Faulkner continued to write about that place of confused order--the place, however,
which held its own surprisingly detailed system of order, the "south" with a direction
--and left the Yoknapatawpha Saga to posterity.
Nakagami Kenji on William Faulner1Latin American writer Gabriel García Márquez once confessed to patricidal desire, when an interviewer asked him to talk about his relationship to William Faulkner. He said that his mission was not to imitate Faulkner but to kill and destroy him.2 In spite of their tone of insistent filial antagonism, García Márquez's words sound irrelevant and too commonplace to experienced readers just as another case of too often repeated oedipal struggles between literary fathers and sons, especially in this particular father-son relationship between two great writers of this century. William Faulkner himself repeated the motif throughout his writing career, as he did most conspicuously in works like The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom! But did Faulkner not write of the absence of the father rather than of his presence , and, did he not write, consequently, of his protagonists' inability to be involved in oedipal struggles
This initial, instinctive reaction on the part of the readers to García Márquez confession is brought about not only by the fact that Faulkner seldom failed to make the presence of the preceding generation of his fictional protagonists nearly invisible in works like Flags in the Dust and Sanctuary. García Márquez's words paradoxically make us aware that the figure of the "father" is repeatedly absent in the Faulkner oeuvre. How could Garcia Marquez find the tangible presence of the father in "William Faulkner," whom he would have killed and destroyed?
The vague impression leads us to a reexamination of the ambiguous comments, made by another "literary son" of William Faulkner. In his lecture at the International Faulkner Symposium held at Izu in 1985, Nakagami Kenji specified the source of Faulkner's creative achievement as the inspiration of the literature of "the luxuriating south." According to Nakagami's curiously penetrating comments, Faulkner's literature belongs to "the south," which allows its literary products to grow rife like honeysuckles and other plants that typically dominate Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha county. The literature of "the south" does not grow like the trunk of a tree: it grows without the kind of linear direction that characterizes the literature of "the north."3 Nakagami repeated the images of the random growths of plants and roots not only in this lecture but also in his works like Misaki, Kareki-nada, and Chi-no Hate Shijo-no Toki, works (a trilogy, as critics call them) that constitute what might be called a culturally transplanted Yoknapatawpha saga, like García Márquez's in South America. Nakagami's works are full of polyphonic mixtures of random voices and pieces of vernacular narrations of his almost anonymous characters. His images reverberate with the memories of the texture of Faulkner's writings: rumors, fragmented narrations, voices of isolated, orphaned characters, coming out of no specific origins. Nakagami echoes these Faulknerian textual idiosyncrasies so persistently that they come to constitute the very essence of his writings in turn, enticing readers into believing that Nakagami's intuitive comments were right, when he spoke of the "luxuriating" quality of the south as vital to both Faulknerian!
Ériture and to the texture of his own. Nakagami's "south" apparently does not only refer to the climate but also to the structure of hegemony between "the south" and "the north." His reference is to that historically specific south, a region deprived of its political independence after its defeat in the Civil War. It is so hard to imagine that Nakagami was not strongly aware of the power structure of the south and the north in Faulkner works in his lecture at the Faulkner Symposium.4 In Faulkner works like The Sound and the Fury, the north is the conqueror that deprives southern white males of patriarchal authority within the community and in the family structure. Loss is the constant undercurrent of Yoknapatawpha: the name "Yoknapatawpha" itself comments on the power structure through its reference to the loss suffered by American Indians when they were deprived of their land and rights by white European settlers. If we can reformulate Nakagami's "south" as the south that becomes rife with imagination, because it lacks the phallic trunk of a tree in its Freudian, "modern" implications of the terminology, we might be allowed the liberty to shelve the Freudian schema of writerly influences as oedipal struggles between fathers and sons, formulated most patently by Harold Bloom, and might go on to search for a new type of a schema, a paradoxical, genealogy between William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, and probably Nakagami Kenji himself.
