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Lhoffman
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« Reply #465 on: August 31, 2007, 12:14:05 AM »

Faulkner/Sutpen and the Land....It has to be more than that because the "design" couldn't be complete until Sutpen had sons.  That is the meaning of the title, "Absalom, Absalom," in reference to the biblical king David who was done in by his having too many sons, that is the meaning of the insult offered Rosa that caused her to flee Sutpen's Hundred and go about dressed in bitterness, that is the reason for Wash's murder of his granddaughter and great grand-daughter and Sutpen.   Wash didn't kill Sutpen because of his treatment of Millie; he killed him because his siring of a girlchild made Sutpen more human/equal to Wash.  (Wash saw for the first time that Sutpen was only an old man, like himself.)

Sutpen's true sin was that of hubris.  Follow Faulkner's development of  Thomas Sutpen and Wash in the earlier stories, "The Big Shot," "Evangeline" and "Wash."   (Uncollected Stories) The idea is that regular men content themselves with girlchildren, but the aristocracy gives birth to sons, orchestrates grand "designs, founds dynasties. 

Quentin comments along the lines of it taking Shreve and Quentin to make father, but that perhaps Sutpen made them all.  The idea being:  the father makes the son makes the father....but in this case, as in the case of the biblical Absalom, the sons unmake the father.

Quote
There are other ways to build a Dynasty...you don't really need sons
.

Faulkner's dynasty may have been built of books, but for Sutpen, Compson and company, daughters are seen only as bargaining chips and breeders.  Interesting how Sutpen never claims Clytie, eh?




 
« Last Edit: August 31, 2007, 12:30:31 AM by Lhoffman » Logged
pugetopolis
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« Reply #466 on: August 31, 2007, 12:30:42 AM »

Follow Faulkner's development of  Thomas Sutpen and Wash in the earlier stories, "The Big Shot," "Evangeline" and "Wash."   (Uncollected Stories) 

Let me read "The Big Shot," "Evangeline" and "Wash" tonight. Then, I'll get back to you tomorrow.

Thank you for an excellent discussion today. It's nice to be back in the book mode again.

It's been awhile...  Smiley
« Last Edit: September 02, 2007, 10:04:48 PM by pugetopolis » Logged

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« Reply #467 on: August 31, 2007, 12:49:58 AM »

Yes....thank you.  Great discussion. 

(I misremembered the source for "Wash."  A double check shows it in Collected Stories p535 Vintage)

(Pugetopolis....Also, I sent you a reply to your comment on identity in Pandora's Box on my fake blog....not sure I should link the real one here.  Thought you might enjoy the twist of Jack the Ripper as savior.)

http://laurieh12.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #468 on: August 31, 2007, 03:50:53 AM »

“There was nothing he could do with his money save give it away, you see. That’s our American tragedy: we have to give away so much of our money, and there’s nobody to give it to save the poets and painters. ANd if we gave it to them, they would probably stop being poets and painters.”—William Faulkner, “The Big Shot,” Uncollected Stories, New York: Vintage, 1979, 504-505.
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« Reply #469 on: August 31, 2007, 11:34:30 AM »

Nice thing about those stories, you can almost see Faulkner's mind working, particularly in Evangeline. 

There is a little something of Sutpen's early experience in Barn Burning, when the boy Snopes is turned away from the big house.  In both cases, doors almost serve as portals, the denial of entry opens a passage to a transformative experience.

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pugetopolis
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« Reply #470 on: August 31, 2007, 04:26:20 PM »

...doors almost serve as portals, the denial of entry opens a passage to a transformative experience.

Yes, the same with Martin in "The Big Shot."

The story told by Don Reeves on the Sentinel. About Popeye running over his own daughter while doing a booze run to Martin's place. Martin always bailing out Popeye...and Govelli the cop playing along. Popeye gets away with murder and all sorts of things:

"...a slight man with a dead face and dead black hair and eyes and a delicate hooked little nose and no chin, crouching snarling behind the neat blue automatic." (TBS, 504).

But the story is really about Martin:

"He was born and raised on a Mississippi farm. Tenant-farmer--you know: barefoot, the whole family, nine months in the year...Anyway the boss came to the door himself..."Don't you ever come to my front door again...When you come here you go around to the kitchen door..." (TBS, 507-508)

The story seems to be about class-consciousness down South: the big shots. Popeye and the "boss." With the tenant farmers and blacks under their thumb. The rejection at the door trope seems to be a recurring thing with Faulkner. Many rejections in his life: like being rejected by the parents of Estelle for not being good enough to marry her, etc.

Sutpen rejected at the front door back in Virginia...




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« Reply #471 on: August 31, 2007, 05:37:01 PM »

Interesting to note that Sutpen never claimed Clytie as his daughter.

Q. "Did [Sutpen] acknowledge Clytemnestra as his daughter?"

A. "No. Well, that would not have mattered because Clytemnestra was a female. The important thing to him was he should establish a line of dukes, you see. He was going to created a dukedom. He'd have to have a male descendant. He would have to establish a dukedom which would be his revenge on the white Virginian who told him to go to the back door. And so he--to have a Negro, half-Negro, for his son would have wrecked the the whole dream. If he couldn't--if he had thought that that would ever be exposed that Bon was his son, he may have killed bon himself. If he had ever come to that point, he would have destroyed Bon jusst as he would have destroyed any other individual who got in his way."

