A Companion to William Faulkner

A Companion to William Faulkner

A Companion to William Faulkner

A Companion to William Faulkner

Synopsis

This comprehensive Companion to William Faulkner reflects the current dynamic state of Faulkner studies.

  • Explores the contexts, criticism, genres and interpretations of Nobel Prize-winning writer William Faulkner, arguably the greatest American novelist
  • Comprises newly-commissioned essays written by an international contributor team of leading scholars
  • Guides readers through the plethora of critical approaches to Faulkner over the past few decades
  • Draws upon current Faulkner scholarship, as well as critically reflecting on previous interpretations

Excerpt

Richard C. Moreland

William Faulkner has received more critical attention than any other American writer, and since the 1980s that critical attention has dramatically changed. At first either ignored or considered scandalous or insufficiently engaged, Faulkner was then long championed by the New Critics for his formal experiments and his focus on apparently universal themes of tradition, community, and individual moral consciousness. Now, however, his writing is more often appreciated for raising unwieldy questions about the legacies of ongoing economic change, historical violence, and intractable social tensions, both within the us South and in related contexts such as urbanization and mass culture in other parts of the us and Europe, plantation economies in the Caribbean, and civil wars and racial codes in Latin America. His readers have also returned to questions of social and aesthetic forms, especially the formation of gnarled cultural consciousness and uneasy critique, both in his subject matter and in his adaptations of existing literary styles and popular culture genres. This dynamically changing state of Faulkner criticism is what this volume proposes to represent.

The chapters are grouped in five parts. the first part, “Contexts,” emphasizes recent critical attention to various dimensions of the world within which Faulkner’s work is situated – reflecting, exploring, and interrogating that world. the chapters in this part demonstrate how various contexts precede and surround Faulkner’s work, not merely figuring as backdrops or subject matter but thoroughly informing everything that is done, said, heard, or written in his novels and stories. This part begins with Richard Godden’s study of powerfully persistent, underlying economic structures in the us South and slow, faltering changes in the relations between laborers and their masters, debtors, and employers. Grace Elizabeth Hale and Robert Jackson place Faulkner’s work within a history of regional and national thinking about race and civil rights that changed almost as slowly as economic structures, while Anne Goodwyn Jones closely links Faulkner’s life and work with changing “beliefs about gender and sexuality contemporary to both.” Catherine Gunther Kodat shows how Faulkner, like Jean-Luc Godard, struggled with art’s place in a more rapidly shifting twentieth-century world . . .

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