Faulkner biographers have repeatedly pointed out that William Faulkner's biographical father Murry was regarded by his son to be too weak as his model of male authority to fight against in an oedipal relationship and that Faulkner turned to his great-grandfather Colonel Faulkner in order to compensate for the lack of a role model.5 This well-known family situation has offered a partial explanation for the fact that the generation just preceding Faulkner's fictional protagonists often seem to lack substance in works such as Flags in the Dust and The Sound and the Fury. It is more important to note, however, that Faulkner also turned for his role models to his American literary predecessors, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, and Sherwood Anderson, as if to compensate for the weakness of his father in biography. All these literary "fathers" of William Faulkner commonly dealt with the problematics involved in the always precarious representation of The United States as the cultural matrix of literary productions that necessarily had to constitute the nuclei of their concerns. Mark Twain and Sherwood Anderson, to whom Faulkner felt a closer affinity than to two other writers he once called "Europeans,"6 often wrote about their conflicts with, and escape from, what they regarded as their past. And they consequently had to record their conflicts with their native father figures, rather than simply reconstituting the past in their own rights, thus necessarily emphasizing the authority of the father as Nathaniel Hawthorne ambivalently did in 19th century New England. William Faulkner, Mark Twain, and Sherwood Anderson addressed themselves to the investigation of the southern cultural climate, and share characteristics different from the vague, generalized image of American literature, formulated, to cite a well-known example, by Gilles Deleuze and Jean Baudelliard as the literature of "disjunction," "escape," and "de-territorialization."7 It is possible to consider that the idiosyncrasies of their writing accrued from the cultural traits of the south of The United States and from its unique historical consciousness, which were based upon different ideological assumptions from those of the north. The predominant image of William Faulkner as a writer, the bombastic modernist, racist-sexist writer, who embodies the infamous southern white male supremacy, might be reexamined from a different angle, if we pay closer attention to the "literary" quality of his works and to its relationship to the southern cultural climate as Nakagami did in his lecture.
Gabriel García Márquez has been known for his innovative mode of writing named "magic realism." His special kind of realism shares the same literary aspects as Faulkner's fictions. Critics like Frederick Jameson, for example, have pointed out that "magic realism" is a "postmodern" technique employed specifically to emphasize the difference between fact and non-fact, reality and meaning.14 Like Faulkner's fictions, García Márquez's works make best use of their emphasis on the multiplicity of meaning produced through the medium of language, in order to create a structure in which images and narrations refuse to be identified as meaning and forms.
Nakagami Kenji also created the same Faulknerian structure in his works like Misaki, Karekinada, Chin-no Hate Shijo-no Toki, and Hosenka. Novels were basically about "negation" and "discrimination" for Nakagami. He often repeats Faulknerian images in his works and he also introduces Faulknerian incest plots. Nakagami's Quentin Compson-like young protagonist, Akiyuki, of Misaki, Karekinada, and Chi-no Hate Shijo-no Toki, actually commits incest with his sister and confesses it to his father for a reason very similar to Quentin Compson's. He does so in his attempt at provoking the authority of the father who forbids incest. Akiyuki's father Hamamura Ryuzo, the powerful patriarch of Nakagami's milieu Roji, bases his authority upon the historical succession of his lineage from the legendary hero Hamamura Son-ichi. At the close of Nakagami's "trilogy," that is, at the end of Chi-no Hate Shijo-no Toki, Akiyuki faces the disappearance of Roji and the suicide of his father Hamamura Ryuzo, an act symbolic of the radical absence of the father.16 It is not, therefore, a mere coincidence that both García Márquez and Nakgami repeat the Faulknerian motif of incest between siblings. They adopt Faulknerian motifs such as power structure, the absence of the father, and the consequent impossibility to complete patriarchal narrations, and create formal structures appropriate to those motifs. The repetitions of images, the most apparent of influences from Faulkner in their works, is subordinate to those more important repetitions of motifs. The writers commented upon in this article, including Mark Twain, share similar concerns: modernity, consciousness, difféance and the play of language, which are typical subjects pertaining to the western thought from modernity to postmodernity and poststructuralism. Not only Faulkner but also García Márquez and Nakagami were keenly aware both of the actual historical processes and the conceptual aspects of historical narrations.
1 Nakagami Kenji, "Faukner: The Luxuriating South," Michel Gresset and Kenzaburo Ohashi, eds., Faulkner: After the Nobel Prize (Kyoto: Yamaguchi Publishing House, 1987), 335-6.
