Reading list in order...

Karey Perkins karey at
Sun Apr 28 19:12:34 EDT 2002

I first read a couple of Percy's books when I was in college in the
seventies...(and that was about all he'd written then anyway.)  I thought I
understood what he was saying then, theme-wise, and even now in retrospect,
I think that I then understood the major gist of his message fairly
accurately.  But, 25 years later, a college degree, a master's degree, and
much of the doctoral work behind me, and 16 years of teaching literature
behind me as well, I've now read his other works, and re-read the first
ones.  I'm floored by how much is in Percy that I completely missed.  He
speaks on many different levels...a simple enough level that a college
student can appreciate him, but complex enough that years and much studying
later, one finds much more to discover in his works.   Perhaps that is what
all good writers do.  But one of the things (among many) that I've most
noticed with Percy this time around is the amazing number of allusions in
his work -- more so, I think, than your average great writer.   I'm guessing
it was those years of convalescence in the hospital, where he had nothing to
do but read, but what I'm finding is that he is one of the most well-read
writers I've ever read.  This of course probably contributed not only his
multitude of allusions but shaped the complexity of his philosophy.

Also, while I am picking up all of these allusions this time around that I
missed the first time, I'm also guessing I'm probably missing about half of would have to be as well-read as Percy to get them all!!  It is
the secondary sources that will help with thanks for the
reference, James...


-----Original Message-----
From: David Alan Beck [mailto:dabeck at]
Sent: Sunday, April 28, 2002 5:02 PM
To: Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion
Subject: [percy-l] Re: Reading list in order...

Not to overburden you by adding another book to your growing list, but a
good book that I relied on when writing my thesis is Mary Deems Howland's
The Gift of the Other. She explores a much-negelected area in percean
studies: his connection with Gabriel Marcel. Most of the emphasis of
Percy's influences has been on Kierkegaard. But, to me, the Dane is only
half the picture. It seems that Percy relied on Kierkegaard's diagnosis
and Marcel's remedy. (Of course, Percy's ideas cannot be narrowed to two
philosophers, but putting the two together enhances our understanding of
his fiction--in my opinion.)

For what it's worth.

David Beck

"I would feel more optimistic about a bright
future for man if he spent less time proving that
he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness
and respecting her seniority."
                      - E. B. White

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