Saturday, February 18, 2017

Faulkner's Feist

I find that some paragraphs need shattering.

A case in point is this one from William Faulkner's The Bear in which he writes of the little bear-hunting terrier.

The words are all Faulkner, but the carriage returns are my own.

Apologies if the addition of space to the text is an irritation, but this is such an intricate piece of work done in such dense rhetorical wood,  that I fear the good bits may get lost if presented too quickly as a whole.

..[A]nd a little dog,

nameless and mongrel and many-fathered,


yet weighing less than six pounds,

who couldn't be dangerous

because there was nothing anywhere much smaller,

not fierce

because that would have been called just noise,

not humble

because it was already too near the ground to genuflect,

and not proud

because it would not have been close enough

for anyone to discern what was casting that shadow,

and which didn't even know it was not going to heaven

since they had already decided it had no immortal soul,

so that all it could be was brave

even though they would probably call that too

just noise.


seeker said...

This is so my dog. Abbott is a puppy mill bred shorty, only 8 inches tall and ugly for a JRT. But he bravely fought off the EMTs that were coming to take me to the hospital. He bit the policeman, who luckily was our only K9 cop, who forgave him due to circumstances. Very brave, if not very comprehending. Brings tears to the eyes. Thanks for doing this.

Debi and the TX JRTs

Cassandra Was Right said...

The world lost a great poet when Faulkner discovered the paragraph. This is just beautiful in the format you've given it. Well done.

Cassandra Was Right said...

I've just taken on my Marine daughter's Chihuahua for her year of deployment to Afghanistan, and linked to this post from my Facebook entry. It is totally Cuervo, and I hope it's okay with you.

TEC said...

Faulkner, in above snippet, appears to nicely borrow from Shakespeare's Macbeth. The little dog in Faulkner's piece would be thought to be neither fierce/dangerous nor brave; neither proud nor humble. Tough bear hunting dog may be just "sound and fury, signifying nothing", because "they" might call it just "noise".

The candle in Macbeth, and its consequent shadow, (see below) may refer to soul, but "they" fail to discern dog's. Therefore we may be getting Faulkner's personal belief that, because little dog casts a slight shadow, it too possesses one. I want to believe that.

"To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a WALKING SHADOW, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of SOUND AND FURY,
SIGNIFYING NOTHING." (emphasis added)

Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28

-- TEC