Sunday, February 28, 2016

Firing Line with Eudora Welty and Walker Percy: The Southern Imagination

When I posted about Win Riley's documentary on Walker Percy, my brief comments in this post noted my disappointment there wasn't more from the episode on Firing Line that had Eudora Welty and Walker Percy (although I understood the legal issues). At the time, though, you could find the transcript of the episode online and it was an extremely fun read. Unfortunately, the transcript is not currently available.

The good news is that the episode is currently available on Amazon Prime. As the summary mentions, it starts a little slow but it definitely picks up steam as it goes. A summary at Amazon's site can be found here. Highly recommended for fans of Welty and Percy.

Update: A few quotes after having seen this and what stood out in comparison to having read the transcript a few years ago:
  • The ghost of William Faulkner haunts the discussion, and one point that Percy and Welty repeatedly drive home is how an author focuses on the individuals in the novel, not the issues. One of my favorite quotes by Percy: “You know, nothing is more difficult to write than a good protest novel. The angrier you are, the worse novel you’re liable to write.”
  • Buckley makes a point that any Southerner of my generation (approaching, if not having already entered, old fart territory) will understand, concerning the “entrenched bigotry in other parts of the country that made a living off of moralizing at the expense of the South.” Welty and Percy have some very gracious comments that soften the judgment, but you will note they don’t exactly contradict Buckley.
  • More on race relations, and repeated questions of whether either writer felt like leaving the South (with several references to intellectuals leaving 1930’s Nazi Germany…of course with apologies saying that wasn’t the direct comparison they meant): Percy notes that while violence mars the South, “there’s a certain tolerance and civility toward people and their opinions. Maybe it’s because Southerners look on writers as harmless and eccentric. And you’re expected to say strange things. … And do.”
  • (Possibly my favorite quote from the whole program): Percy, quoting Flannery O'Connor when she was asked why she had so many freaks in her novels: "And then she said, well, in the South we still recognize freaks, you freaks."


RT said...

Thank you for this posting. You've revived my shelved interest in Southern literature, and I now feel the need to return to my roots: Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Walker Percy, Carson McCullers, William Faulkner, and others. Again, thanks. You have no idea how important your posting and links are to me.

Dwight said...

Thanks Tim. I hope you enjoy the 'revival.' As much as I love Walker Percy, it's been too long since I've read any of his books. I need to fix that soon.