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Title: An aesthetic consciousness : an existentialist reading of William Faulkner's fiction
Author: Heller, Maya
ISNI:       0000 0004 6347 4190
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis presents an existentialist reading of William Faulkner’s early fiction (1925-31). Moving away from a regionalist perspective the thesis argues that Faulkner’s work can be viewed as part of a universal and aesthetic exploration of the human condition. By focusing specifically on Jean-Paul Sartre’s early philosophy (1930s-40s) and the concepts of consciousness, the duality of being: being-in-itself (the world of objects) and being-for-itself (human consciousness), the thesis investigates the way in which consciousness operates ontologically in Faulkner’s prose. It argues that a decidedly existentialist consciousness can be traced in Faulkner, one in which a linked relationship between imagination and reality lays bare the fragility of the characters and a sense of displacement in Faulkner’s fiction. Within the context of existentialism, the thesis also emphasizes the importance of the artist figure within Faulkner’s writing. As the embodiment of existential action and choice, the artist in Faulkner’s fiction reflects a sense of liberation and freedom. In this context, the existentialist reading re- examines the way the artist’s sense of reality hinges on the interaction between human consciousness and the world of objects, between Faulkner’s representation of art (text, painting and sculpture) and form and technique (fragmentation and multiple perspective).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral