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The Last Gentleman: A Novel Paperback – September 4, 1999
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Four girls on a trip to Paris suddenly find themselves in a high-stakes game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control. Learn More
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From the Publisher
"Lovely and brilliant...a highly whimsical kind of picaresque tale that puts one in mind of both Faulkner and Canneau." --Joyce Carol Oates, The Nation
"Breaks your heart in the midst of laughter." --Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Customer Reviews
from his world and himself. When a chance encounter in Central Park leads him to make the
acquaintance of the Vaughts, fellow Southerners who knew his father, Will embarks on a journey
that he hopes will tell him what he desperately needs to know. What does he need to know?
If Will knew the answer to that, he wouldn't need the Vaughts, or the South, or the haunted
memory of his father. Traversing the country, Will seeks the one man he believes will tell
him what to do. Percy not only weaves a lush character study of lost Will, but realizes
a profound meditation on the nature of identity, place, and home. Above all, like any
good picaresque novel, Will's journey is not so much about the end, but about what he discovers along the way. However, as a testament to
Percy's imagination and probity, Will's final destination provides nothing less than utter
revelation. I closed this book and jumped out of bed immediately, my breath coming in gulps
as I absorbed and processed what Walker Percy had taught me with such love, patience, beauty
The primary character of the novel is Bill Barrett (who is more often called the engineer). The engineer suffers from amnesia and periods of deja vu, and he reads about a near-apocolyptic catostrophe and wonders if it has already happened. He is the lost (dead) American. One day, looking through his telescope, he sees a girl, and the result is that he becomes involved with her family the Vaughts. The relationship with them ends up sending him on a journey through the South and on to New Mexico, a journey in which he gains a type of salvation.
One of Percy's primary beliefs about novel writing was that it should be entertaining, and The Last Gentleman succeeds. It is at times hilarious and is often moving. It is true that there are periods where it drags a little, but the truths Percy presents more than make up for those sections. The Last Gentleman is a supremely beautiful, entertaining, and thoughtful novel.
What does the engineer observe? A confused, whimsical belle named Kitty who is his love, and the displaced family around her. Her con artist (in a benevolent way) of a father, her mystic, lewd brother Sutter and her mystic, martyr sister Val, her sickly brother Jamie, and finally her caretaker for a sister-in-law. In a odyssey of absurdity the engineer travels from New York City to Carolina and finally to New Mexico, facing irate Pennsylvanians and rioting students, even the police in his native town. He does so with his keen eye and lack of dishonesty, eventually untangling his love Kitty from the "loving" clutches of her sister-in-law and caring for his friend and Kitty's brother Jamie on his deathbed, leaving a wake of bewildered men and women. A great read that takes time to ingest, and who knows how long to digest.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Book came in great condition. Love Walker Percy's writing style this is one of the cooler covers as well.Published 2 months ago by cel
Love Walter Percy's writing! This Last Gentleman leads into The Second Coming. I actually read The Second Coming first and like it so much I bought The Last Gentleman to get the... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Shirley Musich
I hate to admit that I don't remember some details, but I think Walker Percy was an incredible writer--so much so that I read Second Coming and The Moviegoer right after reading... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Joann Nash
It's a Good story throughout the introduction and the body. However, there are point in times you just feel lost by the authors writings. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Helio Alves
A rather dense book that I found a bit hard to get into. Percy is a very literate writer, obviously smart.Published 12 months ago by Julia M. Doub
The Last Gentleman (1966) is intriguing for a while but, at least for me, ran out of gas toward what I suppose author Walker Percy intended as a profound and thought-provoking... Read morePublished 14 months ago by M. Buzalka
Had a hard time getting into this book. Others in my book club seemed to enjoy it, but it was not one of my favorites. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Thinker
Walter Percy is for some peoples taste but why is a mystery to me. This novel is meant to be full of wry humor and even aspires to satire but was already dated when issued. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Jonathan A. Weiss
I do not understand the end of this book. Seriously...what is the deal with this ending?Published 19 months ago by Josh Willis