Walker Percy

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Walker Percy (1916-1960) was an American author. His works include The Moviegoer (1961), The Last Gentleman (1966) Love in the Ruins (1971), and The Thanatos Syndrome (1987). He won a National Book Award for The Moviegoer.[1]

Life and works

Percy was born May 28, 1916, in Birmingham, Alabama.[2] He was part of a prominent family; his father was a lawyer and he was able to attend Birmingham University School (now Altamont School).[3] When Percy was thirteen, his father shot himself; two years later, his mother drove off a bridge; and so he was raised by his father's cousin in Greenville, Mississippi, where he developed a love for books (including his adoptive father's Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of a Planter’s Son).[4] He enrolled in the University on North Carolina in 1934, studying chemistry, and in 1941 received a medical degree from Columbia University.[5]

At North Carolina University, he met a boy named Shelby Foote who disagreed with them on the issue of segregation - Percy was in favor; Foote was not. Foote moderated him, but Foote's literary abilities discouraged his writing and he did not produce any notable fiction novels until The Moviegoer (1961).[6] He had written some philosophy texts, which established him as a Roman Catholic existentialists and introduced the concept of Malaise, despair in a rootless, modern, liberal world, as was apparent in his later works: The Last Gentleman (1966), Love in the Ruins: The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time near the End of the World (1971, a comedic science fiction novel), Lancelot (1977), an allegory of the tale King Arthur told by a wife-murderer in a mental facility; The Second Coming (1980); and The Thanatos Syndrome (1987).[7] His The Thanatos Syndrome, the story of a man imprisoned for selling drugs to truck drivers who attempts to contaminate a water supply, is an excellent warning of the dangers of a world of liberal doctrines.[8]

Percy contracted tuberculosis while at medical school in the 1940s, and died May 10, 1990.

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