Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 341
Like other southern writers who followed William Faulkner, Price has always tried to distance himself from the greatest of these so that his own works would not be seen merely as pale imitations of Faulkner’s fiction. Nevertheless, in terms of subject matter, structural syntax, and literary sensitivity, Price’s works are inescapably reminiscent of Faulkner’s writing; such is especially the case with “The Warrior Princess Ozimba.”
The main subject here is personality (what it means to be defined by the culture and heritage of the American South) and personhood. Although Price’s technique may be independent of Faulkner’s influence, it is a parallel to it. The story’s confusion of the past with the present, its sentimentality for days and times gone past, its intense longing for a life that should have been but is no longer, all surface here as main elements holding this short story together. In Intruder in the Dust (1948), Faulkner wrote that “the past isn’t gone, it isn’t even passed”; remarkably and exactly, such is the case here with Aunt Zimby, a relic of the Civil War who has survived past the middle of the twentieth century.
The syntax of Price’s writing also inevitably reminds one of Faulkner’s own: Sentences perambulate, becoming successfully unwieldy with an occasional, out-of-place big word that momentarily throws the reader, but then is seen as appropriate, correct, and masterful. The story’s first two paragraphs contain five different parenthetical thoughts and observations, all given in the manner of Faulkner; they provide insight and provoke thought. The dialogue of characters also echoes the sentimentality of the Old South rather in the same way as Faulkner would have rendered it.
These obvious and undeniable parallels to Faulkner’s style do not distract from Price’s own value as a writer about life, the human heart, and the South. Clearly, Price is not consciously attempting to imitate Faulkner; his own closeness to his subjects is garnered in such sensitivity that his fiction is far more than mere imitation.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 136
Drake, Robert, ed. The Writer and His Tradition. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1969.
Humphries, Jefferson, ed. Conversations with Reynolds Price. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1991.
Kaufman, Wallace. “A Conversation with Reynolds Price.” Shenandoah 17 (Spring, 1966): 3-25.
Price, Reynolds. Learning a Trade: A Craftman’s Notebooks, 1955-1997. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1998.
Rooke, Constance. Reynolds Price. Boston: Twayne, 1983.
Schiff, James A., ed. Critical Essays on Reynolds Price. New York: G. K. Hall, 1998.
Schiff, James A., ed. Understanding Reynolds Price. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996.
Shuman, R. Baird. “Reynolds Price.” In Encyclopedia of American Literature, edited by Steven R. Serafin. New York: Continuum, 1999.
Woiwode, Larry. “Pursuits of the Flesh, Adventures of the Spirit.” The Washington Post Book World, April 26, 1981, p. 5.
Wright, Stuart, and James L. West III. Reynolds Price: A Bibliography, 1949-1984. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1986.
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