The Art of Faulkner's Novels

The Art of Faulkner's Novels

The Art of Faulkner's Novels

The Art of Faulkner's Novels

Excerpt

In this study I discuss Faulkner's narrative techniques as a whole and provide close readings of four major novels, The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Light in August, and Absalom, Absalom! The organization of chapters indicates my effort both to explore elements of Faulkner's artistry in all his novels and story collections and to treat individual novels as distinct works of art in which these elements are successfully fused. In the first two chapters of Part One I examine Faulkner's stylized characterization and isolate various techniques by which he establishes moral and social themes without sacrificing crucial elements of narrative realism. The next two chapters concern Faulkner's use of social mythology and the presence in his work of extreme contrasts between figures representing rational or "puritan" man and figures suggesting primitive or natural forces. In the final chapter of Part One I discuss Faulkner's use of the interior monologue and other devices by which point-of-view problems are both created and solved. Part Two consists of detailed analyses of the four novels, with an emphasis upon elements of language structure and theme, as well as characterization. Part Three is devoted to publications subsequent to The Hamlet (1940), and compares these later works to more successful earlier ones.

The original version of this study, very different in emphasis and scope, was submitted as a graduate thesis at Yale University. I am deeply indebted to Norman Holmes Pearson, who directed the thesis, and to other members of the Yale graduate faculty, in particular Cleanth Brooks, Frederick A. Pottle, and Louis Martz. A number of friends have read portions of the final manuscript and offered helpful criticism, among them Joseph J. Moldenhauer, Julian Moynahan, and Jay Halio. I remember with great pleasure the lectures given by John Hite and Lawrance Thompson at Princeton in 1948 and 1949, which first introduced me to the delight of studying Faulkner's novels.

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