[percy-l] Unearthed: Walker Percy’s Fan Letter to Bruce Springsteen
janetcantor37 at yahoo.com
janetcantor37 at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 25 12:06:13 EDT 2013
Thank you so much for unearthing this. I will read it more carefully tomorrow. What a find.
On Friday, October 25, 2013 9:45 AM, Jim Forest <jhforest at gmail.com> wrote:
Unearthed: Walker Percy’s Fan Letter to Bruce Springsteen
1/22/2009 2:29:47 PM
by Jeff Severns Guntzel
Tags: Spirituality, Bruce Springsteen, Walker Percy, Flannery O'Connor, Catholicism, Correspondence, DoubleTake
Buried in the Utne Reader library is nearly every issue of the sorely
missed DoubleTake magazine. That’s where I stumbled across this letter
from Walker Percy to Bruce Springsteen in 1989. When Springsteen finally responded, in 1993, it was to Percy’s widow. It’s a charming and intriguing correspondence
that touches on the Catholicism and work of both men. DoubleTake ran the letters with a discussion between Springsteen and Percy’s nephew Will.
Here’s the exchange of letters:
Feb 23, 1989
Dear Mr. Springsteen—
This is a fan letter—of sorts. I’ve always been an admirer of yours, for
your musicianship, and for being one of the few sane guys in your field.
The immediate occasion is that my favorite nephew, Will Percy, has even a higher opinion of you. He is a level-headed perceptive young
lawyer and generally knows what he is talking about.
particular interest is from learning—from an article in America, the
Jesuit weekly—that you are Catholic. If this is true, and I am too, it
would appear that the two of us are rarities in our professions: you as a post-modern musician, I as a writer, a novelist and philosopher.
That—and your admiration for Flannery O’Connor. She was a dear friend of mine, though she was a much more heroic Catholic than I. The whole time I knew her, she was dying of Lupus Erythematosus, a fatal and extremely unpleasant disease. A prime example of her faith: she was participating in a seminar with some modish ex-Catholics like Mary McCarthy. Mary,
thinking to be generous toward the church, said something like: “Well,
it is true, some of the Catholic rituals, like the Eucharist, are good
symbols.” To which Flannery, who hadn’t said a word, responded with a
single sentence: “I say that it it’s only a symbol, to hell with it.”
You will recognize Flannery’s tone.
This is to say only that I am most interested in your spiritual
journey, and if there is any other material about it, I’d be obliged if
you will tell me.
Unfortunately, I have cancer and am taking radiation for it. I am far from well and am not able yet to receive visitors.
Since I don’t know your address I am handing this to Will who says he knows where to send it.
All my best wishes for your superb career.
+ + +
Dear Mrs. Percy,
This is a letter so long in coming I’m almost embarrassed to write, but I’ve gotten to
know Will a little bit and he’s encouraged me on, so here we go.
A few years back when I received Dr. Percy’s letter, I wasn’t very
familiar with his work…my memory is that [his] leter was written on a
yellow legal pad and, as is mine, his handwriting was not the easiest to decipher. It was a passionate letter about the comforts and
difficulties of reconciling the inner life of a sophisticated man, a
writer’s life, with the Catholic faith. I recall Dr. Percy’s explaining
how one had brought depth and meaning to the other for him. He was
curious to know how I handled my issues of faith….
It is now one of my great regrets that we didn’t get to
correspond. A while after receiving Dr. Percy’s letter, I picked up “The Moviegoer,” its toughness and beauty have stayed with me. The loss and
search for faith and meaning have been at the core of my own work for
most of my adult life. I’d like to think that perhaps that is what Dr.
Percy heard and was what moved him to write me. Those issues are still
what motivate me to sit down, pick up my guitar and write. Today, I
would have had a lot to put in that letter….
I hope this letter finds you well and that someday when I’m down
in your neck of the woods or you’re up in mine we can meet. I’d love to
have you come to a show, you might like it!
P.S. I’m in Australia at the moment and I’ve just begun “The Message in the Bottle.”
Read more: http://www.utne.com/mind-and-body/unearthed-walker-percys-fan-letter-to-bruce-springsteen.aspx#ixzz2ieGjOTF5
* * *
All Is Grace: a biography of Dorothy Day:
Saint George and the Dragon
For the Peace from Above:
a Resource Book on War, Peace and Nationalism
Jim's books: www.jimandnancyforest.com/books/
Jim & Nancy web site: www.jimandnancyforest.com
Photo collections: www.flickr.com/photos/jimforest/collections/
On Pilgrimage blog: http://jimandnancyonpilgrimage.blogspot.com/
A Tale of Two Kidneys blog: http://ataleof2kidneys.blogspot.com/
In Communion site: www.incommunion.org
Jim & Nancy Forest
Kanisstraat 5 / 1811 GJ Alkmaar / The Netherlands
* * *
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