As others read us: American fiction abroad; William Faulkner, part two
I don't want to think this I must not think this I dare not think this. As he sits in the window leaning forward above his motionless head sweat begins to pour from him springing out like blood and pouring out of the instant the scent clutch wheel of thinking turns on with the slowing flake ability of the medieval torture henchmen beneath the wrenched and broken sockets of his spirit his life. Then if this is so. If I am the instrument of her despair and death then I am in turn instrument of someone outside myself and I know that for fifty years I have not even dent clay. I have been a single instant of darkness in which a horse galloped on a gun crashed and if I am dead my dead grandfather on the instant of his death then my wife his grandson Weiss the debauchery and murder of my grandson's wife since I could neither let my grandson live nor die. The wheel release seems to rush on with a long sighing sound. He sits motionless and it's aftermath and he's cooling sweat while the sweat pours and pours the wheel
alone. It has gone fast and smooth now because it is free now burden of vehicle axle all in the laminate suspension of all those into which Knight is about to fully calm it seems to engender and surround herself with a faint glow like a halo The halo is full of faces the faces not shape of suffering that shape with a thing not horrible pain or even reproach. They are peaceful as though they have a stake into an apathy as is his own fears among them. In fact they all look a little like a composite of all the faces which he has ever seen. But he can distinguish them one from another. His Weiss townspeople are members of that congregation which had an ally of him which had met him at the station that day with eagerness and hunger. Byron bunch is the woman with the child and that of the man called Christmas. This face alone is not clear. It is confused more than any other as there are in the now peaceful throes of the more recent and more inextricable comp positiveness. Then he can see it that it is two faces which seem to strive but not of themselves striving or desiring it.
He knows that the cause of the motion and desire to please itself in turn to free themselves one from the other then fade and blend again but he has seen Now the other face the one that is not Christmas why it's he thinks I've seen it recently flights that boy with that black pistol automatic They call him the one who into the kitchen fire killed who fired the. Then it seems to him that some ultimate dam flood within him breaks and rushes away. He seems to watch it feeling himself losing contact with the lighter and lighter empty floating and dying he thinks I should pray I should try to pray but he does not he does not try with all at all heaven filled with the lost and on heaving crying of all the living who have lived waiting and still like lost children among the cold and terrible stars. I was so little I asked so little it would seem that the wheel time zone it spends now fading without progress as though turned by that final
flood which had rushed out of him leaving his body empty and lighter than a forgotten Lee and even more trivial than flotsam lying spent and still upon the WONDER LIST which has no saluted beneath his hand that had no weight it is of the old they had merely waited until he could find something to pad with to be reaffirmed in trial and desire with with his last left of honor and pride in life he has above his heart the thunder increased myriad and drumming like a long sighing a wind in trees it begins. Then they sweep into sight borne now upon a cloud of Phantom Dust. They rush past forward leaning in the saddle with a brandished Albany whipping ribbons from Snagit and Eagle lances with two mote and soundest yelling they sweep past like a tide whose crest is jagged with the wild heads of horses and the branches arms of the men like the cradle the word an explosion. They rush past are gone. The dust swirled skyward sucking fades away into the night which has fully
calm yet leaning forward in the window his bandaged head huge without depth upon the twin blobs of his hand upon the ledge. It seemed to him that he still hears them the wild bugle and the clashing sabers and the dying thunder of who. Now here is a wonderful passage and I think it does exemplify one of the points I made before. We have an instance here of that crushing presence of the Marion character that presence which forces itself upon the reader. I see magic magic spell a spell so to speak and the reader can't escape it. He's caught in it instead of being only a detached observer as in the classical novel. Another point which I could make here of course is. The destruction of educator edition which is very interesting to the European readers and especially the European critics who became interested in Faulkner. Many of these people feel of course that as Europeans they themselves
