The Postmodern Perspective Of William Faulkner Essay
Many critics consider William Faulkner a modernist author, mentioning the clip period between the 1930s and 40s as the epoch in which he wrote himself into and out of modernism. Indeed, Faulkner ‘s novels during these old ages reflect many of the typical facets of modernist literature, and it is demonstrably advanced and alone. However, Faulkner appears to be making more than what the Modernists were using at the clip, particularly in the context of his experimentation with linguistic communication. In fact, the great Southern author appears to more so on the route to Postmodernism in his later plants than anything. During this period between the 30s and the 40s – what critics call Faulkner ‘s modernist epoch – his authorship besides seems to flux with Lacan ‘s poststructural theories of linguistic communication. Get downing with The Sound and the Fury in late 1929, Faulkner begins his journey through the Lacanian Mirror Stage, aware of the lingual Imaginary.
His attempt to craft the imagined universe of Yoknapatawpha reflects his early Modernist ego in Lacan ‘s Fanciful order phase, taging his uncomfortable attitude towards his disaffection from the South he one time knew. Quentin, whom most critics see as a dual to Faulkner, is the embodiment of Faulkner ‘s attitude, and his multiple visual aspects in Faulkner ‘s novels marks the phase in Lacan ‘s procedure of lingual development each clip. The age ends with the writer ‘s fulfilment of the Lacanian journey, with nowhere to turn but back. Absalom, Absalom! and “ Afternoon of a Cow ” prove Faulkner ‘s credence of the impossibleness of Lacan ‘s Real, highlighted by a authorship manner which could be characterized as transitionally postmodernist. Faulkner ‘s modernist/postmodernist individuality crisis between the 30s and 40s occurs during the writer ‘s Lacanian development in linguistic communication and idea, stoping with the acknowledgment of literature ‘s inability to interrupt the symbolic ceiling.While it would be improbably shortsighted and doubtless incorrect to mention to The Sound and the Fury as developing and non modern, the novel is nevertheless Faulkner ‘s most immature piece of literature in the context of Lacanian development. Here, Faulkner begins his problems with linguistic communication as he is ab initio trapped in the Imaginary phase.
John T. Irwin, in his essay on “ Doubling and Incest ” in Faulkner ‘s literature, suggests that Faulkner created the character of Quentin as an unconsciously dual of himself. Irwin purports that Faulkner ‘s ain remarks about the fresh support this analogue between him and Quentin, particularly his acknowledgment of his ain failures in literature and destiny to recite the same narratives ( Irwin 280 ) . While most critics point to Caddy as the focal point of the novel because of her function as the absent centre, a Lacanian reading of the text implies that the absent centre is really Faulkner himself since he puts so much of himself into Quentin ( and some of the other characters as good, though it is most prevailing here ) . Quentin ‘s chapter, which becomes increasingly more self-reflexive and dying, reveals Faulkner ‘s ain concerns and discontent with linguistic communication. It ends with his ultimate disaffection from everyone and everything – Quentin ‘s self-destruction – which is how Lacan explains the mirror phase as stoping. “ Lacan describes the completion of the mirror phase as the formation of the Ego through subjectification, during which a individual undergoes a struggle between his or her ain perceptual experience of the ego and the existent ego through experience – Lacan refers to this consequence as disaffection ” ( Evans 110 ) .
Quentin has undergone this find of his ain world – that which others have defined him to be – and his perceptual experience of himself. As Irwin suggests, “ It is alluring to see in Quentin a alternate of Faulkner, a two-base hit who is fated to recite and reenact the same narrative throughout his life merely as Faulkner seemed fated to recite in different ways the same narrative once more and once more ” ( Irwin 281 ) . His decease signifies Faulkner ‘s appraisal of his ain destiny. He predicts literary failure for himself due to the inability of linguistic communication to the full express everything he attempts to convey. This marks Faulkner ‘s first brush with the futility of linguistic communication, and his first measure in Lacanian development.Through this interior struggle, Faulkner associates with Quentin, and other characters like him. Indeed, he puts a portion of himself in every character that he creates, but characters like Quentin best serve as literary representations of him when sing his problems with linguistic communication.
“ Lacan holds that in the beginningaˆ¦we exist as portion of one uninterrupted entirety of being. In this early phase of development, we experience noaˆ¦sense of difference, and, exactly for this ground, the [ capable ] has no sense of a separate identityaˆ¦there is no “ I ” and no “ other, ” and, Lacan insists, the two constructs come into being together ” ( Duvall and Abadie 98 ) . Faulkner ‘s province at this point in his literary development is such as Lacan defines it. He has no sense of difference between himself and his work, and hence he meshes himself with Quentin and his other characters. However, his ain repressions appear in Quentin ‘s ideas and words, and Faulkner is incognizant of the sum of similarities between himself and the character. “ Faulkner revised the debut [ to The Sound and the Fury ] several times. In its concluding version, in which Faulkner doubles Quentin ‘s ain words in the novel.
