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Premiere Announcement of The Walker Percy Project at the 1995 Percy Symposium

THE NEW WORLD READER, An Electronic Magazine

A Report on the 1995 Walker Percy Symposium

(April, 1995 issue, Vol. 1, No. 5)
by Thomas Newland

In the small, but busy town of Covington, LA, just across Lake Pontchatrain from New Orleans, about a hundred friends and admirers of Walker Percy recently gathered in the town's rustic Masonic Hall the weekend of March 25 to honor the memory and achievements of the celebrated novelist and philosopher. This year's symposium, held in the writer's hometown of some four decades, was the fourth annual gathering of Percy fans and scholars to meet in celebration of his life and work. The now yearly event first convened two years after the author's death in 1990 and is organized by the St. Tammany Parish Public Library.

This year's symposium featured several key speakers of interest to Percy aficionados. To begin, Dr. Edward Dupuy, a recent graduate of Louisiana State University and Director of Communications at St. Joseph's Abbey just outside of Covington (burial site of Percy) spoke on what he terms "The Enduring Percy Legacy." Among other reasons, Dupuy suggested that "we read Walker Percy because he calls us back to the mystery of our selves in time, consciousness, and language." Dupuy has a book forthcoming from LSU Press treating "Autobiography as Repetition" in the novels of Percy.

The afternoon presentation given by Fr. Patrick Samway, S.J., Percy's biographer, likewise proved insightful about the writer, but this time more personally. Samway spoke on the period in Percy's medical training during which he received psychiatric counseling in a talk the Jesuit Priest entitled "Walker Percy as a Patient-Medical Student." [Samway's presentation forms part his upcoming biography of Percy soon be published.]

Perhaps one of the more exciting presentations of the day was that given by Henry P. Mills, a Percy scholar currently working on a book entitled "Worldviews in Revolution: Walker Percy and the Enigma of Language." Mills has established in cooperation with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill a WorldWideWeb site which is devoted to providing a detailed and comprehensive database about Walker Percy to the internet. Point your web-browser to From all appearances of the demonstration given at the symposium, the project seems to show much promise as a future resource on Percy.

Photograph of Presentation by Henry P. Mills

Other presentations made at the symposium included a personal remembrance by Judge Brady Fitzsimmons, a poet and long-time friend of Percy, while Suzanne Parsons also offered an interpretive reading of a selection from Percy's novel The Moviegoer as a part of her dramatic literary readings. Additionally, Wayne Phillips of the Louisiana State Museum presented the museum's recently designed exhibit called "A Literary Louisiana Tour," a portion of which is dedicated to Percy.

Mrs. Percy and other close friends of the late author were in attendance at each of the symposium's main events.

For more information, contact:
St. Tammany Parish Library
310 21st Avenue, Covington, LA, 70433
Phone: 504/893-6282

Premiere Announcement of The Walker Percy Project
(Note computer-screen image of Percy on stool at left)

Thomas Newland is correspondent for "The New World Reader: An Electronic Magazine of Future, Fiction, and the Human Condition," which is distributed at no cost over the internet. Subscription inquiries to the "New World Reader" should be addressed to:

Paul M. Ryan, Photographer