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??? COHPAnATIST TRIPTYCHS OF SOLIPSISM: THE DECADENT PLANTATION IN JOSÉ LINS DO REGO'S FOGO MORTO AND WILLIAM FAULKNER'S THE SOUND AND THE FURY Thomas O. Beebee BrazUian noveUst José Lins do Regó and US novelist WiUiam Faulkner were two significant figures in an international, interbeUum propensity towards rural fiction, a "Uterature of the sou," which can be seen as a reaction to international modernism. In the Americas this trend was caUed regionalismo (regionaUsm), which "[set] itselfthe task of examining an area, of analyzing it, and of seeing it in its context. [Do Rego and Faulkner] both deal centraUy with a region in transition from patriarchal forms to a new social and economic structure" (Standley 73). These authors chose to record the pecuUarities of the places where they had been raised—Paraiba in the Nordeste (Northeast) of BrazU, and Mississippi in the Deep South ofthe United States, respectively—from the perspective of the land- and slaveholding class from which they descended, and with an air of what might be caUed ironic nostalgia. The fiction of these two authors records not just the external landscape, customs, and habits oftheir regions, but more prominently, the injustice and dysfunctionalism of the patriarchal, latifundarian, racist societies with which they were famiUar. In an essay which explains the affinity of Latin American authors for Faulkner's fiction, Deborah Cohn has claimed that the Deep South and Latin America "share a history of dispossession, socio-economic hardship, poUtical and cultural conflict, and the export of resources to support the development ofa 'North'—whether the northern US or the nation as a whole" (151). Both authors had long careers, and shared the tendency to create novelistic cycles with reappearing characters. In general, Faulkner experimented formaUy far more than Lins do Rego, but two masterpieces by these authors show a remarkable structural simUarity. My comparison ofLins do Rego's Fogo morto (1943) with Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (1929) will begin by identifying simüarities in the narrative structure of the two works, which aUows them to show the effects of history and social structure on consciousness. Each novel is separated into chapters which hardly seem to belong to the same work, because they focus on characters who think, act, and speak completely differently from each other. Through the language ofthese characters, ¿ins do Rego and Faulkner examine the social roots for the lack offeeUng and human communication in their respective worlds. Beginning with the comparable pecuUarities of language in each pair (that is, one in each novel) of characters, I wül use the psychological theories of Jacques Lacan and JuUe Kristeva to explain their psychology. I wül then point out the interVoI . 23 (1999): 63 TRIPTYCHS OF SOLIPSISM section of these psychological characteristics with the social themes of the texts, and close with broader speculations on the psychohistory of these regions as reconstructed in their twentieth-century Uteratures. The decay of plantation society in the Nordeste and in the Deep South overlaps with the urban processes ofanomie which gave literary modernism many of its themes. For example, Mariana Soares has compared Lins do Rego's works with those ofAlbert Camus and of other existentiaüst writers. Most readers would also agree with Juarez da Gama Batista that "José Lins do Rego is constantly renewing in each of his novels the problem of soUtude as [his] main theme." In both works, "regionaUsm" operates as a Unguistic process, an exploration of the construction of worlds through words. For reasons which I will investigate in the foUowing, both authors choose to show "their" regions refracted through the consciousness ofseveral characters rather than just one. My comparison unearths the historical and ideological bases of the perspectivism which structures the two works. Fred ElUson has adumbrated the simüarities between Deep South and Nordeste: "Like the [US] South, the [Brazüian] Nordeste was during the colonial era the center of a rich agricultural economy based not on cotton so much as on sugar cane, and its society was an aristocracy of large landholders marshaling armies of slaves. On these foundations arose a pecuUarly stable culture which produced [. . J [notable] statesmen , scholars, artists, poets, and novelists" (3). Eugene Genovese...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0887
Print ISSN
0195-7678
Pages
pp. 63-88
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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