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Faulkner in the Twenty-First Century

Faulkner in the Twenty-First Century

Deborah N. Cohn
Leigh Anne Duck
Robert W. Hamblin
Michael Kreyling
Barbara Ladd
Walter Benn Michaels
Patrick O’Donnell
Theresa M. Towner
Annette Trefzer
Karl F. Zender
Copyright Date: 2003
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  • Book Info
    Faulkner in the Twenty-First Century
    Book Description:

    Where will the study of William Faulkner's writings take scholars in the new century? What critical roads remain unexplored?

    Faulkner in the Twenty-first Centurypresents the thoughts of ten noted Faulkner scholars who spoke at the twenty-seventh annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference at the University of Mississippi. Theresa M. Towner attacks the traditional classification of Faulkner's works as "major" and "minor" and argues that this causes the neglect of other significant works and characters. Michael Kreyling uses photographs of Faulkner to analyze the interrelationships of Faulkner's texts with the politics and culture of Mississippi.

    Barbara Ladd and Deborah Cohn invoke the relevance of Faulkner's works to "the other South," postcolonial Latin America. Also approaching Faulkner from a postcolonial perspective, Annette Trefzer looks at his contradictory treatment of Native Americans.

    Within the tragic fates of such characters as Quentin Compson, Gail Hightower, and Rosa Coldfield, Leigh Ann Duck finds an inability to cope with painful memories. Patrick O'Donnell examines the use of the future tense and Faulkner's growing skepticism of history as a linear progression. To postmodern critics who denigrate "The Fire and the Hearth," Karl F. Zender offers a rebuttal. Walter Benn Michaels contends that in Faulkner's South, and indeed the United States as a whole, the question of racial identification tends to overpower all other issues. Faulkner's recurring interest in frontier life and values inspires Robert W. Hamblin's piece.

    Robert W. Hamblin is a professor of English and the director of the Center for Faulkner Studies at Southeast Missouri State University. Ann J. Abadie is associate director at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-042-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    Robert W. Hamblin

    With its number of consecutive annual meetings now totaling twenty-seven, the Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference sponsored by the University of Mississippi is currently the longest running conference devoted to a single author. And with each successive meeting, as Donald Kartiganer observed in his opening remarks to those attending the 2000 conference, the inevitable question is raised: After all these years, is there anything more to be said about Faulkner and his works?

    This question, understandably, is given heightened prominence at the beginning of a new millennium. Thus the organizers of the 2000 conference selected the program topic “Faulkner in the...

  4. A Note on the Conference
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  5. Opening Remarks
    (pp. xix-xxii)
    Donald M. Kartiganer
  6. The Roster, the Chronicle, and the Critic
    (pp. 1-13)
    Theresa M. Towner

    The last thing an author does in the preparation of a scholarly book is to index it, and this usually happens under the intense pressure of a deadline from the publisher. In my case withFaulkner on the Color Line, it also happened after two proofreadings of the page proofs under the same deadline; so somewhere in the “Faulkner, William, Characters” section of my index, I promised myself that the next book I wrote would contain no proper names whatsoever. Yet close upon that vow I was struck with a sudden sense of creatorly power—which may only have been...

  7. Faulkner in the Twenty-First Century: Boundaries of Meaning, Boundaries of Mississippi
    (pp. 14-30)
    Michael Kreyling

    What we think and how we think about William Faulkner is bounded by what we think and how we think about Mississippi. And vice versa. From the perspective of Y2K, the boundaries clearly enclose a continuous loop of cultural self-definition. The engines of the process are powerful, but obvious and hidden, direct and indirect all at once. An annual celebration of Faulkner’s work on the site in Mississippi of much of his life is one example of the looping. For more than a third of the previous century (certainly from 1930 to 1960), Faulkner created (and, I argue, was in...

  8. William Faulkner, Edouard Glissant, and a Creole Poetics of History and Body in Absalom, Absalom! and A Fable
    (pp. 31-49)
    Barbara Ladd

    Early inAbsalom, Absalom!, Thomas Sutpen appears in Yoknapatawpha County with a band of Caribbean slaves and a French architect from Martinique. On a previous visit, he had quietly negotiated the purchase of 100 square miles of land with money presumably gotten in the Caribbean; and he has returned to begin clearing the land and building his mansion.² Until a few years ago, one found in the commentary onAbsalom, Absalom!little dealing with the significance of Sutpen’s ties to the Caribbean even though his fortune, his band of slaves, and the Frenchman he hires to design a mansion were...

