[percy-l] /LITR

dabeck at iupui.edu dabeck at iupui.edu
Sun Sep 25 19:45:04 EDT 2005

I strongly agree with Larry's recommendation of Elliott's book as a companion 
to LITR, especially the chapter, "Three Ways of Feeling Homesick." While it is 
hard for me to pick a favorite Percy book, if I had to choose I would probably 
pick LITR; perhaps because it was the first Percy book I read. 
 As an undergraduate, I took a senior-level course on Religion and American 
Culture. On the first day of class, as a way of an intro, the prof, Tony 
Sherrill (who later was on my grad committee when I wrote my thesis on Percy), 
read the beginning of LITR, the roller coaster metaphor for America. I was 
hooked. I went out and bought the book and kept reading until I had finished 
everything Percy had published (at that time). (BTW, before his untimely 
death, Dr. Sherrill wrote a really good book entitled, Road-Book America: 
Contemporary Culture and the New Picaresque (University of Illinois Press, 
2000). In the book he spends several pages on Percy, especially in the 
chapter, "Picaro's Recovery of the Sovereing Self." (A shameless plug for a 
good book and a good, but deceased friend.)
 I taught LITR several years ago in a freshman lit class. It went over pretty 
well, but several of the students commented on its "60-ish" feel. I think they 
were right, but somehow it seems very timely in 2005 (supported by some of the 
political discussions on this list).
 I'm looking forward to our discussion.
Quoting Lawrence Rhu <rhul at gwm.sc.edu>:

> Dear All,
> I have been rereading LITR with great pleasure.  On the matter of the center
> not holding, I am reminded how Binx used to enjoy going to the library and
> reading political journals.  The animosity expressed toward opponents by
> pundits on different sides struck him as a rare sign of life in an otherwise
> haunted, if not simply dead, populace, zombies going through the motions of
> life.
> I think this has a lot to do with the passion and dismay that we have often
> been exposed to in exchanges on the list of late.  ( I am a newcomer so I
> have no idea what it has been like before I started listening in in August.)
> I also think these mixed feelings raise very interesting issues about the
> limits of different kinds of discourse.  Emerson's struggle with the
> Aboliltionists, whom he joined with some reluctance (and regular qualms)
> before the War between the States, is an example of this sort of dilemma that
> has recently mattered to me.  If you believe that philosophy can bring peace,
> polemics, of course, narrow the possibilities; but without candor, we would
> have a kind of desolation of thought and of feeling that it would be a lie to
> call peace.
> How are other people doing with the novel?  I always loved the first two
> novels the most, especially the second.  Percy's initial success seemed to
> emboldem him to greater feats of candor and a willingness to risk his own
> vulnerability (even in a third person narrative).  LITR previously struck me
> as an angry book (one of my friends calls it more viscerally engaged, a good
> point that usefully turns my feeling back on me) symptomatic of a country
> losing its capacity for public trust and civil conversation.  It still does
> strike me that way, but it makes me laugh so often and strikes me now as
> using passionate conviction in a most generous and compelling way .  Should I
> also sadly add "prophetic"?
> It's good to reread Yeats and know the recipe for Ramos gin fizzes.  Reading
> Peter Kramer, as I have been doing for the first time, also makes LITR more
> interesting and me more conversible.  I thank Cal Elliott for this and
> recommend his chapter, "Three Ways of Feeling Homesick," in Better Than Well
> as a good companion piece for reading LITR from perspectives that interest me
> such as bioethics and ideas of good and evil.
> Larry
> Lawrence F. Rhu
> Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature
> University of South Carolina
> Columbia, SC  29208
> Tel:  803 777 0144
> Fax:  803 777 9064
> Email:  rhul at sc.edu
> >>> MorrisJD at aol.com 09/25/05 1:45 PM >>>
> Chuck Lowry
> Brooklyn, New York
> wrote:
> And we were doing so well with starting up the LITR group...
> Isn't  this the sort of thing, from either side, that we were going to try to
>  avoid?  That is not to say that these are unimportant questions or unworthy 
> of examination, but wasn't the consensus "not here"? 
> I've been watching this discussion closely since it began, and I don't  
> recall a "consensus" of any sort emerging. I do recall the list master 
> attempting 
> to avoid further discussion of NOLA, but both left and right group  members 
> dissented from that effort.  I think Nikki deserves to be heard,  and if
> someone 
> doesn't like it, don't read it.
> Meanwhile, what on earth does the LTR group on LITR have to do with the  NOLA
> discussion thread?
> --
> An archive of all list discussion is available at
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/percy-l/
> Visit the Walker Percy Project at http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy

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