Wilam Faulkner in Literature Genre and Period Classification

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Literature is any textual record that represents or illustrates human thoughts, expressions and lived in experiences of any nature.Text is one of the earliest medium used for the conveyance of literature and has over time achieved a more prominent status.The use of language as the common medium of expression helped text to an extend to take the prime position among other forms of litearture that courts visual art. The domains of literature are diverse and difficult to classify, however literature has over time, introduced some categories though occasionally overlapping quite stable. Literature is broadly divided into fiction and non fiction, the latter is divided into biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, scientific narratives and reports. The former introduces a more diverse and often quoted classification in the field of literature. Non fiction is divided into drama, poem, short stories, novellas and novels. The term genre has been conventionally attributed to this classification.

Drama, according to M. H. Abrams is ” the form of composition designed for performance in the theater, in which actors take the roles of the characters, perform the indicated action, and utter the written dialogue. This genre is further divided on the basis of its form and contents. The sub-genres of drama include tragedy, comedy, tragicomedy and melodrama. Tragedy is a typpe of drama that often depicts murder, death and pain in a serious discourse. Main characters usually have some defects which leads to their downfall. This type of drama intends to create pity and fear in the mind of the audience to lead them to catharsis. Comedy aims at creating laughter, with a light tone and happy ending. The dramatic form called comedy emerged from the ancient Greece. Tragicomedy combines the features of tragedy and comedy, this paly is charecterised by a serious and melancholic succession of plot which leads to an ironic reversal of events that result in a happy ending. Melodrama is a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions. The themes depicted are simple and without any plot twists.

A poem is a piece of writing in which the expression of details and ideas are given intensity by particular attention to diction, rhythm and imagery.The sub genres are ballad, Elegy, ode, epic poem and sonnet. In origin the ballad is a story-song an item of folk culture passed on by word of mouth. The epic is generally regarded as the grandest and noblest of all poetic forms. It treats a theme of high seriousness in a plot of large scope. Elegy in ancient Greece was a poem that used the elgaic metre of which there is no real equivalent in English verse. The term Elegy is now applied to a lyric that projects sad and melancholic mood. Sonnet is a Lyrical poetry dramatic in tone, subjective in content with a fourteen line stanza that contains a heroic couplet. The ode is a poem which is not intensely personnel in tone, usually addressed to a personified entity.

A short story is literary work that consists of 1,600 to 20,000 words in length. This genre is derived into forms like, fables, allegory, exemplum and parables. Allegory is a symbolic fictional narrative that conveys meaning not explicitly set forth in the narrative. A fable is a brief tale told to point a moral, the characters are usually animals or inanimate objects. Parable is a very short narrative about human beings presented so as to stress the analogy.
A novella is a short and concise narrative structure which is longer than a short story and shorter than a novel. This form was responsible for the development of short story throughout Europe. The plot is very compact in this genre.

Novel is a prose narrative which is greater than novella in length. The plot of a novel may deal with anything in human life through creative interpretation of lived in experiences by means of events and characters. The word limit of a novel is around 40,000 to 50,000 words. The sub genres of novel are picaresque novel, epistolary novel, gothic novel, bildungsroman, antinoval, social novel, historical novel, and education novel. Picaresque novel relates with the adventures of a low born rascal who lives by his wits and moves from one social mileu to another. The epistoalary novel is a type of novel that carries the narrative forward through letters. Gothic novel is a novel that incorporates magic, mystery, chivalry and horror. Bildungsroman is a novel that deals with the development of a person from their young age to maturity. Anti novels are novels that dispose the traditional noveilistic methods and conventions. Social novel is a kind of novel that focuses on the economic aspects that mould the shape of a character. Historical novels were introduced by Sir Walter Scott.These novels made use of history to construct the plot.

English literature is a domain that is spread across the globe through different cultures, thus it is also divided on the basis of the region from which it was produced. They are British literature, American literature, Canadian literature, African literature, Australian literature and Indian English literature.

British literature is divided into many sections based on the time period.They are old English age, middle English age, renaissance,the Elizabethen age, the jacobean age, the Caroline age, common wealth period, neoclassical period, Augustan age, age of sensibility, romantic period, Victorian period, Edwardian period, modern period and postmodern period.

Africa was described as the dark continent by the colonizers. They used this term to propagate their colonial mission. There were oratures which was transformed to written works due to the arrival of Islam. Colonialism bought the next wave of literacy and initiated the history of African literature in English.
Indo-Anglian literature, one of the most important varients of postcolonial literature refers to the literary works of the writers in India who use English language as the medium of expression, though they have one of the Indian tongues as native language. It also includes the works of Indian diaspora.

The term Canadian literature in English refers to literature which is written in what is now territorial Canada or written by Canadians abroad. The nation had three sets of people and their literatures, the aboriginal, the French – Canadians, the English settlers.

Australian literature is the written or literary work produced in the area or by the people of the common wealth of Australia and its preceeding colonies. Historically the beginning of Australian literature was from the dominent British literature forms.

