Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.A. in English

First Advisor

Martyn R. Bone

Second Advisor

Leigh Anne Duck

Third Advisor

Jay Watson

Abstract

When Walker Percy emerged on the literary scene in 1961, the American landscape had begun to transform in new and dramatic ways. As more and more Americans moved from city centers to suburban developments, Percy found that, in more ways than one, the center would not hold. This American cultural transformation was well underway when Percy wrote The Moviegoer, perhaps the first novel from the American South to have as its subject matter a suburban dilemma. Challenging, as Percy does, traditional notions of southern place and community, this thesis seeks to discover in Percy's body of work whether the rise of suburbia affected the South and its literature differently. More importantly, I wish to expose the ways in which Percy demonstrates that this geographical decentralization mirrored a universal psychological dislocation. Herein, I take a closer look at The Last Gentleman (1966) and The Second Coming (1980), two novels that portray country club communities in the South. Through these depictions of "new old" golf courses, Percy interrogates the (im)possibility of finding "authenticity" or a "sense of place" in any landscape, southern or northern, (sub)urban or rural, natural or artificial.

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