In the first undertaking of its kind in Percy criticism, John F. Desmond traces - through Walker Percy's six published vels - the writer's enduring concerns with community. These concerns, Desmond argues, were grounded in the realism of such Scholastics as Aquinas and Duns Scotus - realism as updated by the semiotic theory of Charles Sanders Peirce, the American philosopher whose work Percy studied for more than forty years. Desmond demonstrates how, in Percy, the social, philosophical, and theological implications of Peircean thought melded with a devout Catholicism to inform and impel a search for community. Percy gleaned from Peirce the central truth that humans are by nature relational beings - a truth reinforced by Percy's Catholic belief in mystical community. Desmond shows how Percy's theosemiotic outlook shaped each of his vels, from The Moviegoer (1961) to The Thanatos Syndrome (1987), providing a foundation for his analysis of alienation, his critique of scientism, and his vision of community.
John F. Desmond is Mary A. Denny Professor of English at Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington. He is the author of Risen Sons (Georgia) and At the Crossroads.