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Fleeing Exceptionality in a Little Red MG

Fleeing Exceptionality in a Little Red MG

Driving through National Melancholia

(p.81) Chapter 3 Fleeing Exceptionality in a Little Red MG
Between Distant Modernities
Brittany Powell Kennedy
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter looks forward in the South and backward in Spain to find two modern subjects that move from the melancholia experienced by Faulkner’s and Cela’s main characters to a place of mourning. In Pío Baroja’s El arbol de la ciencia (The Tree of Knowledge, 1911) and Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer (1961), each author uses a suicidal, auto-biographical main character influenced by existential philosophy that shows the ambivalence inherent in performativity when the modern subject attempts to renew a traditional past in the modern present. While both characters’ decisions to “let go” of the past and reach a state of mourning seem disparate as one commits suicide and one does not, both subjects’ constant, but impossible, search for “truth” shows how one can not only critique concrete ideas of coded nationalism but also how they can be productively remembered as the ghosts they harbor are let go by the modern subject.

Keywords:   Pío Baroja, Walker Percy, Mourning, Existential philosophy, suicide

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