ON THE PREJUDICES, PREDILECTIONS, AND FIRM BELIEFS OF WILLIAM FAULKNER by Cleanth Brooks

ON THE PREJUDICES, PREDILECTIONS, AND FIRM BELIEFS OF WILLIAM FAULKNER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A potpourri collection of essays and speeches by Southern Agrarian and New Critic Brooks (Understanding Poetry, with Robert Penn Warren; The Yoknapatawpha Country, 1963) that covers mostly moribund ground: sometimes briskly, sometimes affectedly, and almost always with one eye on Faulkner and the other on time-worn literary controversies of the 1930's and 40's. Brooks clearly has a genuine love of Faulkner; even while arguing the old question of whether Agrarian-critic pals Alan Tate and Donald Davidson treated Faulkner fairly in the late 1920's, Brooks takes a rest from gossip and thin polemics to admire a particularly beautiful passage in Light in August. Elsewhere, although Brooks repeats themes he and others have written about before, he conveys delight in making fresh connections among the great stories and novels: between Horace Benbow in Sartoris and Sanctuary and Gavin Stevens (""the voice of the community"") in Intruder in the Dust and The Town; between Judith Sutpen's stoicism and Joanna Burden's lonely, mawkish self-despair; between the quiet defiance of Miss Emily in ""A Rose For. . ."" and the manic rebellion of characters like Joe Christmas and Rev. Gail Hightower in Light in August. In by far the best, most timely essay here, ""Faulkner and the American Dream,"" Brooks finally leaves entirely behind waspish anecdotes and self-defense to celebrate Faulkner's vision of a freer, proud, more Jeffersonian America as delineated in a series of Life magazine essays in the early 50's: lovely. All told, however, primarily for Faulkner fans and scholars.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1987
ISBN: 0807128694
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ. Press