Walker Percy was one of the few truly philosophical American novelists: he didn’t just have his characters playact out ideas, but had them embody them. Not all of his books hit the mark, but the ones that do are among the best fiction we have that has something valuable and real to say about our world. He’s also a gifted storyteller and stylist; any one of his books are a pleasure to just read for the way he uses language so spellbindingly.
Lancelot stands as one of his best and probably most misunderstood books, a mid-Seventies shotgun blast at American hypocrisy and self-satisfaction. What most people missed the first time around, though, was that Percy was not advocating the madness of the book’s protagonist. He was holding it up to the light like an X-ray film, showing how any insane philosophy, when inflated large enough, can sound almost rational, especially to those (like us) who harbor a germ of unsatisfied resentment. Read more