are still condition bound caught in a tradition which is old and which is dying but which refuses to die. And here in Faulkner of course we see many examples of people who are crushed by race for the Asian character Hightower is especially interesting in this respect I think because he goes beyond what some of his critics have said in Hightower there is equality of knowledge of knowledge of the destructive value of that tradition at the moment of his death which makes him an even more tragic character than some other people in the novels. Doesn't this knowledge in a way indicate the beginning of a sort of freedom I would say yes to beginning but here I would go back to circle again and point out once more that guys at this point. So he has really no future. But undoubtedly it is a point into the possibility of the humanism in Faulkner
and this is one thing which has been neglected by European readers which of course might to become more better known with the present isolations of some of the works of Faulkner with which haven't been translated so far precisely because the French looked in Faulkner for that quality of violence and tragedy which is found in some of his early novels. You're quite right that with Hightower it seems to me you're quite right it would hide our list. Knowledge that he gets in relation to the tradition comes extremely late in his life whether or not he actually is supposed to be dying in a few sentences after his soliloquy quits I don't know but death certainly is an old man his life is over when he comes to this knowledge but in the bear. Written some years later and from which his talk never once read a passage for this program it seems to me we find a young man
very young a boy youth reexamining tradition and emerging from this with a future and now I have less and I dance in it so I think you're right. He has a future and he becomes a unified character. But what kind of a future is that I think it's only a partial and diminished future because McCaslin becomes a lonely man and he has to face that isolation from his fellow human beings in the irrevocable. And he has to live very stoically. And he has to live very stoic late and to a certain extent he cannot act in the world he becomes to his. This detached character is detached observer of life who is not really holding area and in my view. I mean who is in a way the opposite of the Marion character. Well my point is if we consider the Fort Marion character to be the characters of his early fiction yes but with this book. OK.
Came a change it seems to me that he's a new kind of partner to all of our discharges or Faulkner characters when I would say he is that he cannot eat doesn't offer a solution to the reader. You said we know now that I disagree it seems to me he offers a bit. No no final solution then who has found one human situation. But he offers much more of a solution than the suicide of the others life is a very useful thing to live but I don't think that solitude isolation from society can be considered as a solution what actually you are thinking of him perhaps when he was 70 around the time of Delta autumn and so forth. Another story in this same volume Go down Moses. But he's very active and not isolated in trying to right the wrong of his family when he travels about as a young man shortly after this experience that in the final passage which Mr is going to read he travels very actively to do write distribute the money take care of the people and then I grant moves into a
kind of isolation. But he's able to walk away from this. Yes as he said this that in a way is failure in itself and passes in a bear which refers to the two young married negroes. Doesn't it point out I mean to a failure in your life which I cannot do. Well Iraq is an enormous situation because trying to do something about it is not just collapsed into an activity it is doing what he can. Maybe it isn't much but human situation in the United States and Europe is not ideal for Laura. As I say what I see and some great points out in his last article that the foreigners situation is our situation and our future is Bardi and that we live in a world which doesn't know where it is going and in a way we have that sense of loss and what sucks of course with them criticizing Howard is that he's not looking for a collective answer and this of course would represent such his own biases to a committee and I think he's looking for he may not
have found it was this certainly is not and six little patterns and how they grew in the bear of course Faulkner goes back to something which would be much more familiar to the French. The certain feeling for nature and in a way that the natural man which would be extremely close to the also used the tradition which that power is extremely a more popular and his country that race in France. So listen now to the passage from the bare summer and fall and snow and wet and SAP drive spring in that altered immortal sequence the deathless and immemorial phases of the mother who had shaped him it in a head toward the man he almost was. Mother and father both do they all man born of a nigger a slave of the Chickasaw chief who had been his spirits father in the head. Whom he had revered and hearken to and loved and lost and grieved. And he would marry someday and they too but only for that brief while that brief and substance