American literature is difficult to classify in the way one does with British literature. However a categorization based on the dominent historical, cultural, political and literary events American literature can be classified as follows, the colonial period, the revolutionary age, early national period, romantic era, realistic period, naturalistic period, modernist period, postmodern period. Among all the period, the modernist and postmodernist periods were the times during which literature began to form through new ideas and experimentation, the modernist period marked the beginning of experimentation and multiplicity. Writers like Ezra Pound, e. e. Cummings and William Faulkner were pioneers in new forms of literary devices.

Wilam Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi in 1897. His father shifted the family to Oxford in 1902. It was also the place where the university was placed. His father Muraray C Faulkener was the buisnesws manager of the University. His grandfather William C. Faulkner was portrayed in his novels. His great grandfather and grand father appear as Colonel Sartoris and Bayard Sartoris in Sartoris, The unvanquished and many other stories. His immediate family is the original of the Compsons family in The Sound and Fury and in many other stories. Faulkner was not capeble student. He left highschool after 10th and served a period in the Canadian Air Force. He was a special student at the University of Missiipi during 1919-1921.He studied English, Spanish and French. He later became the postmaster of the University for a short period. In 1924 appeared The Marble Farm, imitative book of poems. He traveled to New Orleans to refine his literary career. He met Sherwood Anderson who was an eminent novelist of that time, Faulkner was influenced by him and their friendship grew to good lengths. His first novel was Soldier’s pay ( 1926) it had new Orleans as it’s setting. The second novel Mosquitos (1927)is a satirical novel. The third novel Sartoris (1929) is an account of Sartoris family and the veteran young Bayard. These three novels has the theme of the lost generation in common

In June 1929 Faulkner married Estelle Oldham and chose a career as a writer.After settling in Oxford, Mississippi he had several visits to Hollywood where he worked on movie scripts. His most renowned work Sound and Fury (1929),was published. His famous books are As I Iay Dying (1930), Sanctuary (1931), Light in August (1932), Pylon(1935), Absalom Absalom(1936), The Unvanquished(1938), The Wild Palms(1939), Hamlet(1940), Go Down Moses(1942), Intruder in the Dust(1948), Requim For A Nun(1951), A Fable(1954), The Town (1957) and The Reviewers(1962),

He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950. He also receieved Pulitzer prizes for The Town and the Reviewers. He traveled to Japan and other European countries.He became the writer in residence at the university in Virginia. William Faulkner died in Oxford, Mississippi on July 6,1962. The novels Sound and Fury, As I Lay Dying, Sanctuary, Light in August and Absalom Absalom! are deemed to be the nexus of Faulkner’s major accomplishments, they are considered as the most accurate analysis of the human conscience which is the hallmark of his writing.

His themes and characterization were influenced by Edgar Allen POE, James Joyce, and T. S. Eliot. Though he was a writer with his own eccentric style he retains many traits of his predecessors. He absorbed the palpable construction of imagination from Charles Brockden Brown and Eedgar Allen Poe, parallel illustration techniques from Hawthorne and the tradition of legendary illustrations of plot from Cooper. Faulkner, it seems had also used the Jacobean drama,Russian novel and the modern novel techniques.

Faulkener was a remarkable novelist and story writer who shared a considerable amount of technical and moral aspects of the fiction of the twentieth century. He wrote about his native place and was able to search through the evil in man’s psyche and the tragedy that stems form it. He wades through all the aspects of man’s nature to shed light on his soul. Faulkeners primery theme is man and his surroundings. Faulkner has not only presented the south in his novels, but also the clash of the human mind between various stages. During his Nobel prize acceptance speech he mentioned the need for portraying the inner conflicts of the human mind. He was of the opinion that it alone can make good writing because it is worth writing about. Love, honour, pity pride, compassion and other main human emotions are constantly daignoosed in most of his novels. His hope in man was also heard in his Nobel prize acceptance speech, he was of the opinion that man despite his many endurances will prevail not because he has got an inexhaustible voice but because of the spirit he posses that is capeble of compassion sacrifice and endurance. His precise psychological portrayl of characters are commendable, Sound and Fury portrays the rising of the commercial classes and with it the subsequent conflict of an aristocratic family which ultimately decays, depicted through techniques that are mostly psychological. As I Lay Dying is about the problems that are set in motion when family love declines and people begin to give themselves up to endless speculation rather than action. The degradation of love and values in the world and the consequent incidents like rape and its effect on sex are depicted in Sanctuary. Light in August exhorts all men through religious and psychological discourses to love one another accepting the human weaknesses. Thomas Sutpen’s bias to Negroes is well portrayed in Absalom Absalom ! He canot in anyway accept the black man as his equal, Hamlet and Intruder in the Dust also have similer themes. A comprehensive analysis of all his novels brings out the of the Christian morals though he doesn’t particularly advocate any orthodox practice.

