Date of Award
Senior Scholars Paper (Colby Access Only)
Colby College. English Dept.
Alice P. Comparetti
Alfred K. Chapman
Harold B Raymond
After The Nobel Prize Speech which William Faulkner delivered in 1951, the American public claimed a new artist, though Faulkner had been a contributor to American literature for any years prior. Here was the writer who spoke in affirmation of life as he said that man would not only endure but would also prevail; this attention to and belief in man earned him the title of humanist. With the publication of A Fable in 1954 he gained another epithet, that of a Christian, for in this novel it became clear that Faulkner was drawing upon the Christian tradition for certain of his values and ideals as well as for his structural framework. This indeed appeared a new figure in contemporary writing to the public who had thus far disregarded or denounced Faulkner for what was termed a pessimistic and despairing attitude toward man and at times a blasphemy and profanation of religion. Many critics have been engaged in an attempt to relate the "old" Faulkner to the "new" - some citing a dramatic change in point of view but others penetrating more deeply and discovering similarities between the two periods. The pattern of FauIkner's work is characterized, I believe, by growth and development of such a nature as to place A Fable and The Bear, which are closely allied in tone and meaning, at the ultimate end of something that was begun in Faulkner's earliest work. In these later novels there is never a contradiction or reversal of the author's thought as seen previously, only the addition of new ideas as would appear natural in the course of a progression. This paper which is designed as an interpretation of Faulkner's moral philosophy in the light of the entire body of Faulkner's writings, involves what I feel to be relevant analyses of the five novels which are most central to the issue. I have chosen to present these according to an early and late period grouping, disregarding, however, the chronological sequence of the first period. This would seem justifiable in view of the fact that Faulkner's philosophical development cannot be pinned down to a specific year by year advancement. I have offered Absalom, Absalom (1936) first, As I Lay Dying (1930) second, and The Sound and The Fury (1929) third, for the sake of most clearly and logically indicating his progression in moral attitude and belief. The key to an insight into the whole of Faulkner I have seen primarily in terms of three factors: the dramatic protagonists, an attitude toward nature seen in part in terms of the nature imagery, and finally his use of symbols, particularly those of Biblical relevancy.
William Faulkner, A Fable, The Bear
Recommended CitationVogt, Kathleen M., "A Critical Commentary on the Philosophical Development of William Faulkner" (1956). Senior Scholar Papers. Paper 521.
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