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Book Reviews211 old form to fit new subjects, Fielding's consisted in inventing a new form to hold old ideas" (102). The idea of the rococo is not a new one but Park has managed well the difficult task of putting valuable old wine into new bottles. RICHARD HARP University ofNevada, Las Vegas DIANE ROBERTS. Faulkner and Southern Womanhood. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994. 265 p. JOEL WILLIAMSON. William Faulkner and Southern History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. 515 p. G or the authors of both of these studies, the most interesting matters in William Faulkner's fiction have to do with race, class, or gender. More surprisingly , they come close to convincing the reader that those were Faulkner's primary interests as a writer as well. Both Diane Roberts and Joel Williamson are committed theoreticians, but they are insightful, enthusiastic readers as well who shed considerable light on Faulkner's accomplishment . Roberts is, of course, primarily concerned with Faulkner's treatment of women. The design of her book is simple but brilliant: she identifies six standard roles in which Southern women traditionally appear, locates those roles in Southern culture, and then discusses in detail how Faulkner "negotiates the female images he inherits" (11) in his own narratives. The roles are in themselves suggestive: The Confederate Woman, Mammy, The Tragic Mulatta, The New Belle, The Night Sister, and Mother. One has only to read the list to be reminded how much of the narrative energy, and of the rhetoric, of Faulkner's best work derive from such people. As might be expected of a revised doctoral dissertation (Oxford University, in this case), Roberts's study is firmly grounded in Faulknerian scholarship and Feminist theory. She is seldom doctrinaire, however, and her interest in Faulkner is neither psychoanalytical nor prosecutorial: the novelist is not for her a victim of his own stereotypical thinking, nor an apologist for the status quo. While she uses the word "patriarchical" rather frequently, she seems to me closer to Faulkner's own spirit in a slightly different formulation: "Gail Hightower, Joanna Burden, and Joe Christmas are destroyed by a rapacious social order that demands their reduction to single, circumscribed categories of being" (185). In Faulkner's world, the managers and beneficiaries of that "rapacious social order" are both male and female; its victims, as Roberts suggests, are male as well as female, white as well as black. By and large, she is in close touch with Faulkner's world, and her readings of not only his "Southern women" but of the books in which they appear are spirited and instructive. 212Rocky Mountain Review Joel Williamson is a historian, best known for The Crucible of Race (Oxford, 1984). Given the centrality of race in much of Faulkner's work, it is not surprising either that Williamson would be interested in Faulkner or that a historian with his expertise could shed light on the novelist. He admits , however, to feeling, as a relative newcomer to Faulkner studies, some trepidation about the reactions to William Faulkner and Southern History by the "vast band of dedicated, brilliant, and virtually lifelong professional Faulkner scholars" (355). He may have worried about the wrong thing: most serious students of Faulkner will find much to value in Williamson's book, flawed as it is. The shortcomings are not primarily the result of his amateur status as literary scholar; although he has misread some minor matters (the travelling salesman at the end of Light in August is not V.K. Surratt, predecessor of the admirable V.K. Ratliffe, for example) and would have profited from knowing Go Down, Moses more thoroughly than he apparently does, he has a good grasp of the major issues in Faulknerian criticism and scholarship. His concluding section—"The Writing"—is as fine a brief analysis and appreciation of Faulkner's accomplishment as we have. (Roberts, sticking to her subject, does not permit herself this kind of magisterial essay on the total Faulkner corpus. If she did, it would be worth reading.) Oddly, it is in its "Southern History" aspect that the book is most disappointing . The first long section of the book, "Ancestry," is full of the kind...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-2833
Print ISSN
1948-2825
Pages
pp. 211-213
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-06
Open Access
No
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