glory which inherently of itself cannot last and hence why glory and they would my carry even the remembrance I would into the time when flesh no longer talks deflation because memory at least does last. But still the world would be his mistress and his wife. He was not going toward the gun tree. Actually he was getting farther from it. Time was a not so long ago either when he would not have been allowed here without someone with him and a little later when he had begun to learn how much he did not know. He would not have dared be here without someone with him. And later still beginning to ascertain even if only a demo. The limits of what he did not know. He could have attempted and carried it through with a compass not because of any increased belief in himself but because McCaslin and major Despain and Walt on general constant two had told him at last to believe the compas were gods of what it seemed to state. Now he did not even use the compass but male of the sun and that I want to sub consciously. Yet he
could have taken a scale map and plotted at any time to within 100 feet of where he actually was and shown up at almost the exact moment when he expected it. The oath again to rob is faintly he passed one of the four concrete markers set down by the lumber company surveyor to establish the four corners of the plot for a major Despain had reserved out of the seal. Then he stood on the crest of the knoll itself. The four corner markers all visible now bland still even beneath the weather's weathering lifeless and shockingly alien in that place where dissolution itself was a seething time all of a jocular nation and conception and birth and death did not even exist. After two muttered black agenda of leaves and the flood waters of two springs there was no trace of the two graves in a more hole but those who would have come this far to find them would not need headstones but would have found them as Sam father himself had taught him to find such bad bearings on trees and did almost the first thrust of the hunting knife Fanning but I
wanted to see if it was still there. The round ten box manufactured for axle grease and containing now old Ben dried mutilated pole resting above lound bottoms. He didn't disturb it. He didn't even look for the other grave where he in the cabin and made it to Spain and Boone had laid Sam's body along with his hunting horn and his knife and his tobacco pipe. That son amounted to years ago. He didn't have to. He had stepped over it perhaps on it but that was all right. He probably knew I was in the woods this morning long before I got here he thought going on to the tree which had supported one end of the platform where Sam lay when McCaslin and major Despain found them the tree the other axle grease ten nailed to the trail but it weathered rusted alien to yet beneath yet healed already into the wilderness concordant generality raising no tuneless no and empty long since empty the food and tobacco he had put into it that day as empty of that as it would present to be of this which he drew from his pocket. The
twist of the back of a new bandana handkerchief the small paper sack of peppermint candy which Sammy used to love. That gone to almost before he had turned his back toward Ganesh but Milledge translated into the myriad life which printed the dark mold of the secret and sunless place through a delicate affair a tract which breathing and biting and immobile watched him from beyond every twig and leaves until you move moving again walking along. He had not stopped he had only polish quitting the knoll which was no abode of the dead because there was no death not la Not san. Not held fast on earth but free in eight and not in earth but are both married yet I wonder if you have every myriad part leaf and twig and particle and sun and rain and dew and night they can all can leave and they can again darken dawn and darken down again in their mutable progression and being myriad one and old Ben to Old Ben to they would give him his pole back even so new they would give him his pole bag. Then the long challenge and the long chase no
hard to be driven and out raise no flesh to be mold and bled. Even as he froze him self he seemed to hear as his parting admonition. He could even hear the voice as he folds immobile one foot just taken his weight and told the other just left it behind him not breathing feeling again. And there's always the sharp shock and rush from for when Isaac McCarron and long since it was not and so it was Phil right but not fright as he looked down at it. It had not color yet and the buzzing had not sounded either. Only one figure rapid contraction. One loop has sideways or the metal purchase from which the rays had my dots slightly backward. Not in fight either. Not in threat quite yet. More than six feet up in the head raise hard on his knee and less than his his knees and that's the way they all the ones bite mark. You've gone out to a monotone Concord into the wilderness and crawl in and licked the other one the Ancient on the coast about the fatal and solitary. And he could smell it now the thin 6 smell of rotting cucumbers and something else which
