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3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  2,102 Ratings  ·  132 Reviews
" A modern knight-errant on a quest after evil . . . Convincing and chilling." The New York Times Book Review
Lancelot Andrewes Lamar, a disenchanted liberal lawyer, finds himself confined in a " nuthouse" with memories that don't seem worth remembering until a visit from an old friend and classmate gives him the opportunity to recount his journey of dark violence. It began
Mass Market Paperback, 241 pages
Published May 29th 1989 by Ivy Books,U.S. (first published 1977)
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(showing 1-30)
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Amanda L
Understated yet altogether profound. Lancelot's story is retold entirely within his disturbed mind from a single room in an institution with but one window through which he can glimpse a fragment of his past life. The writing is absolutely beautiful and not the least pretentious. The retelling of his past will make you feel uneasy but oddly will make you laugh along the way. Confronts racial issues marked by the era with uncanny deliberateness and marital/ familial strife as the main character d ...more
Jul 07, 2008 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, lost-lit
Read this one for Sawyers Book Club on myspace, and becuase it is on the Lost Lit List....

I like the format... narrator speaks to reader as tho they are part of the story (one sided conversation).

I did not like all the lost trains of thought. The narrator would lead you towards an answer, or explanation and then veer off for pages and pages, almost seeming to have lost his orginal point.

I did not like the ending at all. Perhaps my copy is missing the last few pages?? (sadly, i know this is not
Stephen Gallup
Aug 07, 2009 Stephen Gallup rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The structure of this novel reminds me of the movie Amadeus. There's no one here analogous to Mozart, but nevertheless a crime has been committed, and (like Salieri in the film) the man who felt driven to do it is now sorting out the meaning of it all while addressing a silent priest-like figure.

As such, this becomes a meditation on good and evil, on what matters and what does not, and it covers material that Percy handles in his other novels: Essentially, a character awakens to find himself in
Aug 05, 2010 Brett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Percy continues diagnosing the "modern malaise" here through the eyes of a man that snapped out of his malaise through a single event. The man, now institutionalized, recounts the events of that lead to where he is, as he also rants and raves about the status of his life before and what the future holds.

There are points where Percy's own views come through the speaker in the story, but there are also points where the speaker just raves lunacy (the break between Percy's own vi
May 25, 2008 Mikem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
De-centering and dyspeptic, this Percy bit gets at the heart of the nihilism that has seduced some quarters of contemporary thought. The chivalric instincts of a would-be Knight of Faith is tossed into the mix of seventies soft-porn manners....mannners cultivated and then subverted by all that Southern stuff.
carl  theaker

The spiritual slumber, that seems to be the condition of the
late 20th century, is caused by the transition from spirituality to technology.

We get our sustenance from technology as opposed to 'the land'
where we would feel a closer spiritual connection.
Previously that was the only choice, the land, God , there were not many
alternatives or time to think of alternatives, as work & survival was a full time job.
Now we have a relatively new notion of free time and science
has led us to believe that
Jan 07, 2015 Stephane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Catcher in the Rye for adults
Puna Baris
Jun 09, 2016 Puna Baris rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: turkce
Acikcasi daha once Walker Percy'nin adini duymamistim. Bu nasil olabildi onu da bilmiyorum ama onemli bir cagdas Amerikan yazari oldugunu da bilmiyordum. Bu sucluluk duygusundan dolayi da duyarak okumak istedim :)
Kitabin adindan dolayi, su Yuvarlak Masa Sovalyeleri, Kral Arthur ve Guinevere cagrisimi haliyle epey yuksek. Zaten bir zina (!) hikayesi islendigi icin kahramana Lancelot adi bilerek verilmis. Fakat ben bunu biraz zevksiz, biraz zorlama. biraz da kendini-fazla-ciddiye almak olarak alg
Aug 27, 2010 Silver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unexpected-gems
A quirky and very unique and original book which grabs the readers attention right away. It is written in a great style that is easy to read, and full of intrigue, while being told in a tone of ironical humor. It offers a reflective look, from an interesting persepctive on what has become of our modern society, with a nostalgia for the values of the old where things made more sense.

