Luce d'agosto

PDF EBook by William Faulkner

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Light in August, William Faulkner's Portraits of Loneliness and Isolation

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Light in August, First Edition, Smith & download; Haas, New York, New York, 1032

"Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders." William Faulkner, "Light in August," Chapter Six, Paragraph One.

It takes guts to write a review of one of the great American novels by one of the great American writers.I could call it chutzpah.But I'm not Jewish.Just call it Irish-American blarney with a bit of a Cracker twist and a streak of red over my shirt collar.After all, I'm from Alabama.

The truth of the matter is there's been worse hacks than me that tried to take a hatchet to William Faulkner.It's hard to believe any man could be that damned good.Some men, critics for the most part, just can't live with how good he is.So they say he isn't.

But I'm in Oxford, Mississippi this morning.What Oxford hasn't torn down and replaced with high rise apartments and condominiums still leaves traces of William Faulkner that are there for anyone to see if they take the time to look for it.

Last night I met a lovely young woman and her mother over at Square Books.They were down from Joplin, Missouri, for the daughter to take the tour of Ole Miss.She's already been accepted at the University of Alabama, but she thought she should take the Ole Miss tour.

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Where you meet the most interesting people in Oxford

We met in the Faulkner section.They were there first.Both were lovely.The daughter was seventeen.Her mother was graced with a timeless beauty that must give her daughter a good deal of satisfaction at what she has to look forward to when she takes a hard look in the mirror in forty years or so.

"Oh," the mother said, "We're in the way."

"No Ma'am.You're not.I never step between a young woman and William Faulkner.It's always nice to see."

"Mom, I don't know which one to get."

"Sweetheart, get all you want.Wherever you go to school, you'll want them."

"But if I get them all, then I'll want to read them all.I'll read them too fast and I won't get what I need to get out of them."

The temptation was too great.

"Miss, just how much Faulkner have you read?"

"I've only read 'The Sound and the Fury.'I don't know where to go next."

I have to admit it.I kind of let out a sigh, and sat down in one of those big easy chairs, conveniently placed by all the works of Faulkner and the many references published by various scholars through the Ole Miss Press.

"Have you ever felt like you didn't belong somewhere?Didn't fit in?"

She had already told me she was seventeen going on eighteen.I figured it was a safe bet she remembered being fifteen pretty well.Fifteen year olds get not belonging anywhere.

I saw her mother smile.

"Well, sure.Hasn't everybody?"

"Oh, yeah.Everybody.That copy of 'Light in August' you're holding there.It's all about that.Nobody in that book belongs where they ought to be."

So over the next few minutes I told her about Lena, walking all the way to Jefferson from Doane's Mill, Alabama looking for the man that made her pregnant.I told her about Joe Christmas, left on the step of an orphanage on Christmas morning, beaten by his foster parent because he couldn't learn his catechism.I told her about Joanna Burden being a Yankee from an abolitionist family who was never welcome in Yoknapatawpha County.And I told her about Preacher Gail Hightower whose wife left him and then committed suicide and how his own congregation wished he wasn't the man in the pulpit.

I asked if she knew what light in august meant.She shook her head no.I told her how livestock dropped their young in August.And I asked her if she'd ever seen those few days of peculiar light on an August day when the shadows were at their deepest and just before dark, before the shadows turned to black how everything flashed gold for just a few seconds, so fast, if you weren't looking for it you would miss it.She hadn't noticed.I told her when she lived some more years she would see it.

There was a tear in her mother's eye.I wondered if she still hadn't seen it.

"Tell me about the man.Tell me about William Faulkner."

And I did.I told her about how he wanted to go to war.How he lied about being shot down.How he wore his Canadian RAF Uniform around Oxford.I told her about Estelle, how he loved her, how he lost her, how he got her back and then wished he hadn't.

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William and Estelle Oldham Faulkner, who called the quality of the light in August to her husband's attention

I told her to read, read everything—that Faulkner said that.I told her how he checked mysteries out out of Mac Reed's Drug Store and people started stealing his check out cards because they figured his autograph would be worth something one day.

We ended up laughing and talking a good while.

"Say.If I went to Ole Miss, would you be one of my professors?"

I don't know what it is that makes people think that.Maybe it's the old cardigan sweater with the leather buttons.Maybe it's the white beard.I don't know.It happens a lot, though.

"No, I'm not a professor.I grew up and became Gavin Stevens.I'm a lawyer."

They both laughed.We exchanged pleasantries, information.I told her mother that if her daughter ended up in Tuscaloosa, she could always call me.The daughter left with "Light in August," and "Absalom, Absalom."

The young man working the coffee bar brought me over a cup of coffee in a Flannery O'Connor mug."It's on the house.You sold that Faulkner."

"No.I sold HER on Faulkner.There's a difference."

"Sir, you know something?You should have been a professor."

Yeah.Maybe so.But everybody's gotta be somewhere, whether they fit in there, or not.Well, it's 8:30.Store opens at nine.They want me in the Faulkner section today if I can stop by.I could use another cup of coffee.

Dedicated to the memory of Miss Maxine Lustig, my guide to Yoknapatawpha County and many other wondrous worlds. Like this book? Read online this: Dreams in Shadow - Seventeen Stories All Told, Accecati dalla luce.

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