William Faulkner: Self-Presentation and Performance

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University of Texas Press, 2000 - Literary Criticism - 255 pages
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.
 

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William Faulkner: self-presentation and performance

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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 ... Read full review

Contents

I SelfPresentation and Performance
II Photographs Letters and Fictions
15
III Marriage Matters
67
IV Whos Your Old Man?
100
V Stage Manager
133
VI Old Moster
169
Notes
206
Works Cited
232
Index
242
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Page 7 - the beautiful, the splendid, the proud and the brave, right on up to the very top itself among the shining phantoms and dreams which are the milestones of the long human recording—Helen and the bishops, the kings and the unhomed angels, the scornful and graceless seraphim
Page 5 - the congregation seemed to watch with its own eyes while the voice consumed him, until he was nothing and they were nothing and there was not even a voice but instead their hearts were speaking to one another in chanting measures beyond the need for words
Page 5 - when he came to rest against the reading desk, his monkey face lifted and his whole attitude that of a serene, tortured crucifix that transcended its shabbiness and insignificance and made it of no moment, a long moaning expulsion of breath rose from them, and a woman's

About the author (2000)

Watson is professor of English at the University of Tulsa.

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