Voice and Eye in Faulkner’s Fiction

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Hugh M. Ruppersburg examines the use of narrative viewpoint and structure in four representative novels by William Faulkner: Light in August, Pylon, Requiem for a Nun, and Absalom, Absalom! In his discussion of these four works he refers frequently, and often at length, to Faulkner’s other novels and stories, so that the book offers a comprehensive examination of the narrative principle that underlie Faulkner’s literary achievement. Ruppersburg shows how the Nobel Prize-winning novelist employed a number of elements to guarantee the impersonality of his fiction–how he built his novels primarily around the speech and thoughts of his characters. The absence of a judgmental authorial or narrational voice, says Ruppersburg, compels the reader to reach his own judgment concerning the behavior of these characters as well as the meaning and value of the fiction. By fusing a number of individual perspectives into a composite perspective, Faulkner gives the community itself a voice. He also uses narrative viewpoint to dramatize the individual’s search for identity and the nature of truth, time, history, and human consciousness. Most significantly, the author says, Faulkner’s manipulation of character perspective forces the reader to participate in the narrative process on the same level as that of the fictional characters. Voice and Eye in Faulkner’s Fiction is primarily intended for the literature teacher and specialist, but it is directed as well to all readers curious about Faulkner’s methods and the ways in which his novels work.

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