[percy-l] A New Member and a Question

Marc Porter MPorter at fslegal.com
Thu Oct 8 17:17:33 EDT 2015

I would agree that Percy as a staunch Catholic believed all that the Church taught in regard to faith and morals and would have followed the social teaching of the Church as it pertained to the dignity of the human person.  He would of recognized himself as  a sinner in need of Grace to live out the demands of that teaching.   He definitely was against racism and any “phony piety”.
Thanks for all the great comments and incites.

Marc S. Porter
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From: Percy-L [mailto:percy-l-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of janetcantor37--- via Percy-L
Sent: Thursday, October 08, 2015 10:03 AM
To: Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion
Cc: janetcantor37 at yahoo.com
Subject: Re: [percy-l] A New Member and a Question

It is ironic that Percy usually identified himself as liberal to my knowledge. He was decidedly pro life. But his activities in support of civil rights were brave in the south, I think. He hated the phony piety of big churches from the establishment. Am I wrong in my perceptions here?
Janet Cantor

From: Michael Kobre <kobrem at queens.edu<mailto:kobrem at queens.edu>>
To: Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion <percy-l at lists.ibiblio.org<mailto:percy-l at lists.ibiblio.org>>
Sent: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 1:41 PM
Subject: Re: [percy-l] A New Member and a Question

Thanks to everyone for your words of welcome and your responses to my questions.  Just being able to participate in this dialogue has helped me think about these issues.  For what it’s worth—and building from observations by Rachel and Rhonda—I think that one reason why we all seem to perceive a lessening of interest in Percy stems from changes in the academic world.  Literary works live on, in a significant measure, because they’re included as assigned readings on syllabi, and this is reflected, I think, in the changing reputations of Yates’ and Percy’s work.

Yates now has a comfortable place on syllabi in creative writing programs.  I’ve seen evidence of this over and over again in my work co-directing an MFA program for the last 15 years.  Yates, who had a long career of his own as a creative writing professor, is held forth—rightly—as a model of craft.  We might say of him, in comparison to Percy, that he is indeed “the better craftsman.”  Where Percy struggled to respond to Stanley Kauffmann’s repeated requests to work on the structure of The Moviegoer, Yates was a master of structure—and well-constructed scenes, manipulation of point of view, carefully selected details, etc.: in short, the very fundamentals of fiction-writing technique that creative writing students must master.

But, by contrast, the sly, nuanced, shifting voice of Binx’s narration in The Moviegoer is largely inimitable.  And if Percy appears only occasionally in creative writing classes, he’s also proven to be—at least in our current context—a harder figure to recover in literary studies, partly because  his demographic profile (a white, male southerner who’s self-consciously descended from an elite class) and of his politics (sort of, kind of right-of-center).

What does this say about the qualities of each work?  I don’t think it diminishes either, but it also perhaps leads to questions about what we look for in great novels.  To use Flannery O’Connor’s terms, Yates is a novelist of manners and Percy of mystery.

At least that’s my theory today.  Anyway, thanks for listening to these ideas in progress and helping me to think about them.  Now if I can only find the time to actually write that damn essay . . .

Michael Kobre

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