.. : ‘So I, who had ne’er had a sister and was fated to lose my girl in babyhood, set out to do myself a beautiful and tragic small miss ‘ ” ( Irwin 283 ) . It is clearly through his ain connexion with Quentin that he learns how to link with this novel, but the relationship that he develops with the character finally blurs the line between himself and Quentin. Faulkner can see the spread between linguistic communication and world, but he can non look to guarantee the distinction between himself and his creative activities.A twelvemonth subsequently, Faulkner published his following novel, As I Lay Dying, in which he continues the lingual battles and development with the Bundren household. As Terrell Tebbetts suggests, each of the Bundren kids suffers his or her ain issue with linguistic communication: Cash can merely show himself through lists and figures, and though he seems perceptive at the terminal by explicating what happened to Darl, Cash recognizes Darl ‘s jobs with linguistic communication but presumes that they the mistake of Darl, non linguistic communication ( Tebbetts 128-130 ) .
“ But it is better so for [ Darl ] . This universe is non his universe ; this life his life ” ( Faulkner 149 ) . Cash speaks with a perceptual experience that is Faulknerian, as it reflects William Faulkner ‘s anticipation of his ain destiny. In this novel, he connects most with Darl through their shared discontent with the defects of linguistic communication.Darl ‘s lingual problems are the most serious, as he isolates himself through his inability to show his feelings. His jobs cause him to lose his individuality, repeatedly inquiring things about himself such as “ who am I. ” Early on in the novel, Vardaman asks what Darl ‘s female parent is ( Vardaman describes his female parent as a fish ) , and Darl comments that he does non hold one.
“ ‘I have n’t got ere one, ‘ Darl said. ‘Because if I had one, it is was. And if it was, it cant be is. Can it? ‘ ” ( Faulkner 58 ) . Darl ‘s construct of linguistic communication is that it describes world, and merely world. He perceives that he does non hold a female parent because she is dead ( hence, the “ was ” ) , yet what he truly means is that he no longer has a female parent. However, he gets so lost in his efforts to gestate this that he arrives at the determination that he does non hold a female parent.
As alluded to earlier, these problems affect his ain individuality. “ I dont know what I am. I dont know if I am or non. Jewel knows he is, because he does non cognize that he does non cognize whether he is or non. He can non empty himself for slumber because he is non what he is and he is what he is non ” ( Faulkner 46 ) . Darl has entered the mirror phase along with Faulkner, and he is therefore cognizant of the struggles between his ain perceptual experiences and the perceptual experiences of others.Darl is foregrounding the spread between the form and the signified in linguistic communication, as Lacan calls it.
“ Darl is our brother, our brother Darl. Our brother Darl in a coop in Jackson where, his grimed custodies lying visible radiation in the quiet interstices, looking out he foams ” ( Faulkner 146 ) . He has been improbably nonsubjective internally, seeing himself in an omniscient, third-person position, but this is a consequence of the inability to accommodate the existent “ him ” and the “ him ” that others perceive him to be ( the Lacanian form is their Darl, the signified is the existent Darl ) . Therefore, he becomes the best illustration in the novel of a character that, by go throughing through the mirror phase and come ining the Symbolic Realm, alienates himself wholly ( even within himself ) . Darl is besides, so, the most affiliated with Faulkner, since he becomes cognizant of “ the failure of linguistic communication to of all time state what one agency ” ( Duvall and Abadie 39 ) . Darl reflects what his female parent discovered much earlier: “ words are no good ; that words dont of all time fit even what they are seeking to state at ” ( Faulkner 99 ) . Addie besides saw the spread between experience and linguistic communication, which proves Cora ‘s statement that Darl has the most in common with Addie, but her problems are more affiliated with the patriarchality of linguistic communication, and hence non as connected with Faulkner as Darl.
Besides, Addie ‘s decease is another illustration of what Faulkner sees as the futility of attempts to link world and linguistic communication. Likewise, despite Darl ‘s development from the Mirror Stage into the Symbolic Stage, his destiny – committedness to an insane refuge – provides more grounds to turn out that Faulkner saw no manner to forestall these lingual problems from estranging and finally destructing his characters and himself. Therefore, Faulkner is still doubtless a Modernist at this point, every bit good as underdeveloped in the patterned advance of Lacanian development, because he sees no flight from such a destiny at this point. He would state that linguistic communication is a hinderance more than a aid. Darl Masterss linguistic communication internally, but he can non use it in world, therefore demoing thespread between linguistic communication and experience – a modernist thought:aˆ¦the integrity of the image threatens the topic with atomization, and the mirror phase thereby gives rise to an aggressive tenseness between the topic and the image. In order to decide this aggressive tenseness, the kid identifies with the imageaˆ¦ The minute of designation, when the topic assumes its image as its ain, is described by Lacan as a minute of exultation, since it leads to an fanciful sense of masteryaˆ¦however, this exultation may besides be accompanied by a depressive reactionaˆ¦ ( Evans 115 )While Faulkner would non hold known the psychological theories of Lacan, the characters of Quentin and Darl seem to suit the word picture of these issues good. However, these two characters are unable to come to footings with their image.