A modern day rendition of the legend of Lancelot and the search for the Holy Grail, set somewhere between the 60s-
Lance Kinzer
Apr 16, 2015 Lance Kinzer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First a note of caution - this book is very explicit in its language and subject matter and may understandably be too much for some in that regard. Coming on the heels of Love in The Ruins this book approaches similar issues from a completely different angle. The plot unfolds quietly and ominously, all the while exploring how the protagonists inability to find meaning in the ordinary occurrences of life leads to a quest to find meaning in negation. Lancelot is disgusted by the tawdriness of tepi ...more
Jacob Stubbs
Dec 22, 2012 Jacob Stubbs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
So, once again, Walker Percy delivers on an extremely dark, rather funny portrayal of the banality of modern culture. The style of this book was different from other books, as it is a series of reflections told from the protagonist to the reader from his prison cell. While some people (I think the NYT review complained of this) think that the reflections ramble off of the narrative, I think they serve the greater purpose of the book.

Overall, a dark, depressing, humourous (but maybe shouldn't be)
Paul Dinger
Jan 20, 2009 Paul Dinger rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was self indulgent. The problem with a lot of first person narratives is that the narration becomes about the person and whatever story you may want to read gets lost. I was looking forward to reading this book and was disappointed. I got to page sixty and had that lost feeling like I didn't know what was happening. I am not someone who expects a book to grab you, but when you are uninvolved by a third of the way, you probably won't be.
Jul 02, 2007 Audrey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1914-present
Lancelot has interesting moments. Certainly the character portrait is very interesting. However, I found other aspects of it (such as a constant stream of hints that the modern world is hopelessly degenerate) tiresome. It would be good for people who are interested in looking at the idea of evil and Hell from the Christian standpoint. I won't say it's a bad book, because it isn't. For some reason that I can't explain, it rubbed me the wrong way.
Natalie Moore Goodison
I just loved it. I couldn't put it down. It's a Southern as you can come, with gritty one-liners that don't happen once-a-chapter, but once-a-page, once-a-paragraph. It's about sex. Mostly sex, but also of love (what is it) and sin (a quest for it) and front porches and Southern aristocracy, and if you're very careful, even a waft of Lancelot and Perceval. The first-person narrative simply sweeps away. Recommended. [If the c-word offends you, then perhaps re-consider this book.]
Aug 08, 2010 Meredith rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sort of a silly POV.... flawed and unconvincing, I thought. And a bit hackneyed, honestly... but still, people recalling their "story" in the past-tense from a mental institution = easy storytelling set-up.

I did have a serious sense of dread throughout the story, however; I was genuinely excited, flipping pages, to see the climax. It was *almost* worth it.

Sam Carr
brilliant. best novelist ever to live. particularly interested with Percy's interest in dealing with characters in the middle of existential crises. I very much liked how the character in this book believes the only way to start over and save humanity by moving from the Mississippi Valley to a farmhouse in the Shenandoah Valley
Oct 04, 2008 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My review of this book might change in the next few days. I read it, I love it, but unfortunately, the last line blew up my entire understanding of the story.
So, it's fantastic in the usual painful, song of songs sort of way that Walker Percy liked to write. But I'm trying to find someone to explain the dern thing to me.
Apr 29, 2011 Megan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting story line and critique of the 60's free love philosophy. Not a fan of the ending that really wasn't an ending. Overall, glad I can say I read it but not one that I would recommend to anyone for an enjoyable read.
Apr 06, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a book about adultery, murder, insanity, and arson you wouldn't expect to laugh as much as I did reading Walker Percy's Lancelot. The book is wonderfully narrated and an interesting commentary on modern life.
Oct 26, 2016 Drew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"In my confessional I fell to musing. Why does love require the absolute polarities of divinity-obscenity? I was right about love: it is absolute and therefore beyond all categories. Who else but God arranged that love should pitch its tent on the place of excrement? Why not then curse and call on God in an act of love?"
Oct 04, 2016 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dad-s-books
This book is really hard to review. The writing is superb - it's Walker Percy - and my copy was my Dad's. But like all Walker Percy it's complex. I certainly hope he was being critical of the race and gender issues he described so vividly in this book. I also know I missed a lot of the depth of the parallels he was drawing between King Arthur mythology and the main character Lancelot, his silent interlocutor Percival, and his wife's lover Merlin.

