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Walker Percy vs. Flannery O’Connor? Nah. They are such different writers, to ask whether one is “better” than the other is simply the wrong way to frame the question. And the Coleridge/Wordsworth comparison is fairly ludicrous. An interesting assessment all the same.


  1. Quin Finnegan says

    Thanks, Rufus.

    I agree with you entirely about the two Southerners, and that's a fine point about the poets also. The "novelist of ideas" tag is okay as far as it goes, but as far as I'm concerned, it all boils down to one mind-boggling insight I've never seen expressed anywhere else: the difference between a piece of knowledge and a piece of news, as expressed in the essay Message in the Bottle. It's not in Augustine, Aquinas, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche … the idea, as far as I can tell, is Percy's own, and every reader who comes across it will (or should) spend the rest of his/her life coming to terms with it.

    The writer, Micah Mattix, does hit the nail on the head about one thing: no other writer, Southern, American, or Otherwise so effectively makes the mystery inherent in the story he tells into the mystery that will become the reader's own.

    O'Connor wrote beautifully about her characters and the world in which they lived, but very seldom directly described in her fiction that which animated her most. Much of her work is a scathing satire of people who miss the mark by a little or a lot or somewhere in between.

    Percy sometimes seems almost deliberately artless by comparison, but he deals directly with that animating spirit. There's not much fuss in either LITC or TS.

    "From the heart, may it go to the heart."

  2. Anonymous says

    Flannery O'Connor is the sort of nasty writer you tend to like when you're young. Walker Percy is nice, if dull.

  3. Anonymous says

    What is the point made in Message In a Bottle? I tried to get hold of it for years before the internet happened, and by then had lost interest. Would be grateful if someone could summarise.

  4. Quin Finnegan says

    Both O'Connor and Percy are the sort of writers onto whom many people, young and old, tend to project their own personal insecurities so as not to have to confront these insecurities themselves.

    The internet has actually made getting aholt of books easier than ever. It also has a tendency to make people lazy, intellectually and otherwise.

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