While the terminal of Quentin ‘s chapter does non stop with his self-destruction, we learn subsequently that he takes his ain life because he foresees no flight. Likewise, Darl ‘s unmanageable laughter at the terminal of As I Lay Diing is his minute in which he has the chance to place with one portion of his disconnected ego but proves unable to make so. Darl ‘s job is besides left unresolved, as his internal ego argues within, demanding an account for his false victory. They are both cognizant of their unstable provinces with linguistic communication. Additionally, the mirror phase is where the topic becomes alienated from itself, and therefore is introduced into the Fanciful order. Clearly both characters have entered this phase and happen themselves wholly alienated from themselves and the universe.Terrell Tebbetts claims that Vernon Tull is the lone character in the novel that can come to footings with this job, fall backing to the changeless usage of “ like ” in his descriptions and an employment of similes while speaking ( Tebbetts 130 ) .
Tebbetts is misled, nevertheless, because Tull is really a Modernist character. By utilizing similes to pull comparings between things he is trying to specify, he is still hold oning for the ideal that Modernists spent their callings seeking to make. Alternatively, a Postmodernist would take advantage of linguistic communication instead than invariably highlight its failures ( as I will discourse subsequently ) . Tebbetts believes that Vernon Tull is Faulkner ‘s manner of stating that the manner out of the job is acceptance, but the solution is more complicated than simple acknowledgment. Besides, characters like Darl, Addie, and Quentin all understood the spread between linguistic communication and world, which drove them to their ain signifiers of disaffection.As I Lay Dying besides features a degree of intended wit that is classified as dark, or black, wit. One of the best illustrations of dark comedy in the novel is when we find Addie Bundren propped up on a pillow in order to watch as Cash constructs her casket.
“ Then [ Addie ] raises herself, who has non moved in 10 daysaˆ¦She is looking out the window, at Cash crouching steadily at the board in the weakness lightaˆ¦He drops the proverb and lifts the board for her to see, watching the window in which the face has non moved ” ( Faulkner 28 ) . This minute evokes immediate laughter because Cash, the oldest kid of the household, seems like a proud pet recovering its gimmick of the twenty-four hours for his maestro. Likewise, everyone sees the grotesque and gaunt figure of Addie rise as if from the dead in order to see her burial chamber and so return to her former place, apparently in blessing. Even more dark comedy prevarications in Faulkner ‘s intended unfavorable judgment of the other characters ‘ positions toward each other. Every character that makes a negative remark about another is subsequently shown to be hypocritical, being unusual and far-out in his or her ain manner.Elementss of Faulkner ‘s early novels, particularly As I Lay Dying, show that the writer was on the route to self-reflexivity and metafiction. Much of the Addie chapter, through its overcritical expression at the failure of linguistic communication, is self-reflexive because it is actively noticing on the words and thoughts presented in the novel, yet the self-aware elements seem merely present through deduction.
Faulkner ne’er reaches his possible ( or becomes to the full cognizant of what he was making ) with the component of self-reflexivity until Absalom, Absalom! and “ Afternoon of a Cow. ” In his novels until so, Faulkner besides had a preoccupation with what Modernists referred to as the effort to “ do it new, ” seeking to experiment with literature and trying things unobserved earlier. He is foremost in the Mirror Stage, looking at the traditional novel with its content, signifier, mimetic doctrine of linguistic communication, and decides that he needs to interrupt from tradition. Then he enters the following phase – the Symbolic — and efforts to make new and modern literature. While in this phase, though, he realizes the futility of linguistic communication, and that everything he attempts fails. Faulkner repeatedly tries to accomplish literary transcendency, but all he writes is simply a symbol of what he genuinely intends. It is non until Absalom, Absalom! that he non merely accepts his province and failure, but he wittingly plays with the postmodern techniques and thoughts.
