Thursday, August 21, 2014

William Faulkner's "An Odor of Verbena" allusion, narrative style, and eternal verities

Link to William Faulkner's: "An Odor of Verbena" pdf.via

One allusion Faulkner uses in this short story, is from the Bible:

Matthew 26:52 New International Version (NIV)
52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword."

Allusion and other italicized parts the story:
"Who lives by the sword shall die by it..."(Faulkner 214).
"At last it has happened" (Faulkner 214).
"At least this will be the chance to find out if I am what I think I am or if I just hope; if I am going to do what I taught myself is right or if I am just going to wish I were..."(Faulkner 215).

This story speaks to the "eternal" verities of the past, which leads me to think about the teachings in Faulkner's writings.
Faulkner's story is set in Mississippi, and takes place in the post Civil War Deep South. His vocabulary is amazing, with words like "presentiment", interwoven with concise and tension filled dialogue. The story also contains a common element of Faulknerian writing, which can be very disorientating, but also attractive over time; Faulkner's stories jump from past to present and blend these elements in a way that makes it all seems to morph together into the author's myopic dream vision perspectives of past occurrences and their effects on the present. This vision, which was fueled by large amounts of bourbon, horse back riding, and sitting on country porches slinging hunting stories, make the writer and his work classic.