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Faulkner and the Black Literatures of the Americas$
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Jay Watson and James G. Thomas

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781496806345

Published to University Press of Mississippi: September 2017

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496806345.001.0001

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Lingering in the Black: Faulkner’s Illegible Modernist Sound Melding

Lingering in the Black: Faulkner’s Illegible Modernist Sound Melding

(p.36) Lingering in the Black: Faulkner’s Illegible Modernist Sound Melding
Faulkner and the Black Literatures of the Americas

Thadious M. Davis

Jay Watson

University Press of Mississippi

Faulkner clearly paid attention to the trends and directions of modernist writing in the early 1920s, but what is less obvious is how the work of African Americans contributed to his “making it new,” as Pound suggested for creating a modern poetics. This essay explores the soundings from Black cultural and literary production that Faulkner drew upon and melded into his writerly voice and modernist aesthetic. From the blues and jazz music of Black musicians, such as W. C. Handy, through the fictive realms of modernist writers (e.g., Gertrude Stein, Sherwood Anderson, Roark Bradford) whose artistry drew on Black voices, to the aesthetic work of modern Black writers (in particular, James Weldon Johnson’s sermons in verse), Faulkner found models for rendering the sounds of Black life in his literary art. These Black soundings remain audible though not transparent in Faulkner’s fiction and practice through the 1920s and beyond.

Keywords:   Soundings, Black Voice, Modernism, Black Speech, Black Music

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