What to read next — another list.


  1. Deep Furrows says

    Wise Blood!

  2. Quin Finnegan says

    Wise Blood is a great suggestion, especially if we’re going to go with fiction. The world view is pretty similar to Percy’s, of course, and yet the techniques of the two authors are so different that it could be instructive to consider the role of religious orthodoxy in the writing of fiction.

    I haven’t read Wise Blood for years, either.

    If we’re not going to read fiction, I would strongly argue for taking up Girard. If I had the time I would just start posting my own Girardian musings as often as possible. Like this one.

    My appreciation, nay, veneration of Girard really grows out of my earlier veneration of Percy, and I think he has so much to offer to students of Percy’s that I’m utterly amazed I hadn’t even heard his name up until about a year ago.

    What’s more amazing is that Girard didn’t and does not (as far as I know) come up much on the Percy list. Amazing, because they are similar enough in their respective weltanschauungs to merit much more cross pollination than they have. Okay, that was too much for one sentence. But my point is sincere – Girard answers many of the questions that Percy asked in both his fiction and in his essays, and sometimes even directly asked. For example, somewhere in LITC Percy posits a question for a student in dialogue with his or her professors – something about evolution and belief and god, and then says something to the effect of “I don’t know; why don’t you go and figure it out?”

    Well, Girard has figured it out, and while the individual books have their problems, the time will come (and may it come sooner rather than later) when to question his theory about culture and texts will be much like questioning Darwin’s theory now. I’m sure you know those fish signs on the back of cars – I’m thinking specifically of the one that has the “Darwin” fish being swallowed by the “Truth” fish.

    That “Truth” fish is Girard.

    Given my druthers, I’d start with a rereading of Dostoevsky’s “Demons”, and then go to “Desire, Deceit, and the Novel”, and then just take the rest of his books in chronological order. I’ve read them all at least once now, and I think the best way to understand them is to read them chronologically. That being said, I think the last book, “I See Satan Fall Like Lightening”, is the most overtly Christian of the books, and it’s easy enough to understand without going through the difficulties of “Violence and the Sacred”. But of course those difficulties are necessary for a fuller understanding.

    And “I See Satan” also has a wonderful introduction that works as a good summary of Girard’s research throughout his career. So, yeah, “I See Satan Fall Like Lightening”. Go buy it – now, if you haven’t already. You’ll thank me.

  3. quin finnegan says

    Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, and the Aesthetic of Revelation, by John D. Sykes, Jr. will be available this October. Should be good.

  4. Deep Furrows says

    It’s funny how the critics love to gush about O’Connor’s sacramental vision (and to be sure, she freely confesses her Catholic aesthetics), but she typically refers back to Hawthorne’s sense of Romance and Conrad’s attempt to portray the justice of the universe.

    What’s really needed is some great atheist critics to grapple with O’Connor without recourse to the habitual hagiography of the Catholics.

    I would add that I’m already sold on reading and blogging on Wise Blood with the remainder of the summer. In fact I’ve already begun…

  5. Deep Furrows says

    Hey Quin,
    I just finished reading Conrad’s Lord Jim. I’ve only read the Balthasar article at GodSpy, but Lord Jim may be an example of Girard’s thesis…


  6. Henri Young says

    “Demons” for me. Or, Girard. The latter has been sitting on my shelf for some time collected dust. Didn’t it used to be called “The Possessed”?

  7. Quin Finnegan says

    Mr. Fred Furrows: I tried (in a hurry) to find your posts on Wise Blood, but all I found was a web page called la nouvelle theologie that wouldn’t load all the way. Or finish unloading, or whatever it is web pages do. And I thought you had another page. And which of Les Nouveaux Theologiens are you? The one with the beard? Or one of the collars?

    That’s a great point about O’Connor and the current mode of criticism. I think you’re right about that atheist critic, but I also think that many atheist critics would have the same reaction to O’Connor that they would have if they were sitting in the back of a church and watching a service in progress. Not all, maybe, but those who worship Nietzsche or Marx would get pretty fidgety. What in the world would a Nietzschian make of Parker’s Back?

    Regarding Conrad and Girard, I don’t know. Maybe. I’ll have to read Lord Jim, I guess. I know Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer pretty well, but the author’s vision in both strikes me as fairly Manichean. But the exchange with primitive cultures… there must be something there.

    Mr. Henri Young: Yup, “Demons”. That’s how it was translated most recently. I just picked up the old Modern Library copy with the cover of a hand with a bunch of demon-like face in its grasp. We could each use a different copy and compare translations.

  8. Deep Furrows says

    here it is: deepfurrows.blogspot.com

    It’s back on my profile now; I changed something and it had gone away. La Nouvelle Theologie is my friend David’s blog: I can’t justify his aesthetics or lack thereof 😉


    PS. some say unbelievers like O’Connor more than Catholics do, but I haven’t seen the stats.

    These folks have peacock tattoos in homage of Flannery;
    This one likes Hitchens and O’Connor

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