Thursday, May 1, 2008


When you hear the name Lancelot, you may first think of fair Guinevere and the legend of Arthur and his knights.  These myths are told and retold throughout history and novels have also drawn upon them for story lines and character development. One of the more interesting uses of both Lancelot's name and chivalry is found in a masterpiece  by Walker Percy titled LANCELOT. Like its author's chosen home of New Orleans a city of shadows, ghosts, and duality where nothing is as it seems,  Lancelot Lemar a modern day self professed (or self imagined white knight "wanna be," shares his story from a psychiatric ward - your first clue that all is not well in the world of his legal mind. 

This is the book your college instructor would have you tear apart by layers -- searching for hidden meaning, recounting philsophy, digging for clues from Percy's own history to flesh out the demons that haunt Lancelot in the story. On the other hand it is just a great book to pick up and read. You'll laugh, you'll  ponder the crime that led to Lancelot's insane asylum admission and  you'll marvel at  Percy's words and  the passions they evoke as he describes Lancelot's love of chivalry, his overwhelming need for the romance of the past - even if it is all an illusion. It is said  that the difference between the North and the South is that in the South we 
appreciate our eccentrics -- well, I suspect except for the terrible violence, Lancelot would be revered south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Is Lemar haunted? Is Lamar crazy? His narrative will leave you guessing and you can decide for yourself. Whatever you think, don't miss a chance to read the words of a classic novel by a truly gifted writer.