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Remembering, Forgetting and Self-Constitution: A Comparison of The Last Gentleman and Lanterns on the Levee

  • Liang Meng
Original Paper
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Abstract

This paper examines in a comparative manner how remembering and forgetting contribute to self-constitution in Walker Percy’s The Last Gentleman and William Alexander Percy’s Lanterns on the Levee. In The Last Gentleman, Will Barrett embarks upon a journey from the North to the South in quest of identity. Lanterns on the Levee features a similar identity quest pursued, this time, by an autobiographer who records the very process of this quest rather than representing it by a fictional character. Percy the stoic restores realness to people in a lost world, from whom he derives his self and in whom his self is deeply rooted, by remembering the personally significant and good past and forgetting the personally insignificant and evil present. In so doing, he not only asserts his personal identity but continues to construct it in an imaginative way. Will, by contrast, seeks to constitute and ascertain his stoic identity both by attempting to forget the everydayness of ordinary life and thereby establish a genuine relationship with people and by undertaking the pursuit of a fatherly figure who echoes his tenacious memory of his father. Both Will and Percy, however, may be called what Kierkegaard calls a knight of infinite resignation.

Keywords

Remembering Forgetting Self-constitution The Last Gentleman Lanterns on the Levee 

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Copyright information

© Fudan University 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BeijingChina

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