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Mark Coburn <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 7 Dec 2006 09:37:54 -0700
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I for one enjoyed your message and your enthusiasm.

It's always worth recalling that when Faulkner, during an interview, was
asked to name his favorite characters, his reply started something like
"Huck and Jim, of course."  And THEN he went on to list characters by
Dickens and Shakespeare.

He also included Sut Lovingood in his list, and explained to the interviewer
who Sut was.  Sometimes I think that's as important as Faulkner's debt to
Twain:   Their common roots in the Southwest humor tradition.

I've always loved Faulkner's way of spinning the same material as tragedy
and comedy.  (In that regard, I think he transcended Twain and nearly all
other American authors.)
"The Bear" is tragedy.  But you might enjoy the short story "A Bear Hunt,"
which is told by a hick version of Ratliff, the great comic character in The

Similarly, when told by Ratliff in The Hamlet the tale of Ab(?) Snopes
tracking manure on DeSpain's fine carpet and the events that followed is
richly  comic.  But when seen through the eyes of a child who desperately
wants to love his warped father, "Barn Burning" becomes a deeply moving tale
of initiation.

Do you know The Sound and the Fury?  Jason Compson, it seems to me, shows
what could be done with Huck Finn's kind of voice, if the speaker were a
nasty adult rather than a loveable child.   And again, there's that
incredible, Shakespeare-like jumping between the tragic and the darkly
comic:  For 90 pages we live inside the sad, sad mind of Quentin Compson, on
the day that ends when he goes off to drown himself.   And then we turn the
page and have Jason:  "Of course I never got to go to Harvard, where they
teach you to take a swim without knowing how to swim..."

Thanks for the reminder of how great Faulkner can be.

Mark Coburn