Sunday, July 15, 2007

Walker Percy

In Percy’s own novels many of his characters face the challenge of suicide. Some succeed in overcoming it, while others do not. In his first novel, The Moviegoer (1961), Kate Cutrer contemplates suicide in Camusian fashion as a way of “keeping herself alive.” Her love for Binx Bolling helps her to contend with the temptation to suicide. In The Last Gentleman (1966), Will Barrett’s father commits suicide in despair over the collapse of the Southern code of honor and virtue, much like Quentin Compson. Will’s adoptive father-figure, Dr. Sutter Vaught, tries unsuccessfully to kill himself, and vows not to fail in his next attempt. In Love in the Ruins (1971), Dr. Tom More attempts suicide when his daughter dies and his marriage subsequently collapses. In The Second Coming (1980), an older Will Barrett makes a suicidal descent into a cave as a perverse Pascalian wager to force God either to reveal Himself and save him, or allow him to die—in which case the question of God’s existence would become a moot point, so he argues. Instead, an ordinary toothache drives Will from the cave and back to the world, where he finds a saving love with Alison Huger. --John F. Desmond, Walker Percy and Suicide, Modern Age, Winter 2005

Recommended reading:
by Walker Percy at Reading Rat


Walker Percy, The Mississippi Writers Page

The Walker Percy Project

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Lost in the Cosmos and Lost in the Cosmos: A few more thoughts. Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas (via Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor)

Walker Percy: Doctor of the Soul, by Gregory Wolfe, Godspy, April 20, 2004

Surviving His Own Bad Habits: A previously unpublished interview with Walker Percy, by Robyn Leary, DoubleTake no. 19

The Homesick Homeless, by Molly Finn, First Things, May 1993

Walker Percy and the Christian Scandal, by Marion Montgomery, First Things, April 1993

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