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Faulkner and FormalismReturns of the Text$
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Annette Trefzer and Ann J. Abadie

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781617032561

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617032561.001.0001

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Visualizing Light in August

Visualizing Light in August

Text, Author, Textuality, Authority

(p.107) Visualizing Light in August
Faulkner and Formalism

Thadious M. Davis

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines textuality and authority in William Faulkner’s novel Light in August, focusing on the body, especially the abject body. It begins with an analysis of Doane’s Mill as a desolate industrial wasteland that foreshadows the abject or “disposable” human environment addressed in the novel, and the characters who attempt to resist this economy of waste. The chapter suggests that Light in August “takes on the difficult question of how some humans attempt to dispose of others” because they may be seen as either “inconsequential” or “different.” It then outlines an “epistemology of the visual” and its potential for a “social reformation for the eye,” including the reader’s eye. Drawing on Roland Barthes’ concept of the “agent of blindness,” the chapter argues that Faulkner “challenges and questions ways of interpreting people, places, and events based on sight,” while using film techniques to “intensify the effects of his novel’s specularity.”

Keywords:   textuality, authority, William Faulkner, Light in August, abject body, industrial wasteland, economy, Roland Barthes, agent of blindness

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