had no need evocative of all knowledge and no awareness and a pariah who didn't dare. At last it moved not the head. The elevation of the head did not change as it began to glide away from him moving the wrecked jet off the perpendicular as if the head in that elevated third were complete in all and then to do walking on tooth two feet and three of all rolls of mass and balance and should have been because even now he could not quite believe that all that shifting full of shadow behind that walking ahead could have been one snake gone and then gone. He put the other foot down at last and didn't know it. Standing with one hand raised as Sam had stood that afternoon six years ago when Sam led him into the wilderness and showed him and he ceased to be a child. Speak in the Old Tongue which Sam had spoken that day without premeditation either. Chief he said Grandfather. He couldn't tell when he first began to hear the sound because when he became aware of it it seemed to him that he had already been hearing it for several seconds is sound as though someone were hammering a gun barrel against a piece of railroad
aren't they sound loud and heavy and not ready yet with something frenzied about it. As the Howrah were not only a strong man and the honest one but a little hysterical too. Yet it couldn't be on the logline because although the track lay in that direction it was at least two miles from it and this was not three hundred yards away. But even as he thought that he realized where the sound must be coming from whoever the man was and what he was doing he was somewhere near the edge of the clearing where the gun tree was and where he was to meet. So far he had been hunting as he advanced moving slowly and quietly and watching the ground and the trees both. Now he want all his gun unloaded in the barrel slanted up and back to facilitate his passage through Brown undergrowth approaching as it grew louder louder that step is savage somehow queerly hysterical beating on metal on metal emerging from the woods into the old clearing with a solitary gum tree directly before him. At first glance the trees seem to
be alive with frantic squirreled. They appear to be forty or fifty of them leaping and darting from branch to branch until the whole tree had become one green maelstrom of mad leaves while from time to time singly or in 2003 a squirrel would dart down the trunk than poor without stopping and rush back up as those sucked violently back by the vacuum of their fellows friends of vortex. Then he saw boom sitting his back against the trunk his head bent having a furious lead something on his left where he hammered with was the gun barrel of his dismembered gun what a hammer that was the breech of it the rest of the gun lay scattered about him and a half dozen pieces while he bent over the piece on his lap his scarlet and streaming won't face. Hammering the distorted barrel against a gun breech with a frantic abandon of a madman. He didn't even look up to see who it was still hammering he merely shouted back to the boy and the horse strangled voice. Get out of here. Don't touch them don't touch one of them. They're mine. The most trifling thing in that passage to my view is the serene
tone of darkness specially when we compare it with the previous where we discussed I mean light in August. This is true I think of the whole story and especially remarkable in the fourth part where Hawk beers with the same disturbing social Harlem's in relationship with the individual McCaslin in this case. And even though the passage is very complex The tone is very different and the quality of the piece is a very. A surprising one to vent to me as European reader. Yes the bear has a serenity which I think grows in part out of this situation of the hero is finding some way to survive the book is an interesting one in its relation to well-known Melville's Moby Dick for example there are many parallels here and
the bear itself for example gets larger and larger and more and more important and the whale in what we take is that way before Ahab can confront the whale he has to get rid of the trappings of civilization. The sextant a compass even his pike and look for this boy I can I can see the bear for the first time he has to get rid of his compass and his watch even a sticky carrot too. Keep off the snakes and then he. Is able to see that there and enter into that this whole experience. Your comment about Melville I think is the most interesting one in connection with the French response Melville is the most popular author in France and Moby Dick has been a bestseller of long standing. Of course it is a little bit hard to prophesies where the reaction to that there will be because to my knowledge the bear has been translated for the first time a few months ago
in the Saturday Magazine and that translation the presence of that translation is indicative perhaps of a new and broader interest in some aspects of Faulkner's work which may take place at the very moment when social and the political outlook in the world today is not quite as dark and despairing as it was previously. And maybe this this work and other works of the same type will attract a fortnight in you audience which did not appreciate too much to the extreme violence in his work and the darkness of the town. Do you think of any other predictions you would be willing to make it's a risky business both that you would be willing to make about future European meeting of the far right as you
