From Haiti to Mississippi: Faulkner and the making of the Southern master-class
Abstract:William Faulkner had a real, if oblique, relationship to Haiti as a place whose tortured history helped shape the history of the US South. This article examines the way Faulkner's work exemplifies the literary modernism of the interwar years and also put it alongside the explosion of cultural creativity in the Black Atlantic in that same period. In fact, Faulkner's work belongs to the literary history of the Black Atlantic. This study traces the importance of Haiti in the life-story of the central figure in Absalom, Absalom! (1936), Thomas Sutpen, a white slave owner in Mississippi between the 1830s and Reconstruction. Absalom tells the story of how a white master was made out of a young man of poor white origins rather than being descended from Virginian or European aristocracy. The article also explores the ways Hegel's paradigm of domination, the master-slave relationship, is reproduced in, and helps illuminate, Sutpen's story. Thus the Hegelian analysis explains not only how slaves, but also how masters, are produced.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: University of Nottingham.
Publication date: 2011-05-01
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