Download William Faulkner: A Literary Life (Literary Lives) by David Rampton PDF

By David Rampton

Regardless of all of the biographical reports dedicated to William Faulkner, there are nonetheless many basic contradictions within the manner he's perceived. He has been defined as a author of worlds ? l. a. Dickens and as considered one of postmodernism's avatars, as detached to the highbrow currents of his time and as profoundly indebted to them, as deeply insightful approximately matters like race, classification, and gender and as anyone who in simple terms displays modern anxieties approximately them. A concise and targeted examine of Faulkner's literature and existence that will help readers style in the course of the questions raised by means of his paintings and via the voluminous reaction to it.

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Sample text

I could feel his hand going right slow along my side as far as he could reach and then back again, slow, slow’ (100), says Emmy, recalling part of the experience, which will sound passionate enough to some. Eroticism also inheres in what is not said, and even in this early novel the silences speak volumes. Faulkner’s characters function fitfully in stock roles, only to revert to their complex humanity fairly quickly. This particular nymph wakes up ‘cramped and wet and cold’, and is greeted when she goes home by a father who calls her ‘whore’ (101) and threatens to kill her.

As such passages gradually supersede the reported speech, the world of lovers’ fantasies takes over from the realistic one in which soldiers are wounded and come home to die. Two other examples will suffice to illustrate the point. Towards the end of the novel Faulkner divides the text into segments designated by time’s passing (‘Nine-thirty’, ‘Ten o’clock’), segments that read like prose poems. There are more imitations of Swinburne’s verbal ingenuity, particularly his skill at making abstractions concrete.

The sort of self-conscious meditation that this gives rise to must have seemed self-indulgent to the editors who rejected Flags in the Dust, and Faulkner cut it substantially when he turned to it into Sartoris. The portrait of the intellectual as weary aesthete is there in both versions, but what is omitted from the second is important. In both novels Horace pens a letter, full of idle chitchat and indiscreet desire, to his sister. In Sartoris, he mails it, the chapter ends, and we are back to Bayard’s story.

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