Myth, history, explanation, and the problem of time in the fiction of William Faulkner : with special reference to Absalom, Absalom! and Go down, Moses


Germundson, Leslie Karen




Faulkner did not agree that time is the extinction of successive moments. He believed that the existence of the past has to be acknowledged. In Absalom, Absalom! he portrays four varieties of the past coexisting with the present. The Sutpen history takes on a concrete form, temporally in the mind, in three ways: in the memories of Miss Rosa and General Compson, in the myths created by Jefferson, and in the putative versions invented by Mr. Compson, Shreve, and Quentin. Revising Absalom, Absalom! Faulkner perceived that mythology belonged to a realm outside of both time and the mind. He portrayed a fourth variety of the past by projecting the Sutpen story into eternity where putative notions and mythologized accounts of the family history are actualized. Faulkner wrote Go Down, Moses from this new perspective, projecting Yoknapatawpha into eternity where it could be explained by myth without tension between fact and truth.




Carleton University

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