The Catholic Culture Podcast: 112 – Walker Percy’s Angelic-Bestial Future

Aug 11, 2021

“Now in these dread latter days of the old violent beloved
U.S.A. and of the Christ-forgetting Christ-haunted death-dealing
Western world I came to myself in a grove of young pines and the
question came to me: has it happened at last?”

So wonders Dr. Tom More, a descendant of the great English
martyr, in the first sentence of Walker Percy’s third novel,
Love in the Ruins: The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at Time
near the End of the World

Written in 1971, this prophetic work presents a world
startlingly like our own. Today’s guest, literary scholar Jessica
Hooten Wilson, joins the show to give a general introduction to
Percy and discuss aspects of what is for many his most beloved
novel, Love in the Ruins, which she describes as a
“panoramic satire” indicating that modernity’s “lost sense of self
makes it impossible to live the good life”.

Topics include:

  • How Percy’s Southernity informed his fiction
  • His keen and ruthless observation of race relations
  • His recurring commentary on the modern disjunction between mind
    and body, what protagonist Tom More calls oscillation between the
    angelic and the bestial
  • His use of apocalyptic themes
  • His treatment of love between men and women
  • The lasting significance of his work


Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins

Jessica Hooten Wilson

JHW, Reading Walker Percy’s Novels

JHW, Walker Percy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the Search for

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