2 Subaru, August 1983.
3 Nakagami, 329-333.
4 Nakagami used to say that his novels were about discrimination and negation. Nakagami also shared this thematic aspect of Faukner's writings. See, for example, Shuji Takazawa, Hyoden Nakagami Kenji(Tokyo: Shuei-sha, 1998).
5 David Minter explains the family situation as follows: "Although his family's status guaranteed him work and so helped to make his life more bearable, it also made his failure conspicuous. As he moved from job to job, finding no place of his own, he became widely regarded as the failed descendant of a legendary grandfather and a successful father." David Minter, William Faulkner: His Life and Work (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins U.P., 1980), 8.
6 In one of the interviews in Japan, Faulkner said: "Hawthorne, the others, they were Europeans, they were not Americans." He also mentioned Sherwood Anderson as "the father of all my works, of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, etc., all of them--we were all influenced by him." James B. Meriwether and Michael Millgate, eds., Lion in the Garden: Interviews with William Faulkner 1926-1962, 101. Faulkner's comment on Mark Twain's works is also interesting. He said Mark Twain's works are not novels because they are "too loose": "People will read Huck Finn for a long time. Twain has never really written a novel, however. His work is too loose. We'll assume that a novel has set rules. His work is a mass of stuff--just a series of events." Lion in the Garden, 56.
7 Gilles Deleuze discusses the general quality of American literature as the literature of "escape," "disjunction," and "de-territorialization" in chapters of Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet, Dialogues (Paris: Flammarion, 1977). Jean Baudrillard's view of America is very similar to Deleuze's optimistic discussion that idealizes and differentiates it from Europe as the new world. Deleuze cites Melville, Henry James, Scott Fitzgerald, and Jack Kerouac, but not Mark Twain nor Faulkner, probably because they are different from American writers who just escape. See Jean Baudrillard: Améique (Paris: Grasset, 1986).
8 The famous epigraph of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn typically testifies to the ambivalence Mark Twain felt about his authority: "NOTICE: Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR PER G.G., CHIEF OF ORDNANCE." Mark Twain both abandons and retains his authority in placing this notice as the first sentences of the work. Critics are already beginning to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a mixture of different voices, i.e. as a mixture of different cultural origins. Shelly Fishkin Fisher, for example, points out that critics "have missed the ways in which African-American voices shaped Twain's creative imagination at its core" Shelly Fishkin Fisher, Was Huck Black?: Mark Twain and African-American Voices (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 1993), 4.
9 The comment is to the famous following passage: "His childhood was full of them; his very body was an empty hall echoing with sonorous defeated names; he was not a being, an entity, he was a commonwealth." William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!, the Corrected Text (New York: Random House, 1986), 7.
10 Wolfgang Iser, The Implied Reader: Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U.P., 1974), 136-152. Iser discusses The Sound and the Fury as an example of typical modernist works like James Joyce's. Iser probably misses part of the truth of those modernist works, their authors' deep-seated involvement with cultural marginality.
11 William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury, the Corrected Text (New York: Vintage, 1984), 86.
12 Absalom, 4.
13 In the final chapter of Absalom, a sense of liberation comes back with "darkness": "Then the darkness seemed to breathe, to flow back . . . forced by the weight of the darkness, the blood surged and ran warmer, warmer." Absalom, 288.
14 Fredric Jameson, Signatures of the Visible (New York: Routledge, 1992), 128-152.
15 This awareness of the absence of the father is the basic core of the theoretical aspect of the historical consciousness of Faulkner and Quentin Compson. As historical consciousness, it simply means that "the south" which Quentin Compson idealizes and tries to recover in his historical narration did not exist at all as tangible presence.
16 Karatani Kojin explains Chi-no Hate Shijo-no Toki : "'modern fictions,' whether it is clearly demarcated or not, has an oedipal relationship as its core, because 'the self' or the 'inside' of consciousness takes shape in that relationship. But the oedipal relationship is destroyed in Chi-no Hate Shijo-no Toki . . . . I saw Nakagami destroy 'the modern novel' itself." This comment is also valid as an explanation of Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! Karatani Kojin, "Postscript for Chi-no Hate Shijo-no Toki," Kenji Nakagami, Chino-hate Shijo-no Toki (Tokyo: Shincho-sha, 1993), 607-608.
