Faulkner Criticism: A Partial View

By Kartiganer, Donald M. | The Faulkner Journal, Fall 2000 | Go to article overview

Faulkner Criticism: A Partial View


Kartiganer, Donald M., The Faulkner Journal


Henry Claridge, ed. William Faulkner: Critical Assessments. 4 vols. The Banks, Mountfield: Helm, 1999. xlix + 2632 pp.

William Faulkner: Critical Assessments, edited by Henry Claridge, is easily the largest collection of Faulkner criticism ever compiled. Numbering 2632 pages and bound handsomely in four volumes, the collection contains 243 essays, all but one previously published, the earliest a 1927 review of Mosquitoes by Conrad Aiken and the latest a 1999 essay by Andrew Sievewright. Included are reviews of all the novels, commentary by Faulkner's contemporaries, general perspectives on the work as a whole, and personal recollections of and interviews with Faulkner. The bulk of the collection consists of critical analyses of each of Faulkner's novels and is followed by three groups of "thematic assessments": Faulkner and the South, Faulkner and race, and Faulkner and the French. The value of having this amount of material in one place is undeniable, both for seasoned Faulkner scholars and for those just starting out on their study of Faulkner.

Even in so ample a collection as this, clearly an editor must omit a good deal, and normally one would not cavil (too much) over the absence of some personal favorites. But in this case omission has not been merely a matter of an editor having to choose among good and better essays; Claridge has explicitly adopted a particular strategy of omission, based entirely on chronology rather than merit. He has chosen to reduce seriously representation of "the more recent criticism of Faulkner" -defining "more recent" as anything published after Faulkner's death in 1962. He has made this choice primarily on the grounds of accessibility-the assumption that recent material is more easily available-although he adds the opinion that "some advantage naturally accrues to those who are 'first in the queue' and whose relationship to the writer under discussion is not custodial or proprietorial" (1: 6).1

Having made no surveys of college library holdings, I cannot comment on the accuracy of the first assumption, but availability of recent criticism should not necessarily be the decisive factor. One of the great values of a collection of this sort, as the general editor of the series, Graham Clarke, writes, is to enable readers "to trace the changing pattern of interpretation and ... view ... how the sense of a text, or the value of an author is re-assessed according to critical developments" (1: 1). As a tool for readers to acquire a sense of that "changing pattern," this collection is severely limited, given the under-representation of the last twenty years of Faulkner criticism. Devoting at least part of one of the four volumes to representative essays from 1975-1995 would have increased immeasurably its usefulness.

Claridge's second and third assumptions I find equally questionable. I can think of no inherent "advantage" the first commentator on Faulkner has over the tenth. Literary criticism (unlike literature itself) tends to move cumulatively, necessarily adding to what has gone before. More important, it raises new issues that speak to contemporary interests and needs that are not inherently of greater-or lesserimportance.

As for "custodial" or "proprietorial" treatment of the author, the criticism of the last twenty years has been nothing if not adversarial, not only to Faulkner's work but to literature in general. Much of that criticism is based on a general practice of "reading against the text," one form of which is the deconstructive attempt to attend to all the possible play of a text's system of verbal signs, rigorously unpacking it for hidden contradictions and ungrounded hierarchies. Another is the historicist effort to enlarge the reading arena to include the contexts of texts, the relevant political and social issues that criticism can use to expose a text's concealed biases, shift the structural balance from center to periphery, at times "rewrite" texts in order to give voice to characters and cultures they have chosen to keep (almost) silent. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Faulkner Criticism: A Partial View
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.