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SomeRecent FaulknerStudies FrancisJ. Basha. Faulkner's "Soldiers' Pav": A BibliographicStudy. Troy,N.Y.: ยท TheWhitston Publishing Company, 1982. 531+viiipp. BruceF.Kawin.Faulkner's MGM Screenplays. Knoxville:The University of Tennessee Press, 1982. 558+xi pp. JohnPikoulis. The Art of William Faulkner. Totowa,NJ.: Barnes & Noble Books, 1982. 242+xiipp. HughM. Ruppersburg. Voice and Eye in Faulkner's Fiction. Athens:The University of Georgia Press, 1983. 189+ xi pp. EricJ.Sundquist. Faulkner: The House Divided. Baltimore:Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983. 183+ xiiipp. John]. Tucker Because they address problems that still trouble us and employ techniques that remain a challenge, the works of William Faulkner continue to engage literary critics. In addition, the haste and-scale of his writing and rewritings, which inner vision urged and finances required, have left enough loose ends to keep scholars profitably busy for years. Hence the five works examined here. Chosen from the immense annual outpouring of erudition, they offer a representative sample of the available approaches. One examines the treatment ofracial themes in Faulkner's fiction, enunciating the patterns which become intelligible only when his works are read within their historical context. Two subject his work to more formal scrutiny. The remaining two are dedicated to making available what Faulkner actually wrote. Although the weight of exegesis may seem enough to overwhelm its subject, Faulkner's enormous vitality and idiosyncracy survive it all. The new lights cast, as new lights will, newshadows. But the flickering images projected by the elucidators create a movingpicture from which the audience appears as yet unwilling to depart. Eric J.Sundquist writes out of the conviction that life and literature form a continuum. His Faulkner: The House Divided, which may be seen in part as an attempt to retrieve Faulkner's "little postage stamp of native soil" from literary philatelists, brings a new sense of engagement and urgency to the reading of his fictions. The cultural moment that engendered Faulkner is receding and, as Sundquist argues, there is an increasing danger that we will Canadian Review of American Studies, Volume 16, Number 1, Spring 1985,83-93 84 John J. Tucker begin to misconstrue his achievement, for "it is only when we lose sight ofthe climate of social thought and legal proscription in which he wrote, a climate sometimes difficult to imagine so few years later, that his fiction seems out of proportion to the troubling realities of race relations in America" (p. ix). Since these realities are historically contingent, it is fitting that in its title the study alludes to Lincoln's famous anti-slavery speech of 1858 even as it focuses our attention on Absalom, Absalom!, the novel in which Faulkner's exploration of slavery and its aftermath assumes its most characteristic and powerful form. Sutpen's doomed struggle to preserve his house from the self-destructive compulsions rooted in slavery recalls, with significant differences, Lincoln's own crusade. The emphasis on this particular dimension of the novel also accounts for the form of the study, for it depends on the argument, also adumbrated in the title, that Faulkner's career can be divided into two periods, one "devoted to a study of novelistic forms and the other to carrying those developed forms into a domain of greatest resonance,, (p. 5), into a world, that is, which finds its obsessive center in miscegenation. The study thus fallsinto two unequal parts. The first submits to relatively formalist examination the three major works in which Faulkner probed the imaginative possibilities of modernist narrative techniques: The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying and Sanctuary. The second part pursues a more thematic analysis of Light in August, Absalom, Absalom! and Go Down, Moses, locating these works in the historical and cultural context in which they find their meaning. Although self-consciously tendentious, Sundquist's study hardly suffers the usual tension between monolithic argument and the readings through which it is articulated. The vague anticipations of the theme of miscegeny in The Sound and the Fury and Sanctuary are certainly given more than their full due, but the comparatively unsympathetic treatment of the earlier novel cannot wholly be traced to the larger argument and to the central status accorded Absalom, Absalom...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 83-93
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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