Jones, Lori Damaris
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The following chapters developed from my interest in Faulkner’s dialogue with other writers. More specifically, they developed from my interest in those moments where acts of reading—whether stated or implied—appear integral to characterization or to the reinforcement of theme. The subject of Faulkner’s acts of reading or evocations of text was a subject that, of course, demanded parameters. As I was drawn to relevant moments within The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, Sanctuary, Flags in the Dust, and The Wild Palms, the parameters for this dissertation manifested themselves in a rather organic way. First, these works are interrelated at a fundamental level because they are elaborations, I believe, of an ongoing dialogue that Faulkner held with Macbeth’s dark and unforgettable soliloquy. In Shakespeare’s tragedy, the King proclaims that life is nothing more than “a tale / told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing.” Faulkner’s complex texts—each in its own way—search the question of life’s meaningfulness. The felt and heard presence of Macbeth provides us with a ground for understanding the acts of reading or textual echoes in Faulkner’s works, for they are, in effect, other avenues of approach to the existential questions raised by Macbeth’s speech. Faulkner’s tendency is to grapple with the kinds of cosmic and philosophic issues raised in Macbeth’s famous soliloquy, and he is drawn to other writers, such as Tennyson, Shelley, Flaubert, and Schopenhauer, who display similarly dark preoccupations.