112—Walker Percy’s Angelic-Bestial Future—Jessica Hooten Wilson
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“Now in these dread latter days of the old violent beloved U.S.A. and of the Christ-forgetting Christ-haunted death-dealing Western world I came to myself in a grove of young pines and the question came to me: has it happened at last?”
So wonders Dr. Tom More, a descendant of the great English martyr, in the first sentence of Walker Percy’s third novel, Love in the Ruins: The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at Time near the End of the World.
Written in 1971, this prophetic work presents a world startlingly like our own. Today’s guest, literary scholar Jessica Hooten Wilson, joins the show to give a general introduction to Percy and discuss aspects of what is for many his most beloved novel, Love in the Ruins, which she describes as a “panoramic satire” indicating that modernity’s “lost sense of self makes it impossible to live the good life”.
- How Percy’s Southernity informed his fiction
- His keen and ruthless observation of race relations
- His recurring commentary on the modern disjunction between mind and body, what protagonist Tom More calls oscillation between the angelic and the bestial
- His use of apocalyptic themes
- His treatment of love between men and women
- The lasting significance of his work
Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins https://www.amazon.com/Love-Ruins-Walker-Percy/dp/0312243111
Jessica Hooten Wilson https://jessicahootenwilson.com/
JHW, Reading Walker Percy’s Novels https://www.amazon.com/Reading-Walker-Percys-Novels-Jessica/dp/0807168777
JHW, Walker Percy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the Search for Influence https://www.amazon.com/Dostoevsky-Influence-Literature-Religion-Postsecular/dp/0814213499
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Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus.
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