The Cambridge Companion To William Faulkner

Philip M. Weinstein, Swarthmore College

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Abstract

This collection of essays explores key dimensions of Faulkner's widespread cultural import. Drawing on a wide range of cultural theory, ten major Faulkner scholars examine closely the enduring whole of Faulkner's oeuvre in clearly written and intellectually provocative essays. Bringing into focus the broader cultural contexts that give his work its resonance, the collection will be particularly useful for the student seeking a critical introduction to Faulkner, while serving also the dedicated scholar interested in discerning recent trends in Faulkner criticism. Together, these essays map Faulkner's present-day meaning by exploring his relations to modernism and postmodernism, to twentieth-century mass culture, to European and Latin American fiction, to issues of gender difference, and, above all, to the conflicted scene of U.S. race relations. Neither assuming in advance his literary "greatness" nor insisting that his canonical status be revoked, the essays ask instead, What is at stake, today, in reading Faulkner? What company does he keep? In what ways does his work intersect with current debates on race and gender? How does his practice respond to today's questions about the individual subject's insertion within broader cultural activities? Why, in short, should we read him now?