Date of Award

Fall 12-14-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Pearl McHaney

Second Advisor

Dr. LeeAnne Richardson

Third Advisor

Dr. Thomas McHaney

Abstract

This study focuses on the early fiction of William Faulkner, particularly Mosquitoes. Understood in critical context, this novel suffers from retrospective bias. That is, I believe that the brilliant work that immediately (and continually) succeeded this novel provided a critical comparison that made it impossible to ascribe the appropriate value that this second novel truly deserves. Mosquitoes was not only a necessary portal and stepping stone to his later/greater fiction, but it also stands on its own as a brilliant experiment allowing Faulkner to free himself from bonds of fragmented mimesis by submerging himself in his own social, literary, theological, and psychological influences, both past and present. Faulkner created a balance between the tension he felt of a traditional Christianity that was deeply ingrained into his southern psyche and a modern influence that consisted of Nietzsche, Freud, Bergson, and others. Although Mosquitoes is now often considered Faulkner’s weakest work, I argue that it is a coherent statement about the South, the past, and important human values, human values that find their origins in the rich religious soil of southern Christianity. Mosquitoes is more than a necessary step toward Faulkner’s later success; it is a literary philosophical leap into genius.

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