A READER'S GUIDE TO WILLIAM FAULKNER by Edmond L. Volpe

A READER'S GUIDE TO WILLIAM FAULKNER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

(YA) The Reader's Guide series has always been uneven; some were dreadful (e.g. the Yeats), some were brilliant (e.g. Eliot and Dylan Thomas). The latest, a room by room tour of the house that Faulkner built stands somewhere in the middle. However it eschews the fancier profundities in which almost all American critics have indulged, and its straightforward, unargumentative and appreciative manner attempts no particular overall thesis other than to regard the Faulkner canon as ""a spiritual autobiography."" Also, at achieves its aim: ""a guideline through the complexities of technique and style"" to reveal Faulkner's art, scope and vision. In other words, it is comprehensive and concise, conservative rather than controversial. Professor Volpe is most valuable in his long paraphrasings of plot and thematic structure, which most Faulknerians pass over or confuse, and in his delineating of aesthetic and quasi-philosophical influences, such as that of The Waste Land. Indeed, the Yoknapatwapha group, with its landed gentry, bumpkins and Negroes, encompasses much of the earlier Eliot: The breakdown of values, aristocratic impotence vs. primitivistic naturalness, commercialism triumphing over civilization, etc. The concluding section presents a chronology of events and scene shifts of the most recalcitrant of the 19 novels discussed-- an undertaking painstaking and precise enough to make the book a much ought after college item.

Pub Date: July 27th, 1964
Publisher: arrar, Straus & Co.