Associate Professor of English, University of Richmond
National Humanities Center Fellow
About the Seminar
Faulkner’s fifth novel, As I Lay Dying (1931), followed what many consider his most accomplished work, The Sound and the Fury. Yet the story of the Bundren clan displays many of the hallmark elements of literary modernism as other Faulkner novels. Nevertheless, it remains one of Faulkner’s most opaque while also most fascinating works in part because of its differences as well as similarities to the Compson saga. Writing about impoverished white hill farmers in the most advanced – and decidedly modern – formal techniques available to him, Faulkner produced a dazzling tour de force that engages the material history of the Southern rural poor and expands meaningfully on his treatment elsewhere of a troubled region and its fading aristocracy.
This model in turn furnished writers from developing countries ways to “modernize” their own provincial or rural characters. As with all of Faulkner’s writing, close attention to his formidably dense prose in As I Lay Dying offers particular insight into the workings of his characters’ interior life as well as their external circumstances.
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- As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner.