Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Boy and Man

Intruder in the Dust

I look forward to rereading Faulkner, even when the book is not one of his very best. Intruder in the Dust, his fourteenth novel, is a good introduction to Faulkner's inimitable "stream of consciousness" style. The story is fairly straightforward although with Faulkner the narrative is never simple and you have to pay close attention to get all the details.
Intruder is particularly good when focusing on the character and psychology of young Chick Mallison, the protagonist and sometimes narrator of the story. We see his growth through his confrontation with the black farmer Lucas Beauchamp and his subsequent actions in Lucas's behalf. And we experience the tension in the small town as Lucas is wrongfully accused of murder. As always there were moments of shear poetry that took my breath away with their power and beauty. Intruder was written as Faulkner's response as a Southern writer to the racial problems facing the South. In his Selected Letters, Faulkner wrote: "the premise being that the white people in the south, before the North or the Govt. or anybody else owe and must pay a responsibility to the negro".
The characters include a spinster, Miss Habersham (shades of Dickens) and a young black boy, Aleck Sander, along with Chick's uncle Gavin Stevens. Some of the characters had previously appeared in
Go Down, Moses and The Hamlet. I enjoyed rereading this Faulkner novel and found that, as with all of his oeuvre, I continued to learn more about Faulkner's special fictional world.

Intruder in the Dust by William Faulkner. Random House, New York. 1948.

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