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Walker Percy: Modern Critical Views


Harold Bloom, Editor

— This volume includes critical essays on the works of Walker Percy by distinguished scholars and critics. Edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom.

Walker Percy combines moral and religious concerns with ironic detachment in The Moviegoer, winner of The National Book Award in 1961. This detachment tends to vanish in subsequent novels including Love in the Ruins, Lancelot, and The Last Gentleman, where it is replaced by an overwhelming prophetic fervor. As Harold Bloom notes, Percy "attempt[s] to employ the novel as a spiritual weapon against the malaise of the age." In The Moviegoer, the hero Binx Bollings's search for meaning in life prefigures Percy's spiritual quest, a search which has become Percy's major concern in his fiction.

Among the distinguished scholars and critics who contribute their analyses to this volume, Tony Tanner compares Binx Bollings to Melville's Ishmael and Fitzgerald's Nick Carraway; Patricia Lewis Poteat examines Percy as a storyteller and a philosophical essayist; and Frederick C. Crews praises Love in the Ruins as a serio-comic masterpiece.

Other leading contributors include Martin Luschei, Cleanth Brooks, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Pindell, Simone Vauthier, Jerome C. Christensen, and Doreen A. Fowler..

Walker Percy: Modern Critical Views is one of over 200 volumes in the Modern Critical Views series, published by Chelsea House. Taken together, these volumes represent a comprehensive collection of the best current criticism of the authors of the most widely read poems, novels, stories, essays, and dramas of the Western world. Also included are a bibliography, notes on the contributors, and a chronology of the author's life.

"Like Huck [Finn], Binx [Bollings] longs for freedom while fearing solitude. But an Existentialist Huck Finn is a sublime joke, and this joke still seems to me Percy's authentic and very considerable achievement. The Moviegoer... is a permanent American fiction." – Harold Bloom

"[The] basic themes of Percy's novels are not merely the private and special insights of an important novelist, and are certainly not to be regarded as the privileged crankiness of a somewhat eccentric Roman Catholic intellectual. They have a close relation to a powerful and searching criticism of the modern world.... – Cleanth Brooks

"Walker Percy is one of our most engaging stylists, an original and rather quirky 'Southern' novelist who resists facile classifications. – Joyce Carol Oates

Table of Contents

Harold Bloom, General Editor, is Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale University. Widely recognized as one of America's leading literary critics, he is the author of more than thirty anthologies of both literature and literary criticism. Professor Bloom earned his Ph.D. in Literature from Yale University in 1955 and has been on the Yale faculty ever since. He has received numerous awards for his work in literary theory and criticism, [including] a MacArthur Prize Fellowship (1985).

Publication Date: August 1986