I've read a bit of Faulkner and then some. And as someone whose
matrilineal side of the family is from Mississippi, much of what
Faulkner wrote makes a kind of sense to me that is hard to explain to
anyone who is not from the South.
As Mr. Coburn pointed out:
"I've always loved Faulkner's way of spinning the same material as
and comedy. (In that regard, I think he transcended Twain and nearly
other American authors.)"
This is a sentiment I'd have to agree upon in one special respect:
Faulkner didn't tightly set up his audience as much as Twain did,
leaving the reader to either laugh or even frown in uneasy wonder.
Faulkner knew that, depending on a reader's background, that the
reader might take a story as either tragedy or comedy, perhaps both,
and had to spin things in a particular, peculiar way yet one that
left room for readerly wandering. Twain, masterfully no doubt, does
not let the reader wander far at all from where he wants them to be.
He's a master of leading the reader (and in his day the listener)
from point to point, to arrive at the exact punch-line-spot he wants
them to be. Almost never fails in that respect.
But Faulkner knew that the world he wrote about so intimately was one
that did not sometimes naturally transfer well to other regions, that
Yoknapatawpha might be anything from the folks next door to a place
more "Greek" than Greece to many people. He knew that some of the
points he would like the reader to get to might be terra incognita no
matter how well they were written out.
So perhaps yes, in my experience as well, Faulkner does transcend
Twain in this one regard.
Thanks also for reminding me about Faulkner!
B. Adrian van der Wel