Thursday, August 04, 2011

Sartre on Faulkner

Jean-Paul Sartre on William Faulkner, 1952:

This "man" we discover - in Light in August - I think of the "man" of Faulkner in the same way that one thinks of the "man" of Dostoevsky or of Meredith - this divine animal who lives without God, lost from the moment of his birth, and intent on destroying himself; cruel, moral even in murder; then miraculously saved, neither by death nor in death, but in the final moments which precede death; heroic in torment, in the most abject humiliations of the flesh: I had accepted him without reservations. I had never forgotten his proud and threatening face, his blinded eyes. I found him again in Sartoris. I recognized the "somber arrogance" of Bayard. Yet I can no longer accept the "man" of Faulkner: he is an illusion. Just a matter of lighting. There is a certain formula: it consists in not telling, remaining hidden, dishonestly secretive, - telling a little.

Hmm, I think there's something in that. I'm reading my way through Faulkner slowly - he's not a writer you can read quickly, after all, and I'm finding it very rewarding. But, equally, I'm finding the fierce pull of blood is just as often a push of blood.

And, a propos another writer, for "the man" read "the kid".

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