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Children of the Dark House

Text and Context in Faulkner

Noel Polk

Publication Year: 1998

Polished and refitted into a new critical matrix, these essays by a distinguished Faulkner editor and scholar in no way resemble the casual self-anthologizing often encountered. Polk's stature as a critic meshes neatly with his work as an editor; his patent joy at the very sight of Faulkner manuscripts is inspiriting, and his professed commitment to Freudian readings is borne lightly (that is, expressed in sensible, jargon-free discourse that is both witty and brilliant).
--J. M. Ditsky, Choice

First published in 1996, this book by a major scholar of William Faulkner's writings collects choice selections of his Faulkner criticism from the past fifteen years. Its publication underscores the significance of his indispensable work in Faulkner studies, both in criticism and in the editing of Faulkner's texts.

Here, Polk's focus is mainly upon the context of Freudian themes, expressly in the works written between 1927 and 1932, the period in which Faulkner wrote and ultimately revised Sanctuary, a novel to which Polk has given concentrated study during his distinguished career. He has connected the literature with the life in a way not achieved in previous criticism. Although other critics, notably John T. Irwin and Andre Bleikasten have explored Oedipal themes, neither perceived them as operating so completely at the center of Faulkner's work as Polk does in these essays.

Noel Polk, a professor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi, is the editor of the definitive texts of Faulkner's works. He also is one of the most notable scholars of Eudora Welty's works and the author of Eudora Welty: A Bibliography of Her Work (University Press of Mississippi)

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Tittle Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v

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Introduction: Pleasure of the Texts

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pp. vii-xv

The essays in this collection derive from an abiding interest in the intense reciprocities between William Faulkner's life and his work, between his lived and his imaginative lives. Most of them explore his engagement with his psychic life, the last two his more...

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Where the Comma Goes: Editing William Faulkner

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pp. 3-21

Scholarly editing is the ultimate act of criticism, because it involves a wider range of issues than interpretation alone does, from macrocosmic ones like the author's meaning, to more mundane and practical microcosmic ones like where does the comma go? Dealing with...

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Children of the Dark House

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pp. 22-98

Faulkner's original title for both Absalom, Absalom! and Light in August was "Dark House."1 Why he abandoned the title, twice, is impossible to know. Perhaps its oblique allusion to Dickens' Bleak House was a different kind of weight than he wanted either novel...

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Trying Not to Say: A Primer on the Language of The Sound and the Fury

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pp. 99-136

Flower spaces that curl, a fence, a search, a table, a movable flag, and a pasture in which people are "hitting," all without any apparent relationship to one another, dot the visual landscape of the opening lines of The Sound and the Fury. And, as if the first paragraph...

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The Artist as Cuckold

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pp. 137-165

In order to believe that Thomas Sutpen rejects Charles Bon because he has black blood, readers have blithely been willing to do a good deal of fancy footwork around some significant obstacles. First, you have to believe that Sutpen is far more race-conscious than...

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Ratliff's Buggies

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pp. 166-195

The Hamlet begins with a blurring of geographical, temporal, and political boundaries. Though Frenchman's Bend lies "twenty miles southeast of Jefferson," it is "Hill-cradled and remote, definite yet without boundaries, straddling into two counties and...

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Woman and the Feminine in A Fable

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pp. 196-218

At almost the exact dead center of A Fable occurs one of those characteristic Faulknerian scenes that abrupt into the narrative, encounter one or more of the plot's central characters or elements, then disappear as abruptly. By 1954 this was so well-established an...

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Man in the Middle: Faulkner and the Southern White Moderate

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pp. 219-241

Faulkner wrote Intruder in the Dust in the winter and early spring of 1948, seasons during which the Mississippi Democratic party geared itself for a vital confrontation with the national Democratic party at the summer convention in Philadelphia over the...

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Faulkner at Midcentury

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pp. 242-272

There's a wonderful moment in the 1952 Omnibus television program about William Faulkner. Moon Mullins, Faulkner's old friend and the former editor of the Oxford Eagle, comes to Rowan Oak to tell Faulkner that he's won the Nobel Prize. The Omnibus...

Works Cited

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pp. 273-282


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pp. 283-288

E-ISBN-13: 9781621031949
E-ISBN-10: 1578061032
Print-ISBN-13: 9781578061037

Publication Year: 1998