Walker Percy stands in the literary tradition of T. S. Eliot and Flannery O’Connor.
The name Walker Percy is unfamiliar to most evangelicals. It is only a little better known among secular scholars. And yet, among those who do know the novels and essays of Walker Percy, he is highly appreciated. He is one of the few Christian writers who can hold the attention of a large secular audience.
Percy should interest evangelicals, for he stands in the Christian-literary tradition of T. S. Eliot and Flannery O’Connor. All three have exposed the sterility of modern secular life and recommended as an alternative the Christian gospel. Further, all three are insightful essayists; taken collectively, their essays make an enlightening commentary on the study of Christianity and literature.
Percy’s first publications were scholarly articles on the philosophy of language, the rootlessness of contemporary life, and the source of racism. Two novels were rejected before he found his natural style in The Moviegoer (1961), winner of the National Book Award in 1962. More followed: The Last Gentleman (1965), Love in the Ruins (1971), The Message in the Bottle (1975, essays), Lancelot (1977), and The Second Coming (1980).
Percy’s commitment to writing and to Christ is a fascinating study. Like C. S. Lewis, Percy went through a long, intellectual struggle with secularism before he became a Christian. Born in 1916 in Birmingham, Alabama, his youth was marred try his father’s suicide when he was 11 and by his mother’s death in an auto accident two years later. He and his two younger brothers were raised by their paternal cousin, Uncle Will Percy, author, friend of Faulkner, lawyer, planter, and civic leader. He guided his youthful cousins with the diligence ...1
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