Although Walker Percy named many influences on his work and critics have zeroed in on Kierkegaard in particular, no one has considered his intentional influence: the nineteenth-century Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. In a study that revives and complicates notions of adaptation and influence, Jessica Hooten Wilson details the long career of Walker Percy. Walker Percy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the Search for Influence demonstrates—through close reading of both writers’ works, examination of archival materials, and biographical criticism—not only how pervasive and inescapable Dostoevsky’s influence was but also how necessary it was to the distinctive strengths of Percy’s fiction.
From Dostoevsky, Percy learned how to captivate his non-Christian readership with fiction saturated by a Christian vision of reality. Not only was his method of imitation in line with this Christian faith but also the aesthetic mode and very content of his narratives centered on his knowledge of Christ. The influence of Dostoevsky on Percy, then, becomes significant as a modern case study for showing the illusion of artistic autonomy and long-held, Romantic assumptions about artistic originality. Ultimately, Wilson suggests, only by studying the good that came before can one translate it in a new voice for the here and now.
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Table of ContentsWALKER PERCY, FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY, AND THE SEARCH FOR INFLUENCE Series Title Page Title Page Copyright Dedication CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGMENTS INTRODUCTION DOSTOEVSKY IN PERCY’S WORLD PERCY’S ENCOUNTERS WITH DOSTOEVSKY APPROACHES TO INFLUENCE STUDIES OVERVIEW CHAPTER 1: Failed Imitation in The Charterhouse and The Gramercy Winner DISEMBODIED CHARACTERS IN THE CHARTERHOUSE THE OUTSIDER-PROTAGONIST IN THE GRAMERCY WINNER INCARNATIONAL AESTHETIC CONCLUSION CHAPTER 2: Faithful Re-membering in The Moviegoer REMEMBERING DOSTOEVSKY RE-MEMBERING DOSTOEVSKY CHAPTER 3: Modeling a Holy Fool in The Last Gentleman PARALLELS BETWEEN THE LAST GENTLEMAN AND THE IDIOT KNIGHTS-ERRANT THE DOUBLES TRAGEDY VS. COMEDY CHAPTER 4: Borrowed Critiques in Love in the Ruins TOM MORE AS AN AMERICAN STAVROGIN ART IMMELMANN AS DEMONIC FOIL LIFE AS AN EX-SUICIDE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE INFLUENCE CHAPTER 5: “Outdostoevskying Dostoevsky” in Lancelot EVIDENCE OF DOSTOEVSKY IN PERCY’S WRITING PROCESS NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND AND THE ANTIHERO NARRATOR SUPERSEDING THE VIOLENCE OF CRIME AND PUNISHMENT THE DARKNESS AND THE LIGHT FROM THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV CONCLUSION CHAPTER 6: Echoed Prophecies in The Second Coming and The Thanatos Syndrome “DOSTOYEVSKY’S IDEA”: FROM THE DEGRADATION OF LANGUAGE TO THE DEATH OF MILLIONS UNITING OF SIGNS AND SIGNIFIERS IN THE SECOND COMING LOVE, TRUTH, AND AUTHORITY AT THE END OF THE SECOND COMING THE LOSS OF MEANING TO THE LOSS OF LIFE CONCLUSION: Imitation Versus Anxiety: A Christian’s Response to Harold Bloom’s The Anxiety of Influence BIBLIOGRAPHY INDEX LITERATURE, RELIGION, AND POSTSECULAR STUDIES: Lori Branch, Series Editor