Lance has a silent listener to his narrative,na long-time friend called Percival,nwho is now both a Roman Catholic priestnand a psychiatrist. Although Percivalndoes not speak in the novel except tonanswer a series of questions at the end,nhis presence is crucial. It is Percival’snpresence which sparks Lance’s recollectionnof the events which follow the discoverynof Margot’s infidelity, and asnLance’s story progresses, the readernwatches its effect on Percival. Apparentlynseriously troubled himself at the beginning,nPercival appears gradually to recovernhis faith. He once again takes tonwearing what Lance calls his “priestnclothes” and finds himself able to offernprayers for the dead, a thing he had earliernrefused to do. At the end, as Lance, aboutnto be released, is preparing to set off fornVirginia to establish his new order ofnthings, Percival too prepares for a departure—tona small parish in Alabama,nto make bread into the Body of Christ, tongive communion to suburban housewives,nand “to forgive the sins of Buickndealers.” Both characters—and apparentlynPercy as well—agree that no other responsesnto what Lance calls Sodom arenpossible.nTechnically, Lancelot is not a flawlessnnovel. The device of the silent listenernwhich Percy borrowed from Camus createsna bit of awkwardness, especially atnthe start. Moreover, despite the glimpsesnof him the reader receives, Percival remainsnalmost too shadowy a character tonbear the weight the novel places on him.nIn spite of flaws, however, Lancelot is anthoroughly readable novel. All the goodnstuff of a Gothic thriller—an old housenwith creaking timbers, a raging storm,napparitions, murder, madness—is here,nmuch of it borrowed, one suspects, fromnthe late E.A. Poe. Here, too, are most ofnthose trappings which seem especiallynto delight Northern readers of novels bynSouthern writers—the network of auntsnand cousins, and quaint and curiousnnames, the hints of a dark and bloodynpast. Yet the novel is more than eithernGothic romance or a piece of local color.nFinally it is a cautionary tale, not unlikenDante’s Comedy if we may take the epigraphnseriously, designed to show us thenlost souls so that we may purpose amendmentnin ourselves. •n”It is not a cheery book, and those of us who would make Percy out to be a safe Christian novelist hadnbetter beware . . .”— The Christian Centuryn”Art . . . should be a little less pompous, a lot more serious. It should stop sniveling and go fornanswers or else shut up . . ‘.’ — The New York Times Book Review.n”Lancelot’s fantasy of setting out for Virginia (‘where it all started’), and there inaugurating a ThirdnRevolution founded upon honor, chivalry, and the suppression of pornography could be enjoyed asncomic megalomania if we did not suspect a certain authorial complicity in the protagonist’s programn. ..”— The New York Review of Books.n”. . . one finds it hard to take seriously the novel’s message of total destruction . . ‘.’—The NewnLeadern”He rails on, a voice in a wilderness of porno shops and massage parlors, playing Jeremiah to HughnHefner, Larry Flynt, and company. It is the voice of one who sees himself as the last man in Americanwho believes in love . . ‘.’ — Saturday Review.n”Percy seems to have backed himself into an empty corner with his obsessed and isolated seeker…”n— The New Yorkern”… when (Percy) ruminates philosophically on sex and sin and violence and evil and the craziness ofnthe age, it is hard to take him seriously, even when his comments are seemingly rational andnplausible . . ‘.’—The Progressiven’Absurd mutterings . -Rolling Stone.nnn13nChronicles of Culturen