percy had begun to publish articles in scholarly journals. His targets ranged widely here, from the reviews, Sewanee and Partisan, to Thought, Modern Schoolman, and New Scholasticism, to Personalist, Journal of Philosophy, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, and Psychiatry -- an accomplishment probably as rare as a triple play. the variety of journals able to tolerate Percy's ideas is all the more remarkable when it is revealed, as The Message in the Bot-tle so discloses, that all of the essays are basically about the same set of ideas and that these ideas would not be completely congen-ial with any of the journals. That set of ideas explores the significance of the distinctively human ability to receive and convey symbols through language -- the only phenomenon on which to base an anthropology, maintains Percy -- although, strange to say, Percy has never published in a journal specializing in either linguistics or anthropology.

In the essays that comprise The Message in the Bottle, in other essays, and in his responses to interviewers Percy's willingness to discuss personal history has provided us with a body of information sufficient to suggest a context for his prevailing ideas. This is not to say, of course, that a knowledge of the data of his life adequately explicates his writing, any more than a knowledge of the ingredients for a recipe conveys the taste of the dish. Rather, it is simply to say that such knowledge should . . .

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