More than fifty years after its publication, Walker Percy’s National Book Award winner, The Moviegoer, still comforts, agitates, and enlightens generations of readers. Twelve new essays, edited and introduced by Jennifer Levasseur and Mary A. McCay, emphasize the evolving significance of this seminal novel, set in New Orleans. The contributors consider the text with diverse perspectives, drawing on areas as wide-ranging as philosophy, theology, disability theory, contemporary music and literature, social media, and film studies.
Percy biographer Jay Tolson opens the volume with reflections on rereading the novel on a Kindle decades after his first exposure to it. H. Collin Messer, Montserrat Ginés, Jessica Hooten Wilson, and Brian Jobe follow with illuminating essays analyzing Percy’s influences, from St. Augustine and Cervantes to Heidegger and Dostoevsky. Jonathan Potter and Read Mercer Schuchardt, Mary A. McCay, Matthew Luter, and Dorian Speed delve into the novel’s significance to cinema, including an exhaustive guide to its film references, a meditation on Binx Bolling as a director of his existence, and the semiotics of celebrity. Brent Walter Cline and Robert Bolton, Michael Kobre, and L. Lamar Nisly present a roadmap for Bolling’s inward journey, exploring a variety of the book’s elements from the role of the broken body to various spiritual connections.
Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer at Fifty is the first critical work devoted solely to Percy’s debut novel. Coinciding with the centenary of his birth, this collection offers fresh perspectives that underscore the novel’s ongoing relevance.
Mary A. McCay and Jennifer Levasseur 1
Part I. Voices of Influence
The Unquiet Heart: St. Augustine’s Influence on Walker Percy (H. Collin Messer)
Spinning along the Gulf Coast in the Company of Cervantes (Montserrat Ginés)
From the Underground Man to Alyosha Karamazov: The Trajectory of Binx Bolling in The Moviegoer (Jessica Hooten Wilson)
The Everyday Lightness of Binx: Being and Time in The Moviegoer (Brian Jobe)
Part II. “Certifying” Reality: Screening The Moviegoer
Binx at the Movies, Percy at Play: The Moviegoer’s Cinematic References Revisited (Jonathan Potter and Read Mercer Schuchardt)
Binx Bolling as Producer, Director, Actor (Mary A. McCay)
The (Fictional) Character Projected upon the Page: The Moviegoer and the Semiotics of the Celebrity Self (Matthew Luter)
Following William Holden on Twitter: Social Media and the Search (Dorian Speed)
Part III. The Moviegoer as Roadmap for the Search
The Need for the Disabled Body in The Moviegoer (Brent Walter Cline and Robert Bolton)
Tramps Like Us: Bruce Springsteen, Binx Bolling, and the Search for Faith and Meaning (Michael Kobre)
Journeying through Percy’s The Moviegoer and Gautreaux’s The Missing (L. Lamar Nisly)
A native of Louisiana, Jennifer Levasseur received her PhD from the University of Wollongong and now resides in Australia. A voting member of the National Book Critics Circle, she is editor of Conversations with James Salter and Novel Voices and has published in Tin House, Glimmer Train, Brick, the Kenyon Review, and newspapers in the United States and Australia.
Mary A. McCay, professor emerita of English, Loyola University New Orleans, was awarded a Fulbright Professorship to the UK and one to Japan. She has published several books and scholarly articles, and her creative work has appeared in the Boston Globe, Providence Journal, New Orleans Review, and Xavier Review, among other publications. She was the inaugural director of the Walker Percy Center for Writing and Publishing.