--Faulkner in the University, Frederick Gwynn and Joseph Blotner, ed, Charlottsville: University Press of Virginia, 1995, 272


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« Reply #472 on: August 31, 2007, 05:42:20 PM »

Q. "Did you find Absalom, Absalom a very difficult novel to write?"

A. "Yes, it was difficult. I worked on that next hardest to The sound and the Fury, as i remember. Yes, I worked on that for a year and then put it away and wrote another book, and then the story still wouldn't let me alone and I came back to it. yeas, that was very difficult. There was a lot of rewriting in that."

--Faulkner in the University, Frederick Gwynn and Joseph Blotner, ed, Charlottsville: University Press of Virginia, 1995, 281
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« Reply #473 on: August 31, 2007, 05:53:46 PM »

Q. "Mr. Faulkner, in Absalom, Absalom when Shreve and Quentin are reconstructing the story for each other, they set up a lawyer who was directing the campaign of Charles's mother to gain revenge against Sutpen. Was there really any lawyer, do you think, or is it just a product of their imagination as they reconstructed the story?"

A. "I'm sorry, i don't remember that."

Q. "They speak about the man who was counseling Charles's mother in trying to get back at Sutpen."

A. "There probably was a lawyer. I don't remember that book, but yes, yes, there was a lawyer. That sounds too logical in Mississippi terms. Yes, he was--there was a lawyer there..."

--Faulkner in the University, Frederick Gwynn and Joseph Blotner, ed, Charlottsville: University Press of Virginia, 1995, 77
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« Reply #474 on: August 31, 2007, 05:59:32 PM »

Q. "How much of the story of Absalom, Absalom is reconstructed by Shreve and Quentin? How does the reader know which to accept as objective truth and which to consider just a [reflection] of their personalities?"

A. "Well, the story was told by Quentin to Shreve. Shreve was the commentator that held the thing to something of reality. If Quentin had been let alone to tell it, it would have become completely unreal. It had to have a solvent to keep it real, keep it believable, creditable, otherwise it would have vanished into smoke and fury..."

--Faulkner in the University, Frederick Gwynn and Joseph Blotner, ed, Charlottsville: University Press of Virginia, 1995, 75
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« Reply #475 on: August 31, 2007, 06:08:54 PM »

Q. "Sir, can you tell us where Sutpen acquired his money...? First he came back with the architect and all his--all the Negroes or sort of creatures that he had, and built his house, and then later on came back with the furniture."

A. "He very likely looted his Caribbean father-in-law's plantation when he married the daughter. I don't know that I ever decided myself just how he did it but very likely he looted and wrecked the whole place, took the girl because he didn't want her especially, he wanted a son, he wanted to establish his dynasty. And I imagine that he got that money to the States and then had to hide it here and there. There were no banks in those days, no safe place to put it. Probably was gold, something that was intrinsic of itself, and he would go off whenever he had buried it and dig up a little more when he needed it."

--Faulkner in the University, Frederick Gwynn and Joseph Blotner, ed, Charlottsville: University Press of Virginia, 1995, 46-47
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« Reply #476 on: August 31, 2007, 06:15:05 PM »


Q. "Who is the central character in Absalom, Absalom? It seems so obviously to be Sutpen, yet it's been said that it's also the story of Quentin, and I was wondering just who is the central character?"

A. "The central character is Sutpen, yes. The story of a man who wanted a son and got too many, got so many that they destroyed him. It's incidentally the story of Quentin Compson's hatred of the bad qualities in the country he loves. But the central character is Sutpen, the story of a man who wanted sons."

--Faulkner in the University, Frederick Gwynn and Joseph Blotner, ed, Charlottsville: University Press of Virginia, 1995, 71
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« Reply #477 on: August 31, 2007, 06:25:58 PM »

Well, there--that's enough of that...

What I like about Faulkner in the University is that the undergraduate and graduate questions as well as Faulkner's answers are short and to the point.

Nothing like hearing it from the horse's mouth--rather than the circumloqutious, meandering, divagating minds of astute literary critics...

With Faulkner in the University, the reader can look up a novel or short story in the index and go directly to a short succinct Q & A dialog between the author and the student.
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« Reply #478 on: August 31, 2007, 08:00:58 PM »

Faulkner in the University sounds like a great resource.  It's funny that Faulknker forgets details.  He goes to all the trouble of creating a map of his county, a specific geographical boundary, population.  His space is "real" but it seems that instead of becoming "real" for Faulkner, his characters take on a life all their own. 

But as to the lawyer....we don't know that he actually existed outside of Quentin and Shreve's speculation.   They could have been right, but just as easily, they could have guessed wrong. 

The lawyer is interesting because if there was a lawyer, and if Bon's mother plotted the whole thing, then Sutpen threw it all away when he gave over to fate.  If there was no lawyer, no plotting, then Sutpen did have a chance to fulfull his grand design.  But if there was no lawyer, no plot, then the story takes on a supernatural element and fate has quite the role to play.

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Lhoffman
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« Reply #479 on: August 31, 2007, 08:21:59 PM »

Here's one I just found on-line from Faulkner in the University.

(On his characters)
“Once these people come to life, . . . they take off and so the writer is going at a dead run behind them trying to put down what they say and do in time. . . . They have taken charge of the story.  They tell it from then on.” 
Faulkner in the University, 120

One wonders if author's minds sometimes take on the character of an insane asylum...inmates running the show. 

This is great fun:

http://www.semo.edu/cfs/faulkneria/quotes.htm

And here's the man himself....

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