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.
This course examines major works by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner, exploring their interconnections on three analytic scales: the macro history of the United States and the world; the formal and stylistic innovations of modernism; and the small details of sensory input and psychic life.
Warning: Some of the lectures in this course contain graphic content and/or adult language that some users may find disturbing.
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