Monday, April 22, 2013

First View of Yoknapatawpha

by William Faulkner

“[…] the end of wisdom is to dream high enough not to lose the dream in the seeking of it.”  Faulkner, Sartoris, Part I, ch. 2

Sartoris is the first novel Faulkner located in Yoknapatawpha County where he would go on to set fourteen more novels. In it he introduces the Sartoris family but the Snopes are also present in this early novel. It seems that he began to find his own voice in this novel, improving over his two earlier offerings (Soldiers' Pay and Mosquitoes).

He tells the story of a Southern family of the 'romantic' type, exhibiting chivalry and courage in a haughty and sometimes vain style. Bayard the younger, his grandfather is also a Bayard, comes home after the Great War and succeeds in demonstrating a recklessness that is more in tune with the times than traditional Sartoris family life is comfortable with. Thus there is the tension between tradition and modernity that permeates the novel. Faulkner's inimitable prose style is beginning to emerge and there are paragraphs of pure poetry in prose. Though not so many as would appear in works following. The combination of story and soul, action and intimations of the future provides a satisfying introduction to the South as seen from a porch in Yoknapatawpha County.

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