  9. Faulkner and Spanish America: Then and Now
    (pp. 50-67)
    Deborah N. Cohn

    In 1997, when the University of Mississippi Libraries put togetherA Faulkner 100: The Centennial Exhibition, the University archivist invited Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez to contribute a piece. The reflections of this author who, in the archivist’s words, “is indelibly associated with the number one hundred,” were, appropriately, the final item in this exhibition of one hundred items of Faulkneriana.² “Ever since I first read Faulkner in my twenties,” García Márquez wrote,

    he has seemed to me to be a writer from the Caribbean. This became more apparent when I tried to describe settings and characters from Macondo, and...

  10. Postcolonial Displacements in Faulkner’s Indian Stories of the 1930s
    (pp. 68-88)
    Annette Trefzer

    In 1903 W. E. B. Du Bois prophetically announced that the problem of the twentieth century would be “the problem of the color line.” At the end of the twentieth century, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., dared another prophecy when he wrote that the problem of the twenty-first century will be “the problem of ethnic differences.”¹ Ethnic differences and the politics of identity, which found their way into academic and popular discussions in the last few decades, have provided literary study with a new political urgency. Challenging traditional figurations of American literary history, scholars have begun to listen to the silenced...

  11. Haunting Yoknapatawpha: Faulkner and Traumatic Memory
    (pp. 89-106)
    Leigh Anne Duck

    Though we consider, in this volume, how one might read Faulkner in the twenty-first century, many reviewers believed, during the early years of his writing life, that he hardly belonged to the twentieth. Unlike later critics, who praised Faulkner for contemplating the continuing influence of the past on the present, Depression-era critics saw the author himself as a figure who belonged to the past, helplessly attempting to forge some relationship to modernity.¹ In the exemplary argument of Philip Rahv, Faulkner’s identification with a region still shaped by the past was said to isolate him from the present, and, concomitantly, from...

  12. Faulkner’s Future Tense: A Critique of the Instant and the Continuum
    (pp. 107-118)
    Patrick O’Donnell

    The relation between Faulkner’s discourse and temporality, or Faulkner’s representation of time past and passing into the future, has been a constant subject of criticism about his work. I believe that this relation significantly constitutes our conception of Faulkner as a modernist author bearing a distinct profile and signature who partakes fully of an epochal fascination with the experience and destruction of time. From Sartre’s early existentialist reading of the connections to be found between time and self inThe Sound and the Fury, to John Irwin’sbriodiscussion of temporality in Faulkner constituting identity in the mode of repetition,...

  13. Lucas Beauchamp’s Choices
    (pp. 119-136)
    Karl F. Zender

    In the last twenty or so years, interpretation of Faulkner’s “The Fire and the Hearth”—the second-longest section ofGo Down, Moses, next to “The Bear,” and an interesting work in its own right—has undergone a striking change. To commentators writing from within the liberal consensus of the 19605 and 19705, “The Fire and the Hearth” seemed a warm celebration of African American family life, a sympathetic (if near-tragic) portrayal of a black male’s struggle to affirm his dignity, and a forward-looking meditation on the theme of Southern racial relations. In recent years, however, this line of interpretation has...

  14. Absalom, Absalom!: The Difference between White Men and White Men
    (pp. 137-153)
    Walter Benn Michaels

    In the fall of 1859, Charles Taliaferro, a central character in Stark Young’sSo Red the Rose(the number two bestseller of 1934), rides up from his father’s plantation in Amite County to the University of Mississippi. His classmates that year, if fiction were real, would have included Charles Bon and Henry Sutpen, one coming from New Orleans, the other from Jefferson. All three, of course, would spend the next years not at the University but in the Civil War. Those that returned—Charles doesn’t but at least one of Young’s other heroes does—would come back to plantations threatened...

  15. Beyond the Edge of the Map: Faulkner, Turner, and the Frontier Line
    (pp. 154-171)
    Robert W. Hamblin

    James Cowan’s fascinating novel,A Mapmaker’s Dream, subtitledThe Meditations of Fra Mauro, Cartographer to the Court of Venice,¹ records the lifelong efforts of a sixteenth-century monk to create an accurate and comprehensive map of the entire world. In his cloister of an island monastery Fra Mauro interviews explorers, merchants, and visitors from distant lands; reads letters and books by world travelers; and pores over maps created by other cartographers. In the process of conducting his research and mapping his findings, Fra Mauro comes to understand, and accept, the paradoxical and mysterious relationship between the known and the unknown, civilization...

  16. Contributors
    (pp. 172-174)
  17. Index
    (pp. 175-177)