THE APOCALYPTIC VISION IN THE FICTION OF WALKER PERCY (LOUISIANA, SOUTHERN, RELIGION, TWENTIETH-CENTURY)

GARY MARTIN CIUBA, Fordham University

Abstract

The novels of Walker Percy comprise books of revelations, His protagonists begin as seers, usually in a quite physical fashion. By suddenly performing an act of attention to the moment at hand, they experience an apocalyptic unveiling of mysteries and disclosure of secrets. As the world and time come back to these seers, they come to themselves and recover consciousness. In Percy's demythologized and partially realized version of apocalyptic eschatology, this instant of sight and insight signifies the imminent end of their old order. No longer objectified or abstracted, his visionaries gain a new cosmos through their new way of seeing.^ Percy may individualize the apocalypse, but he does not neglect its social dimension. While his protagonists seek clearer and more complete vision throughout the course of the novel, they pronounce judgment on an entire age for being lost in the cosmos. As a result, Percy's eschatological prophets foresee approaching doom. Their challenge is to find a new order amid the ruins of the world and of their own life. The revelation of love, the logos of Percy's fiction, provides the context in which his apocalyptists may finally discover their identity and perhaps come to God.^ Awareness of the divine end of the world grants these seers their own tentative visions of the Second Coming. Beginning with an end and ending with a beginning, Percy's novels progress from catastrophe to the possibility of a new creation. But the last pages of his fiction always promise that there is more yet to be seen. The deliberately open-ended conclusions enact the watching and waiting essential to hope in the God whose last day is always now and alway coming. This resolution with its gaze toward the future marks the true beginning of the book in the life of the reader, for Percy envisions his novels as apocalypses themselves. His fictions of the eschaton find their end in the reader's revelation. ^

Subject Area

Literature, American

Recommended Citation

GARY MARTIN CIUBA, "THE APOCALYPTIC VISION IN THE FICTION OF WALKER PERCY (LOUISIANA, SOUTHERN, RELIGION, TWENTIETH-CENTURY)" (January 1, 1986). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI8615693.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8615693

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