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Faulkner’s Southern Gothic architecture

March 8, 2011 Leave a comment

The literary production of William Faulkner ranges from Nobel Prize winning Modernist to Hollywood screenwriter. His experimental Modernism, as seen in The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, is not only influential, but also infamous. Look for example at the following chapter from As I Lay Dying:

Yes, this is the whole chapter.

Much of his fiction is in the genre called Southern Gothic. In his short story “A Rose for Emily”, an old house is in focus. Here are the opening paragraphs:

When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant—a combined gardener and cook—had seen in at least ten years.

It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street. But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps—an eyesore among eyesores. And now Miss Emily had gone to join the representatives of those august names where they lay in the cedar-bemused cemetery among the ranked and anonymous graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson.