Ordered by Words: Language and Narration in the Novels of William Faulkner

Ordered by Words: Language and Narration in the Novels of William Faulkner

Ordered by Words: Language and Narration in the Novels of William Faulkner

Ordered by Words: Language and Narration in the Novels of William Faulkner

Synopsis

William Faulkner created compelling worlds with his words, but he repeatedly used his characters to warn against words. Relying on Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of language as both the creation of its user and a social construct, Judith Lockyer outlines Faulkner's discovery of the power and danger in language.

Five of Faulkner's characters- Horace Benbow, Quentin Compson, Darl Bundren, Isaac McCaslin, and Gavin Stevens- were endowed with a desire for the absolute, inviolable word. Faulkner both shares that desire and argues against it, making the dialogue about language the subtext of all his novels. Here, this continuing dialogue is traced chronologically from Flags in the Dust (Faulkner's third novel) to A Fable (a late novel here shown in a revealing new light). Lockyer also connects Faulkner's ideas about language and narration to his social and thematic concerns, particularly to America's legacy of racial strife. This is a coherent, convincing reading of Faulkner, from the time he finds his true voice and subject in the South through the late novels.

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