Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

112—Walker Percy’s Angelic-Bestial Future—Jessica Hooten Wilson

By Catholic Culture Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 11, 2021 | In The Catholic Culture Podcast

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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”.

Topics include:

  • 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

Jessica Hooten Wilson

JHW, Reading Walker Percy’s Novels

JHW, Walker Percy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the Search for Influence

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Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus. Download the Catholic Culture Podcast soundtrack.

Thomas V. Mirus is Director of Podcasts for, hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast, and co-hosts Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. See full bio.

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