Skip to Content.
Sympa Menu

percy-l - [percy-l] NEW BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: "Symbol and Existence - A Study in Meaning" (Walker Percy); Mercer UP, October 2019

percy-l AT

Subject: Percy-L: Literary, Religious, Scientific, and Philosophical Discussion on Walker Percy

List archive

Chronological Thread  
  • From: "Henry P. Mills" <wppdirector AT>
  • To: Percy-L <percy-l AT>
  • Subject: [percy-l] NEW BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: "Symbol and Existence - A Study in Meaning" (Walker Percy); Mercer UP, October 2019
  • Date: Fri, 12 Jul 2019 18:42:18 -0400

Dear Percy-L:

Below you will find the catalog description of Symbol and Existence - A Study in Meaning as forthcoming from Mercer University Press in October 2019 as earlier mentioned on the list. 

For slightly more elaboration, Symbol and Existence is a complete, systematic book that Percy wrote in the 1950s yet was not published once he began focusing his talents on becoming a fiction writer following the successes of The Moviegoer.  In the words of Ken Ketner, one of its editors, "[e]ven until the moment of the Jefferson Lecture, Percy stayed on the elaborated theoretical position he developed systematically in Symbol and Existence." In essence, then, the book lays bare the intricate, interdisciplinary theoretical system underpinning Percy’s writings and novels.  

We should all be indebted to the editors -- three of whom are members of the Percy-L community -- for their diligent efforts and for bringing to light this new and original Percy work from the Percy archives at UNC-Chapel Hill. Thank you Ken, Karey, and Rhonda; (and Scott)!


Henry Mills
Percy-L Administrator

Symbol and Existence – A Study in Meaning: Explorations of Human Nature
By Walker Percy
Edited by Kenneth Laine Ketner, Karey Lea Perkins, Rhonda Renee' McDonnell, and Scott Ross Cunningham
Mercer University Press, October 2019 (Pre-orders available)


--The only known systematic representation of Walker Percy's general working theory and diverse intellectual background

Symbol and Existence will prove fascinating to Walker Percy scholars and fans who wish to decipher Percy's authentic philosophical stance. Percy, an existentialist Catholic at his core, was also a scientist seeking an objective paradigm to portray his views. Symbol and Existence demonstrates that Percy was quite methodical and logical in his thought and provides an entirely new perspective on his scholarship. Much of this book is unique and has never been published before; however, some sections were revised and published as isolated journal articles or book chapters, never presented as the unified whole that Percy intended. The orderly unity of Percy's work has not previously been accessible to scholars and fans.

Symbol and Existence's systematic presentation and its new material offer fresh insight and a more accurate view of Percy's ideas. His early philosophical writings were often revised and significantly modified by outside editorial intent to conform to prevailing intellectual currents of the time. Readers of some published articles with corresponding passages in Symbol and Existence will be surprised to discover major changes in meaning from Percy's initial writing due to editorial intrusion and loss of context upon their removal from Symbol and Existence.

As the only known systematic representation of Percy's general working theory, Symbol and Existence gives an important framework for his diverse intellectual background--philosophy and psychology, medicine and anthropology, semiotic and zoology--creating a coherent view of Percy's "radical anthropology."


American author Walker Percy (1916–1990) was one of the most prominent Southern writers of the twentieth century. Known for his poetic style and depiction of alienation in modern American culture, Percy was the bestselling author of six fiction titles, including the classic novel The Moviegoer (winner of the 1962 National Book Award), and three works of nonfiction. Educated at the University of North Carolina and the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, he was a charter member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.


Kenneth Laine Ketner is P.W. Horn Professor and director of the Institute for Studies in Pragmaticism at Texas Tech University. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Oklahoma State University, an MA in Folklore and Mythology from the University of California at Los Angeles and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Karey Lea Perkins has taught literature, writing, and philosophy for over thirty years. She holds a BA in English and a BA in Religion from Wake Forest University, an MA in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an MA in Philosophy and a PhD in English from Georgia State University.

Rhonda Renee' McDonnell is a professor of American Literature and Composition at Northern Virginia Community College. She holds a PhD in American Literature from Arizona State University.

Scott Ross Cunningham is assistant director for Research Operations at The Institute for Studies in Pragmaticism at Texas Tech University. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Texas Tech University and is ABD in Educational Psychology at Texas Tech University.


6 x 9 | 240 pp.
Hardback $29.00 | 978-0-88146-708-6 | H975 
Bibliography | Index | Illustrations

  • [percy-l] NEW BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: "Symbol and Existence - A Study in Meaning" (Walker Percy); Mercer UP, October 2019, Henry P. Mills, 07/12/2019

Archive powered by MHonArc 2.6.24.

Top of Page