17 John T. Irwin, Doubling & Incest/Repetition & Revenge: A Speculative Reading of Faulkner (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins U.P., 1975), 5.
18 Irwin, 9.
19 Irwin, 8-9.
20 In the followoing important passage in Absalom, Absalom!, Faulkner suggests the possibility that the relationship between the preceding authority Thomas Sutpen and Quentin Compson can be interchangeable: "Yes, we are both Father. Or maybe Father and I are both Shreve, maybe it took Father and me both to make Shreve or Shreve and me both to make Father or maybe Thomas Sutpen to make all of us" (italics original). Absalom, 210.
21 Carlos Fuentes, "García Márquez: The Second Reading," Eureka: García Márquez Special Issue, August 1988, 118. Translated by the author of this article from the Japanese translated version of the Spanish original.
22 Other "modern" writers and thinkers also point out the same structure in artistic creations. For example, Martin Heidegger makes a similar remark to Irwin's, probably with Freud's theses in mind, in his well-known, problematical discussion of the "origin" of the work of art. According to Heidegger, "denial" is essential to "truth": "At bottom, the ordinary is not ordinary; it is extra-ordinary, uncanny. The nature of truth, that is, of unconcealedness, is dominated throughout by a denial. Yet this denial is not a defect or a fault, as though truth were an unalloyed unconcealedness that has rid itself of everything concealed. If truth could accomplish this, it would no longer be itself. This denial, in the form of a double concealment, belongs to the nature of truth as unconcealedness (italics original)." Martin Heidegger, "The Origin of the Work of Art," in Poetry, Language, Thought, trans. Albert Hofstadter (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), 54. Faulkner also shares assumptions with other modern thinkers, not only Henry Bergson, who Faulkner criticism have traditionally admitted as one of the main sources of Faulkner's thought, but also Nietzsche, Freud, as Irwin points out, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre, and others. One critic at least have found the same problematics in Faulkner and S&oulm;ren Kierkegaard. That these thinkers and writers shared assumptions basically means they commonly took the modern problematics of Husserlean "crisis of Western thought" seriously. What distinguishes Faulkner from other writers who addressed themselves to the same problematics, Foedor Dostoevsky, Herman Melville, Henry James, and others, is probably his inexhaustible investigation of the "consciousness" in the form of the novel, including its thematic and formal implications, in works written before The Hamlet. Just as Nakagami Kenji changed his mode of writing after Chino-hate Shijo-no Toki, in works like Juyroku-no Miyako and Hosenka, Faulkner gave up his investigation of the phases of male "consciousness," probably with Harry Willbourne's beautiful determination to remember at the end of "The Wild Palms" section of If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem!, and changed the strategies of his writing into the investigation of a new mode, what might be called a "postmodern realism," from The Hamlet. García Márquez and Nakagami must have understood the thematic and formal implications of Faulkner's late works. Oe Kenzaburo, another Japanese writer, also testifies to the importance of Faulkner's shift in style and form. He chose the Snopes trilogy as his subject when he lectured on Faulkner. As Oe acutely perceived, the focus of Faulkner's fictions shifts from white male "consciousness" to what Oe calls "the feminine" in later works, especially in the Snopes trilogy. Oe says in the lecture: "The feature of Faulkner's writing that most stimulates my imagination always involves the feminine, although this may sound too simple. The feature seems to me to appear most in the Snopes trilogy." Oe Kenzaburo, "Reading Faulkner from a Writer's Point of View," in Kenzaburo Ohashi and Kiyoyuki Ono, eds., Faulkner Studies in Japan (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1985), 63. García Márquez, Nakagami Kenji, and Oe Kenzaburo perceived the importance of Faulkner's representation of "the feminine," the negative aspect of his investigation of the male white consciousness which comes into focus in his late works after he gave up the investigation of his white male ego, and, following his lead, created characters like García Márquez's Ursula in One Hundred Years' Solitude and other great mothers, Nakagami's Fusa in Hosenka and other works, and Oe's postmodern serial jeremiad, "Women Listening to 'The Rain Tree." Faulkner works thus anticipated and paradoxically set examples for the later, still continuing literary and critical movements which commonly go against modernists' tenets, which, probably, Faulkner himself did not believe in finally.
Copywright (C) 1999 Kato Yuji