The Clash Between Memory and the Self in Walker Percy’s The Last Gentleman and The Second Coming

  • Urszula Niewiadomska-Flis the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin
  • Magdalena Budzyńska Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin


The aim of our article is to analyze how the processes of remembering relate to a sense of self. We assume that both phenomena, memory and the self, are not only closely related, but can also be in conflict. A play of metaphors may be the most effective way to capture this conflict. The life of Williston Bibb Barrett, the main character in Walker Percy’s The Last Gentleman and The Second Coming, will serve as an illustration of our hypothesis. His life is a record of a dynamics of memory influenced by attacks of amnesia, fugue states and déjà vu. A modern semiotic model of cultural memory, theories of the self, Bartlett’s modern schema theory and their mutual relationships and conflicts will furnish an entry point for our analysis of Walker Percy’s eponymous last gentleman.

Author Biographies

Urszula Niewiadomska-Flis, the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin
Urszula Niewiadomska-Flis teaches American literature at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (Poland). Her areas of research include fiction of the American South and representations of foodways in American literature. Her most recent publications are The Southern Mystique: Food, Gender and Houses in Southern Fiction and Films (Publicacions de la Universitat de València, 2012) and an edited volume Dixie Matters: New Perspectives on Southern Femininities and Masculinities (Wydawnictwo KUL, 2013).
Magdalena Budzyńska, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin
Magdalena Budzyńska, graduated in Polish from Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin in 2005. In 2012 she received PhD in Polish literature. Since 2011 she been lecturing on the depiction of visual arts in literature at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University. Her area of research includes visual anthropology, especially the process of creating metaphor.