In the novel, Faulkner uses linguistic communication to make what Lacan says it does – “ reflect the status of the anomic topic, the fractured ego ” ( Moreland 47 ) . Nothing Faulkner efforts attains the literary transcendency for which he has been seeking, and so he realizes this, comes to footings with it, and makes merriment of this job.Faulkner ‘s motion through the Lacanian lingual patterned advance led him prematurely to postmodernism. While he thought he was being modern by experimenting, he was really using many elements that surpassed the kingdom of modernism. As I Lay Diing was his first clear transitional work, in which it marked a route from modern to postmodern literature, as the novel hinges between the two genres itself ( although, as mentioned before, it should be classified as a modern text if it must be categorized. Faulkner resists many of the modernist techniques and doctrines, but his interruption from the motion was non clean, as he continued to scratch them. Patrick O’Donnell agrees with this, aware of the presence of ephemeral texts: “ Yet, there are minutes in the plants of the high-modernist writers I have mentioned that work beyondaˆ¦that tear its bonds ” ( O’Donnell 34 ) .
His illustration from Faulkner is the manner in which some of his novels attempt to shatter the “ connectionaˆ¦between trying to exceed the yesteryear, and being condemned to reiterate it ” ( 34 ) . This battle with the past no longer seems to be an issue one time Faulkner writes Absalom, Absalom! although it had been a focal point of his earlier novel, The Sound and the Fury. O’Donnell agrees that the ulterior plant of William Faulkner present more important interruptions from modernism, proposing that Go Down, Moses is really a postmodern revision of Absalom, Absalom! ( 36 ) . However, Faulkner ‘s work after that became much more conservative, returning to the modernist inclinations which he displayed at the beginning of his calling.Even a speedy reading of Absalom, Absalom! in comparing to Faulkner ‘s early novels reveals big differences between the manners. Much like his presentations of characters in old novels, Faulkner puts elements of himself into his characters ; nevertheless, in this novel, he intentionally employs a self-reflexive concentration in order to make metafiction. It is here that Faulkner stops refering himself with epistemology and alternatively with ontology.
Faulkner operates the text otherwise in Absalom, Absalom! in the manner that he exerts absolute control over every facet of the narrative and creates a commentary on linguistic communication and fiction. O’Donnell refers to Faulkner non as the “ writer ” of the text of Absalom, Absalom! but as “ the unobserved bead that falls into a pool of H2O and gives rise to a series of ripplings, ” borrowing from Quentin ‘s ain words in the novel ( Weinstein 31 ) . In other words, he becomes the accelerator for the things that of course occur. Faulkner puts adequate of himself into the novel that everything he has put into topographic point takes over for him. From this, he no longer stresses or stews over the futility of linguistic communication ; alternatively, he allows it to take over. The metafictional facet of Absalom, Absalom! lies in the alone construction and composing manner. Unlike his old enterprises, Faulkner dares to state a narrative within the narrative – a narrative about storytelling.
The act of stating a narrative is artistic because the storyteller imposes his or her ain will upon it, and it is hence subjective as good. Previously he is incognizant of the subjective nature of linguistic communication, and now he non merely accepts it, but he employs it every bit good ( his primary storyteller has a subjective point of view unlike what he has done antecedently ) . His attack in this fresh allows him to hold merriment with it, therefore accomplishing postmodern position and finishing his Lacanian development.Examples of the metafictional facets in the fresh appear most frequently during the subdivisions concentrating on or narrated by Quentin and Mr. Compson. In chapter four, Mr. Compson tells his boy, “ people excessively as we are, but victims of a different circumstance, simpler and hence, whole number for whole number, larger, more heroic and the figures hence more epic excessively, non dwarfed and involved but distinguishable, uncomplexaˆ¦author and victim excessively of a 1000 homicides and a 1000 copulationsaˆ¦Perhaps you are right.
Possibly any more light than this would be excessively much for it ” ( Faulkner 90 ) . This is possibly the most debatable illustrations of metafiction in the novel because of its focal point. While, so, it involves Mr. Compson noticing on literature through knocking a narrative, it is besides taking a Modernist ‘s position. Faulkner, through Compson, is naming for a return to myth, reasoning that the fabulous narratives of the yesteryear are uncomplex and do non endure from the ambiguity that plagues modern literature. This focal point on the importance of myths is a common concentration of modernist authors, as is the call to utilize these narratives and do them new. Likewise, Compson seems to be suggesting at the significance of this declaration and its symbolism instead than being direct about his point, and deduction is the Modernist ‘s manner of implementing metafiction.
The lone redemptive factor of the address lies in his concluding words, utilizing “ possibly ” to mean his uncertainness, hence offering a postmodern, disbelieving position and rejecting absolute truth.The fact that the characters are actively stating the narrative of Sutpen and noticing on it at the same clip is slightly postmodern, as it is including and pulling attending to the writer within the narrative. There are besides times when the narration from a character goes on for such a long clip that the reader forgets who is stating the narrative, and at this point, the presence of Faulkner as a storyteller begins to go more apparent. It is besides so that remarks such as the address from Mr. Compson take on new and deeper significance, as the reader begins to tie in Faulkner with these thoughts more so than the characters. Another more complicated illustration of metafiction appears once more in chapter four, as Mr. Compson says:We have a few old mouth-to-mouth narratives ; we exhume from old short pantss and boxes and shortss letters without salute or signature, in which work forces and adult females who one time lived and breathed are now simply initials or monikers out of some now inexplicable fondness which sound to us like Sanskrit or Chocktaw ; we see dimly people, the people in whose life blood and seed we ourselves laic dormant and waiting, in this shady fading of clip possessing now epic proportions, executing their actsaˆ¦impervious to clip and incomprehensible.