see it shaping up well as the general reading in light of what you see the critics doing as leaders of this future I don't know if I would say that the French and the Europeans have emphasized mostly in Falkner's the existentialist aspect of his work time violence and the like. Imagine critics have been more concerned with Faulkner's symbolism problems of aesthetic structure and the purest form of criticism I think that what we will witness is the Manas it. Influence of American criticism of the French and of the French on the American and I was interested to see that in the book published about Faulkner two decades of criticism there were at least two French articles in there together with American articles. And many of the American critics now quote These French words
used to count what reaction you think criticism the fact you take in this country. But it seems to me that what you just said will add up here too I think there's less and less feeling as is said just being as we said before gratuitously violent and uncontrolled Nala rest Andy is a ten cent is very successful attempt I think at that to making genuinely serious novels in which such matters are used for much bigger means than just their current thanks just as he uses humor he doesn't use humor. He's a great human and enormously find humorous and. But he doesn't use it just for a pause in the story for a few laughs It's deeply integrated with the effect of the whole work. I think one of the important points here is that how can it in France. For obvious reasons it's always the case in foreign right here. When the writer proves that he can go across to another country he cannot be considered as a
purely regionalist or even if you're only a national writer and I think that in that respect French criticism of Faulkner had a good influence on American criticism. And here we witness a situation which may be comparable to what happened with the French impressionistic paintings whose reception was better in this country at the beginning than it was in France and the influence of Americans whereas it brought recognition to these people to a certain extent I think we have seen that in America. Oh yes and I think speaking of prophecies growing right up what you just said it seems to me that the thing already growing very rapidly and surely to become much larger in the future is an awareness that when in fact there is not a regional writer not a local colors that he writes about what he knows about the as any sensible. Any novelist who is a genius does do and but through this through this thing rooted this surface that is seems real this instance he moves on to the brothers kind of attack on a human
situation almost where I found I think that the the idea that a writer could be too rigid restored to national to be universal of course is an absurd one because well as a third rate writers can accomplish this. All right but one will never say that he's too French. And Al else why does the US use to Russian to be universal and who can be more French than by Zach and who can be yet more Russian industry as the interesting thing of course is that to the French who discovered Faulkner for themselves there was an immediate contact. In that respect that their own experience during the war the resistance was in a way more similar to that of Faulkner than to anybody else if we look at the plates by satellite. We will see that the respectable prostitute which takes up a Southern topic in a way is located in between two plays about the French resistance and who subtle in a way the
subject is the same. There is a question we haven't touched a hand at which might you can trust. Gerard how does Faulkner translate into French. Well there is no doubt that the translations of Mali said you when all who did so much to make foreign it known in France and as well as many other American writers are excellent. Undoubtedly there are many problems with the translation of Faulkner and the translators. Try to keep the sentence structure. Of thought you know which times means a certain amount of difficulties and there is a special problem with like in August which was translated into French as union meaning light and used to darkness and light in August. Writing an entirely different me referring to birth to bury it had color perhaps. It's actually all his mommy reciting thing I steal I felt for a long time. It was Mr. Ms works. They're so rich and soulful.
- William Faulkner, part two
- Producing Organization
- University of Massachusetts
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program, part two of two, explores European views of the works of William Faulkner. Faulkner himself speaks here, as do critics Rene Girard and Carvel Collins.
- Series Description
- This series analyzes European views of the works of American authors.
- Broadcast Date
- American literature--Europe--History and criticism.
- Media type
Guest: Faulkner, William, 1897-1962
Guest: Girard, Rene
Guest: Collins, Carvel, 1912-1990
Moderator: Barron, Leone
Producing Organization: University of Massachusetts
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-22-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “As others read us: American fiction abroad; William Faulkner, part two,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 28, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-69700w93.
- MLA: “As others read us: American fiction abroad; William Faulkner, part two.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 28, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-69700w93>.
- APA: As others read us: American fiction abroad; William Faulkner, part two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-69700w93