Faulkner: Masks and Metaphors

Faulkner: Masks and Metaphors

Faulkner: Masks and Metaphors

Faulkner: Masks and Metaphors

Excerpt

What then is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonymics, and anthropomorphism.

-- Friedrich Nietzsche quoted in Jacques Derrida

Part of the fun of writing is putting on masks.

-- Tom Whalen

The pronouncement of the nineteenth century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche as transmitted through the deconstructive spirit of Jacques Derrida and the casual remark of the contemporary American poet Tom Whalen on a writer's pleasure in role-playing mark the wide range of this book's theme. It contains cognitive, ethical, and aesthetic aspects, centering on masks and metaphors and comprising the sociopsychic implications for Faulkner's readers of his personae and his imagery. Nietzsche's replacement of truth by metaphor accords well with his conviction that the modern artist can best be understood as a wearer of masks ("around every complex spirit a mask continually grows" [ Beyond Good and Evil 69-70 ]). Indeed, Nietzsche's interrelated views on masks and metaphor constitute the threshold of my approach to Faulkner.

The first part of the book, comprising chapters 1 and 2, is devoted to Faulkner's role-playing in his photos and interviews and to the theoretical grounding of the concepts of mask and metaphor. The second part (chapters 3 and 4) contains studies of specific masks and metaphors of the artist. Chapters 5-8, making up the third part, seek to utilize the aesthetics emerging in parts 1 and 2 by focusing on metaphoric strategies in Faulkner's major novels. The discussion in this third part proceeds from some specific aspects of the metaphoricity in The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, and A Fable to the center of the book, the more comprehensive studies of Absalom, Absalom! and particularly The Hamlet. The investigation of the interaction of the several modes of image making and image receiving, their psychoanalytic and sociopolitical, modernist and regionalist features, demonstrates that Faulkner's greatness lies as much in the creativeness of his metaphorics as in his narrative inventiveness.

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