Date of Award

1991

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Lewis P. Simpson

Abstract

The old general in A Fable embodies the resolution of questions about the relation of art and life that Faulkner evoked in his invention of Quentin Compson in The Sound and the Fury and pursued in a series of subsequent characterizations. This artist-figure motif discloses Faulkner's implication of the relation in the modern crisis of faith. Faulkner images in narrative fiction what Nietzsche asserts in discourse, namely, the need for a reversal of the Platonic valuation of eternal "truth" (ideality) over art. The characterization of Quentin shows the potentially terrible consequences of man's propensity for mythopoeic invention, as Quentin's unconscious remythologizing of Christian mythos results in the nihilism it seeks to overcome. In A Fable, several characters repeat the paradigm of artist-figures who attempt through mythopoeia to override ontological conditions and establish ideal projections. The old general, by contrast, recognizes the open--"aestheticist"--condition of existence, predicated on man's physiology, which entails the universality of perspectivism and makes valuation essential to the well-being of man's existence. Aware of both the mythic proportions of his public image and the need of his culture for a sustaining grand illusion, the old general consciously develops a legend of himself that satisfies this need through a reaccentuation of Christian mythos. In this action he suggests Heidegger's reinterpretation of Nietzsche's reversal, a reading that postulates the "strife" between closure and disclosure as the inherent existential operation whereby art allows truth "to happen." The dissertation includes four chapters: (1) "The Textual Case for Faulkner's Aestheticism"; (2) "Remythology and Spoilation: The Mythopoeic Utterances of Faulkner's Failed Artist-Figures"; (3) "Strife, Structure, the Dissemination of Voices and the Destruction of Truth in A Fable"; (4) "The Artist's Directive: Remythologizing the Kerygma in A Fable.".

Pages

191

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