I am a fan of two late Southern writers who, as it turns out, were lifelong friends: Shelby Foote and Walker Percy.
Actually, I had a correspondence with Shelby Foote about 30 years ago when I was young and seeking a mentor. We exchanged letters and spoke on the phone mostly about his writing and my music. We never met in person, as I lived in Eden Prairie and he in Memphis.
Foote was a novelist who between the years 1953 and 1973 wrote the three volume opus on the Civil War which his fame greatly rests upon. He brought a novelist’s eye and sensibility to history writing. Later even more fame came to him when he was featured in the Ken Burns Civil War documentary series.
His good friend Walker Percy was a medical doctor who came to novel writing quite late. He made up for lost time however and is highly regarded for his insightful novels that have a distinctive philosophical bent. He was a sort of existentialist Catholic which is an odd combination especially for an American Southerner.
I am re-reading “The Correspondence of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy” which is a great look into their relationship and also a rare glimpse into each of their creative endeavors. They constantly gave each other creative advice and encouragement through the years and their recommendations to each other in terms of books, art and music is a treasure.
One quote from a letter to Foote from Percy exactly captures a feeling about religion and God that resonates with me:
“My Catholicism consists just now and mainly in the deepest kind of hunch that it all works out, generally for the good, and everybody gets their deserts.”
At week three of my hiatus in the sun I have come up with a short guitar piece that I think is quite nice.
The working title is “Poor Hidalgo.”
I have been thinking about the Don Quixote character a lot and it led to this tune which utilizes as a unifying them the Spanish dance pattern called “Quajira” which alternates 6/8 and 3/4 meters.
According to wiki the definition of “hidalgo” is:
“In literature the hidalgo is usually portrayed as a noble who has lost nearly all of his family’s wealth but still held on to the privileges and honours of the nobility. The prototypical fictional hidalgo is Don Quixote, who was given the sobriquet ‘the Ingenious Hidalgo’ by his creator, Miguel de Cervantes. In the novel Cervantes has Don Quixote satirically present himself as an hidalgo de sangre and aspire to live the life of a knight-errant despite the fact that his economic position does not allow him to truly do so. Don Quixote’s possessions allowed to him a meager life devoted to his reading obsession, yet his concept of honour led him to emulate the knights-errant. The picaresque novel Lazarillo features an hidalgo so poor that he spreads on his clothes breadcrumbs from a box to simulate that he has had a meal. His hidalgo honour forbids him from manual work but does not provide him with subsistence.”