In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews329 undergirds his entire endeavor. In this respect, I wish Brown had confronted more direcdy and in detail the issue oflanguage itself, what Walker Percy called "the pathology of the twentieth century." His approach is speculative and theoretical on the whole. While several works of literature, architecture, music, and popular culture serve as illustrations, no single work is treated in sufficient detail to make a comprehensive case for the "religious aesthetic." Nevertheless, Brown's clear, well-argued study provides an excellent framework for exploration of this complex subject. Whitman CollegeJohn F. Desmond T1Ae Gift of the Other: Gabriel Marcel's Concept of Intersubjectivity in Walker Percy's Novels, by Mary Deems Howland ; ? & 172 pp. Pittsburg, Pennsylvania: Duquesne University Press, 1990, $29.95. After contracting tuberculosis in 1942 while working as a pathologist, Walker Percy spent a two-year recuperation period reading European novelists and philosophers. Reading Dostoevski led him to the existentialist philosophers, notably Kierkegaard, Sartre, Heidegger, Camus, and Marcel. While Kierkegaard was to prove enormously influential on the novels Percy wrote later, the novelist himself noted that he was bothered by Kierkegaard's iconoclastic individualism and subjectivity, his failure to provide for an "understanding or an explanation of intersubjectivity—caring for other people, or how to know other people" (p. 3). Percy's reservations about Kierkegaard were answered in the writings of Marcel, whose emphasis on intersubjectivity, mystery, language, and on man as homo viator deeply impressed Percy the incipient novelist-philosopher . Moreover, Marcel's conversion to Catholicism, a path Percy himself would take later, and the decisive impact of personal catastrophes on both men—World War I for Marcel, the suicide of his father and the death of his mother shordy afterwards for Percy—helped solidify the spiritual kinship between these two thinkers. Howland's study traces the impact of Marcelian thought, particularly the concept of intersubjectivity, on Percy's six novels. As she sees it, the essential problem for the Percyan character is to move from a position ofobserver//wsew into an intersubjective relationship with another, accepted as a Thou. To move in such a way is to become disponible towards the other, to escape egoistic closure, 330Philosophy and Literature to reject a problematical approach to experience, and to respond to the essential mystery of being with hope. Binx Boiling, the hero of TL· Moviegoer, dawdles through life as an observer until he commits himself to marry Kate Cutrer, herself a poseur given like Binx to crippling bouts of self-objectification. By mutual commitment in marriage they begin, tentatively, to develop an intersubjective relationship, although Percy presents it rather cryptically. In contrast to Binx Boiling, Will Barrett of TL· Last Gentleman is the consummate disponibh man, yet without much sense of self. Will longs for an intersubjective relationship, yet fails miserably when his "beloved" Kitty Vaught becomes a stereotypical co-ed addicted to sorority life and Saturday football games. Still, hope remains for Barrett in his relationship with the dying Jamie Vaught and his suicidal brother, Sutter. Here, Howland effectively links the theme of intersubjectivity to Marcel's concept of spiritual suicide to disclose Barrett's true condition as post-Christian wayfarer. Less effective is her discussion of Love in tL· Ruins. Although she connects Marcel's concept of a "broken world" to Percy's satiric post-apocalypse milieu and claims Tom More as a Marcelian wayfarer, her stress upon the theme of intersubjectivity seems too exaggerated for the novel's tone and emphasis. Howland's chapters on Lancelot and The Second Coming contain her most perceptive applications of Marcelian thought. Lance Lamar's half-mad monologue is seen as Percy's direst portrayal of a world without intersubjectivity. Yet Howland sees hope in the reconversion of Lance's listener-friend Fr. John, which she argues is the main point of the novel. This reconversion is undoubtedly important, but Howland may overemphasize its effect on the reader, whom Percy entangles skillfully in ambivalent responses to narrator Lance. The bond of intersubjectivity, Howland shows, is most fully realized by Will Barrett and Alison Huger in TL· Second Coming. Both escape spiritual death through a love that creates a "world" named in mutuality and grounded in fidelity and hope. However...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 329-330
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.