William Faulkner Mystery & Detective Fiction Analysis
William Faulkner’s eminence is such that his work is not considered in generic terms. He is not considered a regional writer, but he was once so labeled. He is not regarded as a writer of mystery and detective fiction, but a number of his novels and short stories employ the conventions and devices of the genre. Faulkner belonged to the world when in 1950 he accepted the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature (which had been withheld for a year). One should remember, however, that only a few years earlier he had been regarded as a rather quaint writer with a provincial perspective. As late as 1942, a popular reference work had characterized Faulkner as “a minor Balzac of a subhuman world.” The commentator who chose that phrase certainly regarded the southern gothic ambience of some of the books as the paramount quality in the author’s work.
During much of the 1930’s and again late in the 1940’s, Faulkner repeatedly used crime, mystery, and suspense as key elements in developing his themes. For example, the theme of Faulkner’s best-known (certainly his most anthologized) short story, “A Rose for Emily,” is the seductive appeal of the South’s dead past. He uses a horrific surprise ending as the final, palpable proof of the force of that past. The story begins at the funeral of Miss Emily Grierson, the last member of an old Jefferson, Mississippi, family. At her death, Miss Emily lived in the once-fine, now dilapidated, family home in a...
(The entire section is 2063 words.)
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