( Faulkner 102-103 )Faulkner, one time once more through the oral cavity of Mr. Compson, is noticing on the province of literature, but more significantly, the uncertainness that literature creates as it all returns to mythology. As he suggests, we as readers have to recognize that every narrative that is told is simply a representation of another, and each is besides a mere representation of world. This besides gets back to Faulkner ‘s job with linguistic communication – it ne’er says what you want it to intend. However, it seems now that he has arrived at a hole for this jobThe character of Judith, when discoursing the narrative, comments that words are mere abrasions without intending but “ it does n’t count that it is so ” ( Faulkner 131 ) . This differs from the position of earlier novels ‘ characters because Judith both comes to footings with the nonsense of linguistic communication and decides that it is no longer debatable for her. When asked if she wants Miss Rosa to read the missive, Judith answers, “ Yesaˆ¦Or destruct it.
As you like. Read it if you like or dont read it if you like. Because you make so small feeling, you see ” ( Faulkner 130 ) . Clearly Judith recognizes the futility of linguistic communication, but she besides overcomes the job, caring non whether Rosa reads the missive or non, because it will non do much of a difference either manner. Harmonizing to Tebbetts, “ Postmodernists see human efforts to depict and set up truth non merely as futile but even as destructive ” ( Tebbetts 131 ) . In other words, if linguistic communication is purely symbolic, so it can non take us to truth. This comes from a poststructuralist position that truth is a “ transcendent form ” and “ does non be ” ( Lewis 96 ) .
The fresh embraces this, and Faulkner no longer struggles with the uncertainness of linguistic communication. Some critics see the novel as holding a form of uncertainness, which is seeable through its usage of words like “ possibly ” and “ possibly. ” Faulkner had been rejecting this in his earlier novels, but he is eventually encompassing it here.Faulkner besides chooses to use the metafiction to inform the reader about his Lacanian journey with linguistic communication. Lacan says that when the person is able to divide and quash a portion of itself, it enters the symbolic kingdom. The capable becomes cognizant of its absent centre but is driven by desire to make full the nothingness of absence. For Sutpen in Absalom, Absalom! – Falkner ‘s fleeting substitute for the continuance of this narrative – his enlightenment minute occurs in Chapter Seven, when he is turned off at the plantation owner ‘s house ( Duvall and Abadie 47 ) .
Faulkner, looking back on the past, looks at Sutpen in his Mirror Stage and radiances visible radiation on his ain. Before this minute, Quentin says that Sutpen was “ no more witting of his appearanceaˆ¦ or of the possibility that anyone else would be that he was of his tegument ” ( Faulkner 185 ) . At this point, Sutpen has evolved into the Symbolic Stage, merely as Faulkner does in his earlier novels.Faulkner ‘s manner in the novel is more unwritten than literary, and the novel flows through ideas and character duologue that frequently seems like Faulkner himself is orally associating the narrative to his hearers. Critic Conrad Aiken agrees, naming his alone manner “ grossly overelaborate ” and “ grammatically raging ” ( Aiken 135 ) . However, Aiken claims that this proves Faulkner ‘s Modernist run, which is, as proved therefore far, shortsighted since Absalom, Absalom! is the writer ‘s most postmodern book. What he achieves through this manner is the defamiliarization of linguistic communication, film overing the boundaries of literature.
It is these drawn-out, apparently ceaseless sentences in the novel that reflect Faulkner ‘s purposes. Similarly, he besides enacts a maneuver of delayed revelation through this attack, get downing a subdivision of a narrative and suddenly halting to stray onto something else. This manner in which he withholds the points and significance of his sentences, information about characters, and the continuances of half-finished narratives is basically Lacanian.A word picture of Faulkner ‘s novel as either modern or postmodern requires understanding of what it means to be a postmodern piece of fiction. Postmodernist literature is frequently perceived as a reaction to Modernism, which legion writers, poets, and bookmans worried was going progressively excessively conventional and traditional. Likewise, they frequently saw Modernism as an elitist signifier of authorship, since it was normally hard and vague. They cited the many complex literary mentions as a beginning of this, and suggested that Modernism was providing merely to the extremely educated because of these mentions.
