Some of the characters of Mosquitoes are based upon members of the New Orleans artistic community whom Faulkner knew in 1925, while others are wholly imaginative constructs. The novelist Dawson Fairchild, for example, is Faulkner’s portrait of Sherwood Anderson, the “father” of Faulkner’s generation of American novelists. Though Anderson was an important early model for him, Faulkner soon began to look elsewhere, turning principally to such writers as Joyce, Joseph Conrad, and T. S. Eliot, who represented an international as opposed to a regional standard of literature. Faulkner’s portrayal of Anderson, consequently, is equivocal. On the one hand, Fairchild is credited with possessing an attractive, folksy humor revealed primarily by the Al Jackson tall tales; or he is shown to be master of narrative pathos as when he tells Theodore the story of his ill-fated attempt to gain entrance to a college fraternity (his effect is achieved, however, by casting himself as a fool: “You poor goof” is Theodore’s summation of the story). On the other hand, Fairchild is the recipient of the novel’s most serious and significant criticism, and as such, he is to be distinguished from the relatively flattened satirical stereotypes of Talliaferro and Mrs. Maurier. Fairchild’s principal critic is his friend Kauffman (referred to throughout as “the Semitic man”), who represents many of Faulkner’s own critical judgments in the novel. Kauffman considers Fairchild a talented but seriously flawed artist; as a man, Fairchild is a “poor emotional eunuch,” and as an artist, a “bewildered stenographer with a gift for people.” As the words “son” and “child” embedded in his name suggest, Dawson Fairchild is emotionally and artistically young, never having grown beyond a midwestern regionalism and a “hopeless sentimentality,” a fact which has prevented his art from achieving a fully mature and universal significance. Though endowed with moments of insight and poetic expression, Fairchild is ultimately drawn as the pathetic, older novelist, a “benevolent walrus” who is aware of his waning artistic power.
The other flawed artists aboard the Nausikaa receive considerably less serious treatment. Mark Frost, for example, is clearly a butt of relentless satire. A “ghostly,” “sepulchral,’ and...
(The entire section is 956 words.)