Walker Percy’s Voices

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Walker Percy’s novels are fraught with characters struggling toward a destiny and purpose in life who must sort through conflicting inner voices and the voices of family, friends, therapists, and mentors until they finally find their own paths. Through trial, error, and retrial, Percy’s characters continuously reinvent themselves, struggling until they reach solutions, satisfaction, and maturity. In this multifaceted work, Michael Kobre analyzes Walker Percy’s major fiction works–The Moviegoer, The Last Gentleman, Love in the Ruins, Lancelot, The Second Coming, and The Thanatos Syndrome–in terms of the Russian philosopher and literary scholar Mikhail Bakhtin’s critical theory. Kobre begins with an introduction to Percy’s view of language and consciousness and a clear, accessible explanation of Bakhtin’s ideas. His subsequent discussion of the novels connects each work in turn with Percy’s advancing career and explores the deepening conflict in Percy’s fiction between his desire to express his own religious and moral beliefs and his commitment to the essential freedom of his art–the play of many voices in his narratives.

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