Postmodernism, in response, often involves pop cultural mentions, including those to other postmodern plants, popular art, telecasting shows, political relations, well-known historical happenings, and films. Postmodernism is besides frequently jumbled with atomization, but the usage of atomization is much more terrible than in Modernism, as there is sometimes no clear secret plan, characters sometimes seem pointless, the narrative is broken up and baffled ( frequently beyond fix ) . This utmost degree of atomization is frequently used to do the point that literature is frequently more about what is under the surface, and that cognition of a novel ‘s secret plan does non vouch that a reader has gotten all significance from the work. Even Faulkner ‘s daring nature and separation from Modernism does non develop into what postmodern literature is known for.In order to reply the inquiry of where Faulkner falls in the spectrum of modern and postmodern literature, one must turn to scholarship that identifies obvious postmodernism and find if Faulkner lives up to the criterions. Barry Lewis, writer of “ Postmodernism and Literature, ” provides a great description of postmodernism as it applies to literature. He purports that the literature that best falls into this class was written between 1960 and 1990, and that anything earlier is ephemeral ( Lewis 96 ) .
He suggests that the most of import elements of postmodernity are temporal upset, medley, comfortableness with atomization, diarrhea of association, paranoia, barbarous circles, and linguistic communication upset ( 95-105 ) . Likewise, Lewis besides brings Jacques Derrida ‘s construct of drama as a postmodernism technique. Alternatively of the modernist pursuit for intending in a universe of pandemonium, the postmodern writer denies, frequently playfully, the possibility of significance ( 98 ) . As a consequence, the postmodern novel is frequently a lampoon of the modernist pursuit. Within Faulkner ‘s plants, there are elements of each of these features, but they all seem to look faintly and fleetingly. For illustration, temporal upset is overtly obvious in The Sound and the Fury because Faulkner blurs the line between all clip – yesteryear and nowadays are difficult to separate. However, as Lewis would hold, Faulkner does non accomplish the grade of upset associated with postmodernist fiction.
Alternatively of acknowledging that history repetitions itself and that there are definite concrete minutes in clip, Postmodernists instead do all clip obscure and lampoon other plants ‘ compulsion with clip ( 98 ) . Faulkner ‘s Quentin in The Sound and the Fury would hold been really Modernist in this class, since his preoccupation with clip is ultimately portion of what destroys him. However, Absalom, Absalom! removes this concern wholly, being wholly unconcerned about the transition of clip since it does non count. In fact, the novel ‘s construction, invariably switching tenses between present and past of all time so seamlessly, is postmodern. Therefore, some of these postmodern qualities appear in the novel, but others do non.Another of import facet of postmodern literature that Lewis points out is medley, which literally means to unite and glue together multiple elements. “ Pastiche, so, arises from the defeat that everything has been done before.
.. postmodernist authors tend to tweak existing manners higgledy-piggledy from the reservoir of literary history, and fit them with small tact. This explains why many modern-day novels borrow the apparels of different signifiers ” ( Lewis 99 ) . Although there are some critics who suggest that this is portion of Faulkner ‘s repertory, reasoning that he employs this in Absalom, Absalom! at that place does non look to be adequate grounds to turn out that he is actively doing the fresh parodic. Indeed, there are clearly elements within the narrative that suggest that Faulkner had the authoritative Southern Gothic novel in his heard while composing it, such as the concluding conversation between Shreve and Quentin at the terminal: “ ‘Now I want you to state me merely one thing more. Why do you detest the South? ‘ ‘I dont hatred it, ‘ Quentin said, rapidly, at one time, instantly, ‘I dont hatred it ‘ ” ( Faulkner 395 ) .
Quentin, who frequently represents Faulkner, may be quashing something, and it really good could be a shared feeling of Faulkner ; nevertheless, there has non been adequate legitimate grounds or scholarship to turn out this relationship. Therefore, the novel is non a lampoon, which hurts its opportunities at being classified as a postmodern novel.Modernists treat atomization and subjectiveness as experiential crises — a job that must be solved, which their literature efforts to make. Postmodernists, nevertheless, believe that this issue is unsurmountable, and the lone reactionist action that is worthwhile is to “ play ” with the helter-skelter inclinations. In postmodern literature, gaiety becomes the major focal point, therefore doing any order or irrefutable truth extremely improbable. Faulkner, at least in his early plants and Absalom, Absalom! does non look to venture really deep into this gaiety. Indeed, there is decidedly a presence of this in Absalom, Absalom! but it ne’er reaches the extremeness that other major postmodern plants achieve.
Compared to a work like Kurt Vonnegut ‘s Slaughterhouse-Five, Faulkner ‘s fiction does non stand up in footings of where it falls on the modern/postmodern graduated table. The first chapter of Vonnegut ‘s book begins by stating, “ All this happened, more or less… I ‘ve changed all the names. I truly did travel back to Dresden..
