Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner: Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (Lecture 6 of 25) Yale | Fall 2011

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Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner (AMST 246)

Professor Wai Chee Dimock begins her discussion of The Sound and the Fury by presenting Faulkner's main sources for the novel, including Act V, Scene 5 of Macbeth and theories of mental deficiency elaborated by John Locke and Henry Goddard. Her main focus is on the experimental subjectivity of the novel's first section which is narrated by Benjy Compson, a mentally retarded 33 year old who is completely innocent of his family's decline and fall in 1920s Jefferson, Mississippi. Professor Dimock traces Benjy's preoccupation with his sister Caddy and her sexual innocence through his sense of smell, and the repeated phrase "Caddy smelled like trees." She concludes by observing that Faulkner protects Benjy from the loss of Caddy by allowing him to move seamlessly between the present and the past, shielding him in his own memories.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Images of Faulkner's Oxford, Mississippi
02:39 - Chapter 2. The Genesis of The Sound and the Fury
09:20 - Chapter 3. Idiocy as Innocence in Benjy's Section
11:17 - Chapter 4. Faulkner and John Locke
13:53 - Chapter 5. Taxonomies of Mental Deficiency
17:40 - Chapter 6. The Subjectivity of "A Tale Told By An Idiot"
20:56 - Chapter 7. Freud and the Sense of Smell
23:27 - Chapter 8. The Sense of Smell as an Index to Sexual Innocence
37:51 - Chapter 9. The Syntactic Consequences of Losing Caddy
43:54 - Chapter 10. Sheilding Benjy through Narrative

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://oyc.yale.edu

This course was recorded in Fall 2011.

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