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Title: Hiding and seeking : form, vision, and history in William Faulkner and John Dos Passos
Author: Harding, James William
ISNI:       0000 0004 2724 2448
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis investigates how two distinctive and conflicting literary modernisms generate, and subsequently attempt to deal with the proliferation of difficult historical meaning. Part one scrutinizes three novels from William Faulkner's middle period, The Sound and the Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), and Sanctuary (1931). Its arguments issue from three linked assumptions: first, that semantic meaning, in Faulkner, resides within the smallest of textual locations; second, that this meaning is insistently historical; and third, that the attempt to hide its release as historical meaning generates a formal opacity that, in turn, occasions acutely visual problems at the level of the text. Specific attention is drawn to what I consider to be the “compacted doctrines” (Empson) of Faulkner's prose: the pronoun. It is argued that, in these three novels, historically sedimented meaning congeals in three single words: “them”, “I” and finally, “it”. If Faulkner's texts come into meaning at the level of the word, John Dos Passos' come into meaning at the level of the concept. What was “small”, begrudging, and intractable in Faulkner becomes “big”, abundant, and eminently retrievable in Dos Passos. The semantic “concept” to which I attend is The Camera Eye, a place of visual efficiency. Two parallel concerns drive these chapters. First, I claim that The Camera Eye is the preeminent site of the dialectic in U.S.A.; second, that these episodes provide the formal indices for Dos Passos' shift in political intensities. Sustaining an antagonistic tension between aesthetic modernity and historical memory, however, these mechanical integers problematize their own semantic productions. With reference to the generation of surplus and to Marx's concept of “hoarding” I route the (over)production of the textual product, and its subsequent channelling into distinct textual locations, into conversations regarding commodification, reification and the division of labour.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PS0221 20th century