. I went back at that place with an old war brother, Bernardaˆ¦ ” ( Vonnegut 1 ) . The writer blurs the line between where his influence terminals and where the storyteller ( who is, in other words, understood to be separate from the writer ) begins. The first chapter seems more like a foreword by the writer, or a ulterior remark on his novel that should come after the text ; alternatively, Vonnegut ‘s first class of action is to put himself up as both the writer and storyteller. It is clearly postmodern because he is forthright about it alternatively of connoting the bleary line. “ I would detest to state you what this icky small book cost me in money and anxiousness and clip. When I got place.
.. I thought it would be easy for me to compose… and I thought, excessively, that it would be a chef-d’oeuvre or at least do me a batch of money, since the topic was so large ” ( Vonnegut 2-3 ) . The reader is cognizant of the fact that the storyteller is besides the author, and that the author is speaking about the procedure of authorship: this is, doubtless, one of the best illustrations of playfully postmodern metafiction around, and Faulkner ‘s degree of metafiction does non even compare.
John Barth, another well-known postmodernist novelist, published an essay in 1979 entitled “ Literature of Replenishment, ” which was meant as a response to his earlier essay, “ Literature of Exhaustion. ” The “ Replenishment ” that Barth refers to is postmodern literature, since he was naming for an inspection and repair of Modernism in his earliest essay. In “ Literature of Replenishment ” Barth says,My ideal Postmodernist writer neither simply repudiates nor simply imitates either his twentieth-century Modernist parents or his nineteenth-century premodernist grandparents. He has the first half of our century under his belt, but non on his dorsum. Without sinking into moral or artistic oversimplification, cheapjack workmanship, Madison Avenue venality, or either false or existent naivete , he however aspires to a fiction more democratic in its entreaty than such late-Modernist wonders as Beckett ‘s Texts for Nothing…
The ideal Postmodernist novel will somehow lift above the wrangle between pragmatism and irrealism, formalism and ‘contentism, ‘ pure and committed literature, coterie fiction and debris fiction… ( Barth 22 )Barth sets the criterion for what postmodern literature needs to carry through, every bit good as how it should be written. Vonnegut ‘s Slaughterhouse-Five meets all of these demands, while nil of Faulkner ‘s can compare.While Absalom, Absalom! boasts many features that make the novel appear postmodern, it still seems to hold excessively small in common with the clear postmodern plants of recent old ages. As with every other literary motion, Modernism met its extremum someplace in the center of its clip and began a diminution in the last few old ages of its prominence.
Somewhere in between the autumn of Modernism and the rise of Postmodernism lies Faulkner. One of his commonly overlooked short narratives, “ Afternoon of a Cow, ” appears to be his most postmodern piece, and it is his last flirting with the postmodern daring before returning to a more conservative, overtly modern manner of composing in the waning old ages of his calling. “ Afternoon of a Cow ” is the definition of Faulkner ‘s self-reflexivity, and it is every bit postmodern as the writer gets since it achieves its metafiction through open description and commentary instead than deduction. Likewise, the narrative is a self-parody. Written under a anonym, the short narrative takes a bantering attack to Faulkner ‘s manner in his old novels. Faulkner himself is the chief character, though the storyteller is Ernest V. Trueblood: the purported writer of the narrative every bit good, and the individual whom Faulkner pretends to be his shade author.
Much in the mode of a postmodernist writer, Faulkner plays with this piece of fiction to notice on the narrative within a narrative – the narrative about his literature and how he ( Faulkner ) views his past achievements.Ernest V. Trueblood, clearly an fanciful character, even though Faulkner purports that he is the existent shade author of his past novels, tells the narrative but focuses prevalently on William Faulkner as a character, so much that the compulsion becomes inordinate. However, it becomes obvious once the reader recognizes that Faulkner is the existent creative person that the map of this preoccupation is for Faulkner the author to be overcritical of himself and his authorship from an foreigner ‘s point of position. In the narrative, Trueblood explains that every twenty-four hours Mr. Faulkner “ informs him what to compose ” and Trueblood adapts Mr. Faulkner ‘s narratives into recognizable pieces of fiction ( Faulkner 421 ) .
This, if true, would account for the unwritten construction of novels such as Absalom, Absalom! Besides, the character may be a lampoon of characters in Absalom, Absalom! who express a captivation with lineages, sing that the storyteller ‘s name is “ Trueblood. ”As mentioned earlier, the alleged separation between Faulkner and Trueblood allows for a metafiction: “ aˆ¦with the exclusion of myself, whose pattern and belief it has ne’er been to name any animal, adult male, adult female, kid or least, out of its rightful name – merely as I permit no 1 to name me out of mine, though I am cognizant that behind my back bothaˆ¦refer to me as Ernest be Toogoodaˆ¦ ” ( Faulkner 421 ) . Since Faulkner claims that Trueblood is his shade author, he therefore represents the writer side of himself. His remark about ne’er mentioning to anyone with its rightful name suggests that anything he has of all time written about has been a world at one clip, adapted into fiction with the names altered ( film overing the lines of world and imaginativeness ) . Faulkner is besides placing for the reader the manner in which his existent individuality ever seemed to be different than his composing individuality. He is clearly being self-reflexive, looking back on himself in add-on to his authorship. Likewise, Trueblood is repeatedly extremely critical of Mr.
