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William Faulkner
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From the beginning, William Faulkner's art was consciously self-presenting. In writing of all kinds he created and "performed" a complex set of roles based in his life as he both lived and imagined it. In his fiction, he counterpoised those personae against one another to create a written world of controlled chaos, made in his own protean image and reflective of his own multiple sense of self. In this groundbreaking book, James Watson draws on the entire Faulkner canon, including letters and even photographs, to decipher the complicated ways in which Faulkner put himself forth through written performances and displays based in and expressive of his emotional biography. The topics Watson treats include the overtly performative aspects of The Sound and the Fury and related manuscripts and privately written records of Faulkner's life; the ways in which his complicated marriage and his relationships to male mentors underlie recurring motifs in his fiction such as marriage and fatherhood; his reading of Melville, Hawthorne, and Thoreau, and his working out through them the problematics of authorial sovereignty; his presentation of himself as "Old Moster," the artist-God of his fictional cosmos; and the complex of personal and epistolary relationships that lies behind novels from Soldiers' Pay to Requiem for a Nun.
Product Details

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations Abbreviations Used Preface I. Self-Presentation and Performance II. Photographs, Letters, and Fictions III. Marriage Matters IV. Who's Your Old Man? V. Stage Manager VI. Old Moster Notes Works Cited Index

About the Author

James G. Watson is Professor of English at the University of Tulsa.

Reviews

Displaying an astonishing familiarity with every day of Faulkner's life and every line of his work, Watson (English, Univ. of Tulsa) demonstrates that, from the beginning of his career, the Mississippi writer used the people (including his father), anxieties, and experiences of his life in nearly every facet of his fiction. Faulkner projected his state of mind while staying at Yale into the character of Quentin Compson at Harvard in The Sound and the Fury and the emotional turmoil of his sexual relationship with Estelle Oldham into Temple Drake of Sanctuary and Requiem for a Nun. The author's discussion of Faulkner's art as self-presentation and performance begins with an analysis of a series of photographs taken after World War I through which he tried to convey the flamboyance of a flyer and soldier. It continues with an interpretation of his early play Marionettes and ends with a discussion of Requiem for a Nun. Watson's study will help revive interest in the very early works and will give additional resonance to several of Faulkner's novels, particularly The Sound and the Fury, Sanctuary, and Absalom, Absalom! Recommended for university libraries.DCharles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, MO Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"Intersecting biography and criticism, this book is essential for [library] collections supporting Faulkner and American literature." - Choice "Displaying an astonishing familiarity with every day of Faulkner's life and every line of his work, Watson demonstrates that, from the beginning of his career, the Mississippi writer used the people (including his father), anxieties, and experiences of his life in nearly every facet of his fiction... Watson's study will help revive interest in the very early works and will give additional resonance to several of Faulkner's novels, particularly The Sound and the Fury, Sanctuary, and Absalom, Absalom!" - Library Journal "The relations between biography and fiction, between experience and creation, form a seamless tapestry under Watson's expert hand... Watson's book is a delicately nuanced study of a complex and compelling writer, whose work continues to yield fresh surprises. It brings us closer than before to the man he must have been and earns for the book a place on the list of essential Faulkner studies." - Faulkner Newsletter

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