Faulkner and Proust

LK couldn’t help thinking of William Faulkner as we make our way through ISoLT. That’s because we’re enrolled in a short story class, which features two Faulkner stories. (Which, when combined with ISoLT, is a little like following up a seven-course meal with a snack of fruit and cheese. Nevertheless …) Faulkner and Proust each have a way of presenting the passage of time and also of wringing the most experience from even the smallest movements.

We Google’d to see if anyone else has made the connection, and naturally, our search turned up 397,000 pages containing the words “Faulkner” and “Proust.” Ever the slow-witted Googler, LK added the words “time” and “language” and trimmed our search to just over 80,000 pages. Now, that’s more like it.

Only a few glances at the deluge of essays on postmodernism, flotsammed with terms like “rhizomal structure” and “narrative design,” caused mouth-frothing and teeth-gnashing, whereupon our claws distended as if to rip out our own eyes. While that might relieve some readers, it wouldn’t help the LK quest of improving our intellect through challenging reading.

So, forget what all of the comparative lit profs have said about Faulkner and Proust. LK is simply going to give you a few tasty tidbits of both authors so you might enjoy their language, without an accompanying pile of dusty literary terms to clutter your brain.

From “Barn Burning”:

Again he could not see, whirling; there was a face in a red haze, moonlike, bigger than the full moon, the owner of it half again his size, he leaping in the red haze toward the face, feeling no blow, feeling no shock when his head struck the earth, scrabbling up and leaping again, feeling no blow this time either and tasting no blood, scrabbling up to see the other boy in full flight and himself already leaping into pursuit as his father's hand jerked him back, the harsh, cold voice speaking above him: "Go get in the wagon."

From “Swann’s Way”:

Sometimes we went as far as the viaduct, whose spans of stone like great strides began at the railway station and represented to me the exile and distress that lay outside the civilized world, because each year as we came from Paris we were warned to pay careful attention, when Combray came, not to let the station go by, to be ready ahead of time because the train would leave again after two minutes and would set off across the viaduct beyond the Christian countries of which Combray marked for me the farthest limit.

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