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The Canadian Review of American Studies, Volume 11,No. 3, Winter 1980 More Guides to Yoknapatawpha Cleanth Brooks. William Faulkner: Toward Yoknapatawpha andBeyond. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978. 445+ xviiipp. Elizabeth M. Kerr. Yoknapatawpha: Faulkner's "LittlePostage Stamp of Native Soil. "New York: Fordham University Press, 1976. 284 pp. Elizabeth M. Kerr. William Faulkner's Gothic Domain. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1979. 264 pp. EvansHarrington and Ann J. Abadie, eds. The South and Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha: The Actual and the Apoc,:vplzal. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1977. 212 + xii pp. EvansHarrington and Ann J. Abadie, eds. The Maker and the .~~~·th. Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha, 1977.Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1978. 169.+ xiv pp. Evans Harrington and Ann J. Abadie, eds. Faulkne,; Modernism, and Film. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1979. 199 + xv pp. Theodore Colson The conclusion of Cleanth Brooks's study, begun with William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Country (1963), is an event in Faulkner scholarship and criticism. Rereading the first book, one is disappointed to find that it is not as intense as one remembered, for it suffers like so much writing on Faulkner from more paraphrase of stories than seems necessary. Here is of course the problem of a book's audience; the undergraduate and general reader are not likely to know all the· Faulkner canon, and since Faulkner's work is so important as one whole the critic is often compelled to summarize . But there are now enough general introductions to Faulkner, of which Brooks's two books may be the best (though I would prefer Olga Vickery's for just the main novels), and from now on all Faulkner critics ought to eschew every word of summary ,that isnot essential to the point being made. There are two most important values of Brooks's first book. One is his exhaustive analyses of the simple "facts," especially concerning chronologies and dates-for example, his chart distinguishing between facts and conjecture in Absalom, Absalom! The other, more important, is the occasional great insight-such as that a "basic theme inLight inAugust isman's strained attempt to hold himself up in rigid aloofness above the relaxed female world"; you felt this truth in the novel before you read it in Brooks, but once you have read Brooks's statement you have a hold on it and are not likely to forget it. 382 Theodore Colson The new volume is less exciting, because it is about Faulkner's books which are not about the mythical Yoknapatawpha County, and these are,on the whole, his poorer books. But Faulkner lovers are interested in everything he wrote, and this is probably the best book, as a whole, about the apprentice work and the later wanderings outside Yoknapatawpha. The first chapter is on Faulkner's poetry-one of the best if not the best essay on the subject-and, as Brooks says, the main interest of the poemsis to see the weaknesses Faulkner needed to overcome, which are a lack of authenticity (the poems are enormously "literary") and a lack of focus. Faulkner's great poetry is of course within some of his prose. Since the material does not offer so many opportunities for great critical insights, the value of this volume is proportionately greater in the more "pedantic" exercises. (I cannot think of a better word; in this case pedantic should be thought of as honorific rather than pejorative.) For example, Brooks's notes are full of morsels like the list of literary echoes, mostly from Housman and Eliot. The second chapter, on the early romantic prose, focuses on The Marionettes and "Nympholepsy." Brooks places Faulkner in the tradition of romantic poetry, and associates his concern with nympholepsy, the quest for the unattainable nymph, with the works of Keats, Shelley, Swinburne, Yeats and Cabell; he cites examples of Faulknerian protagonists' descending into water, like ,Narcissus, and points out that these figures foreshadow Quentin Compson. But Brooks notes that more important than considering the romantic predecessors is appreciating Faulkner's attempt to "accommodate " this impulse and experience "to reality." Brooks helps us see in these early works Faulkner's gropings toward the great poetry of Quentin Compson, Joe...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 381-387
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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