Faulkner’s Roads

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Faulkner is not usually regarded as a road novelist, yet he may well be the greatest. I'm thinking primarily of As I Lay Dying, which depicts the Bundrens' funeral procession to bury the dead mother, a grotesque pilgrims' progress. In Light in August, roads also take on central importance. In the opening scene, Lena Grove walks along, pregnant, about to enter Jefferson, thinking, "I have come from Alabama: a fur piece. All the way from Alabama a-walking. A fur piece." At the end of the novel, less than two weeks later, she has given birth to a baby and still has not found the father of her child as she sits on a waggon leaving Jefferson and says, "My, my. A body does get round. Here we aint been coming from Alabama but two months, and now it's already Tennessee." Lena Grove's arrival and departure envelops the story of Joe Christmas, the orphan who is always on the run, and that narrative is also full of road scenes, predominantly cruel and violent ones.
That excerpt of the presentation given in November '98 at the Campus Opening (>>>) has occasioned numerous suggestions of addenda worthy of consideration. I've been alerted to road scenes in Absalom, Absalom!, The Sound and the Fury, The Hamlet, and in short stories like "Spotted Horses," "That Evening Sun," "Dry Septmber," or "Delta Autumn."

(thanks to tim conley on that)


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