Monday, April 1, 2013

Critical Essays on Walker Percy

Critical Essays on Walker Percy by J. Donald Crowley and Sue Mitchell Crowley. G. K. Hall, 1989.

Critical Interest on Walker Percy was written a year before his death. This book was written a year before Percy's death. It includes ten reviews, a Self-Interview, and thirteen extensive essays on Percy and his work. In addition, it includes an excellent introduction that provides biographical information and reviews the critical work on Percy before 1989. This introductory chapter is excellent. The good thing about this anthology is that it covers all of the novels and the two major non-fiction of Walker Percy. Some of my favorite essays are "The Pilgrimage of Walker Percy" by Alfred Kazin, "The Parabolic in Faulkner, O' Connor, and Percy" by Sally McFague, "The Eschatological Vision of Walker Percy" by Thomas LeClair, and "Walker Percy and Modern Gnosticism" by Cleaneth Brooks.

One of the themes of these essays are the writers who influenced Percy. The prominent writers who influenced Percy are Kierkegaard, Gabriel Marcel, Dostoyevsky, Camus, Sartre. This book shows some influences not mentioned much at this time, particularly Charles Peirce. Donald Crowley in the last chapter compares Percy with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Hawthorne, Emerson, and even Mark Twain. It had been mostly argued that Percy was influenced by European authors. Some of these essays situates Percy as an American writer. What I have found with Percy is that what he writes is not translation of the ideas of others. What he really is doing is using some of the ideas of others to communicate his own ideas. In addition, I find Percy to be a Christian writer. He is not writing Christian fiction but what he does writes is influenced by his Christian beliefs. There is also a depth to his writings. It rewards repeated readings.

There have been many recent books on Percy but this one is still worth reading. It does a good job of looking at the overall work of Percy and how he was received by critics. Percy continues to be popular among many readers and I do not see this popularity changing in the near future.

No comments:

Post a Comment