Faulkner, stating on multiple occasions that he is “ violently sedentary ” and normally expresses a “ unenrgetic wit ” ( Faulkner 427 ) . The storyteller besides calls him out for other features, but these are evidently unfavorable judgments of Faulkner ‘s authorship manner, hence in world being self-reflexive approximately himself as an writer. When the cow empties its vesica and bowels onto Faulkner, the temper and manner of the narrative instantly alterations, as does the tone of Mr. Faulkner ‘s actions. The narrative ends with Faulkner depriving in the stallss and rinsing himself, after which Trueblood comments that the existent and soft Mr. Faulkner has retreated once more and the violent and inactive personality has returned. The cow ‘s laxation of the writer is what brings out the “ existent ” Faulkner, which is a blending of Trueblood and Mr.
Faulkner – a quiet and philosophical being that is the writer in his basest signifier. When the original Mr. Faulkner returns, though, he one time once more becomes the foolhardy failure that he tried to soak off to society in interviews and friendly relationships as his “ existent ” ego.Much of the wit in the narrative is a postmodern black wit, since it focuses on a cow ‘s laxation onto Mr. Faulkner. It besides lies in the beautiful and flowery descriptions that Trueblood utilizations, which are extremely dry sing the disgusting subject. “ The storyaˆ¦is a barnyard gag, but he tells it in a entirely inappropriate manner, as if it were the material of high love affair ” ( Grimwood 5 ) .
Likewise, many of the descriptions and words that Trueblood uses seem as if they were taken right from Absalom, Absalom! : “ The wit is intensified for those who recognize that such a transition is non at all foreigner to William Faulkner ‘s ain manner ” ( Volpe 222 ) . The writer is clearly cognizant of the verbal maze that his last novel had been, and so this short narrative can be see a lampoon of that manner. In fact, as Grimwood points out, Faulkner was composing “ Afternoon of a Cow ” at the same clip that he was completing Absalom, Absalom! ( Grimwood 4 ) . After a meeting for dinner one clip, Faulkner gave his friend a transcript of both “ Afternoon of a Cow ” and Absalom, Absalom! stating him that they were the complete plants of Trueblood and that they must be read together. Of class, the two plants of fiction were non written by anyone besides Faulkner, and he merely said this to divide them from his earlier texts and to affect upon his reader that they are meant to be coupled, the short narrative noticing on the novel. “ Ernest V. Trueblood ‘s manner exhibits the rhetorical extremism we associate with William Faulkner ” ( Grimwood 7 ) .
The narrative is an auctorial dissection of his individuality as an writer, peculiarly the 1 in whose position the novel is told.“ Afternoon of a Cow ” decidedly seems to be an early postmodernist work, but even if it is, one work out of many does non do him a postmodernist. As Terrell Tebbetts makes clear in the first line of his essay, Faulkner was non a postmodernist, and he did non go a postmodernist either ; nevertheless, his motion through Lacan ‘s lingual patterned advance led him prematurely to postmodernism ( Tebbetts 125 ) . While Faulkner thought he was really being “ modern ” by experimenting with literature, he was genuinely exceling the kingdom of the Modernists. As I Lay Diing was basically his first transitional novel in which he began this clear way from modernism to postmodernism, as the novel hinges between the two genres. Absalom, Absalom! and “ Afternoon of a Cow ” were his most postmodern pieces, though they, excessively, simply hit the outer shell of this literary class. I besides think his rejection of what we consider “ pop civilization ” undercuts the statement that he is postmodernist, given that he follows more so the modern position here.
Numerous facets of his composing reject elements of modernism, but they besides frequently employ and embrace these same elements at times. Even though Faulkner managed do it to postmodernism even before it was developed and characterized, he failed to interrupt the ceiling by returning to his old methods of composing. Likewise, Faulkner ‘s fiction abides by Lacan ‘s phases of lingual development, and even though he develops as an writer and critic of linguistic communication merely as a kid grows and matures, he merely briefly trades with the attacks to linguistic communication after germinating into the Symbolic and Imaginary phases. Any critic who defines William Faulkner as a postmodernist is misled and clearly non well-read in Faulkner ‘s repertory ; on the other manus, critics who call him a modernist should see reviewing his literature through a postmodern lens, since they will detect, as I have, that William Faulkner is one of those rare ephemeral authors of the 20th century.