He is a regional writer and has set almost all his novels in the fictional Yoknapatawpha county. Through his eccentric imagination he introduced many legends, stories, folktales, and myths of the south. He was also able to incorporate his own family history into the plot of Sartoris. He portrays the deacay of the proud southern family the rise of the commercial classes as the Snopsis and the poor white Bundrens in As I Lay Dying. Faulkner was familier with the geography of the county and it became bold and picturesque throughout the novels he wrote. He gives local inhabitation and names to imaginary places and locations. At a time when the world was focused on America’s auquirance of atomic power and its leap to modernity he wrote about the rustic, the weak and the unvanquished. Creation of Yoknapatawpha county is a milestone in American fiction, resembling a social structure of the legends in it’s compactness, it is well rounded and doesn’t discriminate between its elements. This fictional place consists of families that embody the southern sense, their crude and hard ways, prejudice to Negroes, and the manners of the rising classes. The novel that he writes simply deals with some of them and wades deeply into the psychological, moral, and evil, content of it, turning the rural shade so flexible that it could be made the universal shae of conditions of the whole humanity.

Faulkener’s artistic element is complex he uses a combination of contaradictory themes to weave his novel. The initially portrayed part is that of the declining aristocracy with its dissolution that is moral, economic and spiritual, followed by the rise of the commercial classes that are oppertunistic in nature. His use of the impressionistic technique in The Sound and Fury shows the features of literary brilliance and it still stands unsurpassed. His use of the literary technique is efficient as he uses the minimal words to introduce themes that are contradictory. His use of parallel tales is another one of his techniques which was inspired by Freud, James Joyce, and T. S Eliot. The habit of abundantly using metaphors, simile, and analogies marks the construction of his novels. He juxtaposes myths and modes of tragedy and comedy to encode the meaning or the message of his novel. The novel Sound and Fury is the harmony of three different myths set against each other namely the Christian myth, the primitive rituals and myth of life and death in Macbeth. Added to this is fact that most of the action takes place during christain dates such as Good Friday. Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. Themes of love, sacrifice, death and resurrection are incorporated with christain decorations before introducing in this novel. This can be justified by taking instances from the novel, the Compsons reject the moral values that Christ’s death and resurrection stand for, Dilsey, the Negro servant Isa symbol of primitive rituals, the title of the novel is an allusion to Macbeth. Therefore it can be understood that Faulkner’s technical innovations are in harmony with the contradicting themes as they neutralize themselves in contributing to the harmony of the work.

Faulkner has established the standards of his style as heavy in artistic effect which is adorned and sometimes vague. In tracing the time line of the South through his fictional County his style at times gains an astonishing calirity and fluidity. The influence of Swineburne and Beardsley can be seen in the novel The Soldiers Pay the vivid descriptions and Faulkner’s focus on the details are easy to pick up. For example, the lines “The sky so remote, so bad, spurned by the unicorns of gold, that, neighing soundlessly from dusk to dawn had seen them, her taut body prone and naked and narrow pool.” His style asserts and adorns when he taps into the mystery of human mind. Absalom Absalom, which is full of mystic tones is told with an excess of decoration with long and intertwined sentences. Faulkners introduction of ” tall tradition” in his novels is an imitation of William Van O’ Connor. This technique is folksy, chrarecterised with a disregard for Grammer, wild hyperbols and restrained statements. This style was used by him for the purpose of humour.

His characterization is complicated and is largely the creation of what that conforms to his southern imagination. The essential sense of all his novels writes Kazin “was a sense of havoc and conflict of human storm, blood madness and irrational, of the the passionate human, real was boldly grounded, in human violence and fireace interminabilities of the human tendency to abrubt and fatal action, his characters would go on meditating the consequences of their action, not from any hope of moderating what from the first moment had been beyond them-but from the inevitable need of bought to live with consequences of their action.” (Ibid 26-27). Individauality is one of the special traits of Faulkner’s characters they speak, think and work in their own manner. Benjy in The Sound and Fury is a character who thinks less and is restricted to feeling. Jason’s thoughts are ironical and he exhibits black humour and tensed thoughts. Candace a prolifgate woman of loose morals has incestuous relationship with her brother and gives birth to an illegitimate child. Dilsey the old negress embodies the virtues of sympathy, decency and responsibility, which is lacking in the Compsons. As I Lay Dying contains 15 characters who are different from each other by every means though most of them are part of a single family. Characters in later novels like Pylon and Absalom Absalom! Belonged to the modern industrial world which was completely different from traditional settings.

Faulkner was an eccentric modern novelist of the twentieth century. His novels have a stronghold that only one can find in the great classics of the world. Some of his novels are very eccentric, he is often neglected in this aspect but it cannot be concealed that he was a good experimenter with the techniques of literature. Due to his quality of experimentation he has contributed a considerable amount of insights into those techniques. The stream of concious technique used in As I Lay Dying is an example for this. Faulkner deserves praise for delivering fiction the greater freedom and eccentricity through his magnitude of imagination.

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Wilam Faulkner in Literature Genre and Period Classification. (2020, Nov 11). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/wilam-faulkner-in-literature-genre-and-period-classification/

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