June 30, 2005

Shelby Foote, R.I.P.

I catch so little news these days that I'm glad Amy linked to this. One of my favorite books is "The Correspondence of Walker Pecy and Shelby Foote". From a commenter on Amy's blog:
Shelby Foote on Walker Percy's conversion to Catholicism:

When Walker told me he was thinking about going into the Catholic Church, we were in Santa Fe, New Mexico on a sort of vacation. And I couldn't believe he would do that. I knew nothing about the Catholic Church. I knew that they had an index of books that people are not supposed to read, and I certainly didn't want him belonging to anything that would do that to you. So I said, "You are a mind in full intellectual retreat," and it's a wonder he ever spoke to me again. He found exactly what he was looking for in the Church. It gave him exactly what he wanted, and it was a great comfort to him when he was dying, and it was at the wellspring of his being, the Church and its teachings, and he was truly devout. He had a lot of trouble, always called himself a bad Catholic, but he got a great deal from it.

Shelby Foote remained Episcopalean by some accounts, but others consider him agnostic.

Their greatest bone of contention was Percy's recent conversion to Roman Catholicism. Foote's initial reaction - yours is "a mind in full intellectual retreat" - stung Percy. Foote believed the move was "cowardly." Worse, "no good practicing Catholic can ever be a great artist." Foote, still active, confessed to a recent interviewer he was "very, very wrong" on this score, even though he remains an agnostic literary modernist.

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