From Hardy to Faulkner: Wessex to Yoknapatawpha by John Rabbetts

By John Rabbetts

This learn explores a couple of parallels among the fiction of 2 it seems that numerous writers - arguably the best novelist of English rural existence and his American counterpart.

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33 Hardy'S evocations of the liviers' way of life should therefore be seen as central to his portrayal of rural society. They are distinguished by a deeply elegiac mood: here is the true source of that nostalgic atmosphere in Hardy'S novels which critics like Brown strive to identify. However this may be lightened by humour, or balanced by The Dorsetshire Labourer's strenuously fair assessments of social change, an important part of Hardy mourns the passing of a traditional way of life which seemed to draw human activities and natural processes into a fruitful, unpretentious harmony.

103). This sense of personal equilibrium is, however, a very rare quality among Faulkner's characters. The peculiar tensions of Mississippi life are much more likely to result in violent extremism of one sort or another, or a sense of crippling indecision and conflict, like that experienced by Quentin Compson: 'he would seem to listen to two separate Quentins now - the Quentin Compson preparing for Harvard in the South, the deep South dead since 1865 and peopled with garrulous outraged baffled ghosts, listening, having to listen, to one of the ghosts ...

37 Yet unlike these nations, totalitarianism in the South was not directed or maintained by a strong central government, but by the spontaneous will of the mass of the (white) population, and expressed through a welter of popular institutionalised violence -lynchings, beatings, ostracism and murder. 38 The worst period for these atrocities was during the 1890s, the decade of Faulkner's birth. Mississippi fiercely declares that 'most of all he hated the intolerance and injustice: the lynching of Negroes not for the crimes they committed but because their skins were black (they were becoming fewer and fewer ...

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