Walker Percy





Walker Percy

Author profile


born
in Birmingham, Alabama, The United States
May 28, 1916

died
May 10, 1990

gender
male

website

genre


About this author

Walker Percy (1916–1990) was one of the most prominent American writers of the twentieth century. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, he was the oldest of three brothers in an established Southern family that contained both a Civil War hero and a US senator. Acclaimed for his poetic style and moving depictions of the alienation of modern American culture, Percy was the bestselling author of six fiction titles—including the classic novel The Moviegoer (1961), winner of the National Book Award—and fifteen works of nonfiction. In 2005, Time magazine named The Moviegoer one of the best English-language books published since 1923.


Average rating: 3.85 · 141,479 ratings · 9,946 reviews · 25 distinct works · Similar authors
The Moviegoer
3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 13,105 ratings — published 1960 — 48 editions
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Love in the Ruins
3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 1,837 ratings — published 1971 — 18 editions
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Lancelot
3.73 of 5 stars 3.73 avg rating — 1,546 ratings — published 1977 — 14 editions
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The Last Gentleman
3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 1,318 ratings — published 1966 — 19 editions
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The Second Coming
3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 1,288 ratings — published 1980 — 20 editions
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Lost in the Cosmos: The Las...
4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 1,233 ratings — published 1983 — 17 editions
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The Thanatos Syndrome
3.57 of 5 stars 3.57 avg rating — 1,123 ratings — published 1987 — 21 editions
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The Message in the Bottle: ...
4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 378 ratings — published 1975 — 8 editions
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Signposts in a Strange Land...
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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 345 ratings — published 1991 — 8 editions
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Conversations with Walker P...
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 108 ratings — published 1985 — 2 editions
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More books by Walker Percy…
“You can get all A's and still flunk life.”
Walker Percy, The Second Coming
tags: life

“Why did God make women so beautiful and man with such a loving heart?”
Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins

“The peculiar predicament of the present-day self surely came to pass as a consequence of the disappointment of the high expectations of the self as it entered the age of science and technology. Dazzled by the overwhelming credentials of science, the beauty and elegance of the scientific method, the triumph of modern medicine over physical ailments, and the technological transformation of the very world itself, the self finds itself in the end disappointed by the failure of science and technique in those very sectors of life which had been its main source of ordinary satisfaction in past ages.

As John Cheever said, the main emotion of the adult Northeastern American who has had all the advantages of wealth, education, and culture is disappointment.

Work is disappointing. In spite of all the talk about making work more creative and self-fulfilling, most people hate their jobs, and with good reason. Most work in modern technological societies is intolerably dull and repetitive.

Marriage and family life are disappointing. Even among defenders of traditional family values, e.g., Christians and Jews, a certain dreariness must be inferred, if only from the average time of TV viewing. Dreary as TV is, it is evidently not as dreary as Mom talking to Dad or the kids talking to either.

School is disappointing. If science is exciting and art is exhilarating, the schools and universities have achieved the not inconsiderable feat of rendering both dull. As every scientist and poet knows, one discovers both vocations in spite of, not because of, school. It takes years to recover from the stupor of being taught Shakespeare in English Lit and Wheatstone's bridge in Physics.

Politics is disappointing. Most young people turn their backs on politics, not because of the lack of excitement of politics as it is practiced, but because of the shallowness, venality, and image-making as these are perceived through the media--one of the technology's greatest achievements.

The churches are disappointing, even for most believers. If Christ brings us new life, it is all the more remarkable that the church, the bearer of this good news, should be among the most dispirited institutions of the age. The alternatives to the institutional churches are even more grossly disappointing, from TV evangelists with their blown-dry hairdos to California cults led by prosperous gurus ignored in India but embraced in La Jolla.

Social life is disappointing. The very franticness of attempts to reestablish community and festival, by partying, by groups, by club, by touristy Mardi Gras, is the best evidence of the loss of true community and festival and of the loneliness of self, stranded as it is as an unspeakable consciousness in a world from which it perceives itself as somehow estranged, stranded even within its own body, with which it sees no clear connection.

But there remains the one unquestioned benefit of science: the longer and healthier life made possible by modern medicine, the shorter work-hours made possible by technology, hence what is perceived as the one certain reward of dreary life of home and the marketplace: recreation.

Recreation and good physical health appear to be the only ambivalent benefits of the technological revolution.”
Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book

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