Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Reading "Faulkner" in Mississippi...
While William Faulkner was not a perfect person, he had compassion, empathy and even sympathy for good people of whichever race; and he scorned evil and cruelty in anyone, regardless of race.
I read "Go Down, Moses", a group of stories and short novels from the early 1940's. The stories were published individually for nationwide distributions in magazines like Atlantic Monthly or Saturday Evening Post; later gathered together to loosely form the flow of a novel about the former slaves, servants and tenants of the McCaslin plantation (17 miles from Jefferson) and how their history influenced young Isaac McCaslin (direct heir to the property of his Grandfather) to renounce his inheritance and assume a modest role in town, living on a small stipend, till near 80. (Considered very old in 1940).
"The Bear" is one of Faulkner's most well regarded works; I don't know how you read that story without the context of the preceding tales in this book.
"Was" tells the love story of Tomey's Turl and his future wife, Tennie Beauchamp; the sad but hilarious way they got to be together, as slaves on neighboring plantations just prior to the Civil War.
Their descendants are important characters in subsequent stories.
Except for the tragedy of young Rider in "Pantaloon in Black". The excellent young worker is simply a tenant on the McCaslin place and has an important, well paying job at the sawmill, until grief becomes his undoing.
Great Book. It was dedicated to Caroline Barr, "Aunt Cally", Faulkner's own childhood nanny, whose house is shown above, along with the old kitchen building from Rowan Oak in Jefferson...no, Oxford MS. Aunt Cally lived to be fully 100 years old, died in 1940.
I also reread "The Reivers", Faulkner's swan song. This was made into a crappy movie in 1969 which I refused to see even then. Whoever thought tiny Steve McQueen should portray Six Foot Four Boon Hoganbeck? I know, box office.
Aunt Cally appears as Lucius Priest's nanny in the story, which is, after all, a reminiscence.
Having recently read "Where the Red Fern Grows", it was interesting the similarities between the two little boys in either story; both saving up to buy themselves some hunting dogs in 1905, and getting into a peck of trouble on the way.