Lancelot is crazy and broken down, living in a psy
Dan Honeywell
In a lot of ways this book is genius and full of commentary on how we live our lives but not enough happens to make it a fulfilling read. The ending could've been more creative, more forceful, maybe with a twist.
southern Edgar Allan Poe meets 1960s psychology
Aug 06, 2016 Kenneth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
A peculiar later novel of Walker Percy. Similar to his earlier material in some ways. Driven by darker character themes.

The novel starts off much like Percy’s other novels with a slightly different form. The first person narration recounts events in retrospect from the perspective of an institutionalized man (Lancelot) talking to a childhood friend who is a priest/psychiatrist.

Lancelot, the protagonist, informally confesses to the priest/friend an involved story that ends in discovering his wif
Oct 14, 2011 Leif rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
**Update: I finished this for the second time, and loved it even more this time around. In some ways, this is Percy's most forthright novel, with the protagonist/narrator acting on things his other novel's characters contemplate and/or obsess on but rarely do. And so many good lines in here! Here's an example:

"What could be finer than to be a grown healthy man and to meet a fine-looking woman you've never seen before and want her on the spot and to see also that she likes you, to invite her to h
Jude Morrissey
Jul 17, 2012 Jude Morrissey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: serious-stuff
Percy, Walker. Lancelot. New York : Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1977.

Walker Percy, a Southern writer with a particular interest in fiction as a conduit for philosophical and existentialist reflection, wrote a number of novels, the first of which - The Moviegoer - won the National Book Award in fiction. In Lancelot, Percy relates the story of a liberal New Orleans lawyer, Lancelot Andrewes Lamar, who finds himself reluctantly remembering events that led him to his current incarceration in the Insti
Apparently this is Percy's attempt to express the damages of the sexual revolution and his frustration at modern complacency to evil. However, most of the book just seems to wallow in the very things it tries to expose.

My professor assured us that, while the book is disturbing, the preface from Dante's Purgatorio shows that the point is to seek salvation, not to dwell in the derangement. That's a solid enough aim, but I don't think the book succeeds. The narrating protagonist is such a mix of l
Quick read. Southern male, Lancelot, either in jail or a mental institution thinking back over something he may have done. Faithful depiction of his interrelations with some black people may not be politically correct by today's standards but they are not outrageously offensive, just descriptive of the time. Literary sites warble on about the symbolism of the name Lancelot and the quest for the grail. This was of little interest to me and did not overwhelm the story. I consider it a weakness in ...more
Matt Simmons
Jan 06, 2013 Matt Simmons rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Less of a novel, and more of a jeremiad, and a jeremiad more true now, 35 years after Percy penned it, than it was originally. While its main thrust is the problematics of a culture whose sine qua non is pleasure, it is also a fascinating investigation of how we create identities for others (and how we, in turn, willingly and cheerfully embrace those identities created for us as a part of our obsession with the various forms of pleasure), with how history functions in our lives, with how we misu ...more
Margaret Kerry
Jul 04, 2014 Margaret Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I marked this as "want to read" because I always want to read Walker Percy's books. He is my favorite author because he is locating the malaise in our world through fiction. There are two ways to read Percy. One is to sit with the text in a kind of "lectio divina" meditation on the sentences. Another is to read the book once through and then read it again thoughtfully. I find that when I do either of these I come out on the other side lighter and feeling understood by a person who has been at th ...more
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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 t ...more
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“Have you noticed that the narrower the view the more you can see? For the first time I understand how old ladies can sit on their porches for years.” 5 likes
“Yes, interest! The worm of interest. Are you surprised? No? Yes? One conclusion I have reached here after a year in my cell is that the only emotion people feel nowadays is interest or the lack of it. Curiosity and interest and boredom have replaced the so-called emotions we used to read about in novels or see registered on actors' faces. Even the horrors of the age translate into interest. Did you ever watch anybody pick up a newspaper and read the headline PLANE CRASH KILLS THREE HUNDRED? How horrible! says the reader. But look at him when he hands you the paper. Is he horrified? No, he is interested. When is the last time you saw anybody horrified?” 5 likes
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