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Signposts in a Strange Land


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About the Author

Walker Percy wrote several books, many of them bestsellers, and is considered one of the greatest American writers of our time.


Eminent physician/novelist Percy ( The Moviegoer ) died in 1990. Accumulated here are many uncollected essays, several seeing publication for the first time, grouped under three headings conceptually central to Percy's thought: life in the South; the relationship of science, language, and literature; and morality/religion. Sometimes dense (``Is a Theory of Man Possible?''), sometimes light (``Bourbon''), his nonfiction is always entertaining and enlightening. Percy is justly famous for his efforts to detect meaning in a world growing more meaningless, and many of his ``signposts'' carry a lot of accessible semiotic significance. Lots of small gems, too: for instance, that Melville was trying to ``out-Hawthorne Hawthorne.'' For all serious literature collections.-- Robert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, N.Y.

"These moving pieces of nonfiction, some quite brief and terse, others more relaxed and spacious, offer 'signposts' that will help us understand not only the 'strange land' that is late-20th-century America, but the extraordinary mind of an especially alert and knowing observer." --Robert Coles, Boston Sunday Globe"Tart, lively, and likeable. You come away admiring not only the writer's sense and sensibility, his sophistication and intelligence, but, more important, his wisdom and courage." --George Core, The Washington Post Book World"Percy is always intelligent, always civilized, never blind to his opponents' point of view." --Evelyn Toynton, The New York Times Book Review"Remarkably revealing . . . Signposts shows Percy in all of his moral and intellectual grandeur . . . What shines through, however, is Percy's fundamental decency, his compassiona for the human predicament, and his abundant love for humanity." --Jonathan Kirsch, Los Angeles Times

``Bourbon does for me what the piece of cake did for Proust,'' writes Percy in one of his sparkling, fluent essays on the South. Other pieces with Southern themes collected here deal with the Civil War, New Orleans, cemeteries, race relations and why this eminent novelist, who died last May, chose to live in a ``nonplace''--Covington, La. The remainder of these previously uncollected essays range widely over literature, science, morality and religion. Arguing that modern science ``cannot utter a single word'' about what is distinctive in human behavior, art and thought, Percy turns to semiotics for the beginnings of ``a coherent science of man.'' Modern fiction, he contends, serves a diagnostic and cognitive role in revealing us to ourselves in a century of spiritual disorientation. Other selections cover movie magazines, psychiatry, abortion (he opposes it), Eudora Welty and Moby Dick. Samway is literary editor of America and author of a book on Faulkner. (Aug.)

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