Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thomas Merton on Walker Percy

A racy, psychedelic 1960's - '70s paperback cover of Walker Percy's second novel The Last Gentleman and the most famous Trappist monk in the world, Thomas Merton, a.k.a. Father Louis.

Volume 21 of The Merton Annual from the INTERNATIONAL THOMAS MERTON SOCIETY arrived in the mail on Saturday. There were apparently three papers presented at this year's society meeting on the intersection of the thought of Thomas Merton and the novels of Walker Percy.

Here is an excerpt from a letter dated May 22, 1966 from Thomas Merton to his editor Bob Giroux regarding Merton's thoughts on Percy's second novel, The Last Gentleman:

Walker Percy is one of the few novelists whose books I am able to finish. This is in fact a haunting, disturbing, funny and fantastic anti-novel structered like a long dream and relentlessly insisting that most of reality is unconscious. It ends up being one of the most intelligent and sophisticated statements about the South and about America, but one which too many people will probably find so baffling that they will not know what to make of it. Even then, if they persist in reading it, they cannot help being affected by this profoundly wacky wisdom of the book. Precisely because of the wackiness I would call it one of the sanest books I have read in a long time.

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