Beginning in September, Philip Weinstein, an Aquinnah summer resident and the Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor of Literature at Swarthmore College, will present a six part workshop on American novelist William Faulkner at the Vineyard Haven Public Library. Three of Faulkner’s novels will be studied: As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, and Light in August.
Philip Weinstein is a former President of the William Faulkner Society, author of three books on the novelist, and a life-time student and teacher of Faulkner's work. Professor Weinstein will provide background and teaching sheets for each novel, but his aim will be to enable all participants to contribute to a developing discussion of what Faulkner means and why he matters.
In describing his approach to this series, Professor Weinstein has said "Faulkner’s great fiction is undeniably challenging to read. In exactly the same measure it offers its rewards: the difficulty and the value are inseparable." Participants will "work to make sense, together, of the nature of Faulkner’s genius—its challenge and its rewards."
In order to prepare enough materials the library requests that patrons sign up online or at the library main desk. The three novels may be requested through CLAMS. All programs will be held on Tuesday evenings beginning at 7pm at the Vineyard Haven Public Library. Scheduled class dates and readings appear below:
Tuesday, September 24th, 7 pm
As I Lay Dying
Faulkner depicts the besieged and impoverished poor-white Bundrens with empathy and grace. Using a flexible stream-of-consciousness technique that allows him to convey the quick of their thoughts and feelings--both their absurdity and their pathos--he conveys in under 200 pages the rhythms and realities of an entire Southern world.
Tuesdays, October 22nd & November 5th, 7 pm
The Sound and the Fury
This is Faulkner's breakthrough novel, his first masterpiece, arguably his greatest. Via the stream-of-consciousness narratives of Benjy, Quentin, and Jason Compson (three siblings), The Sound and the Fury tells the intricate story of the once-aristocratic Compson family. At the center of the drama is the passionate Caddy Compson, the doomed offspring of a family obsessed with virginity in a world that no longer has room for that notion. Faulkner has written this tragic novel in such a way that its stunning coherence comes only gradually--and then overwhelmingly--into focus.
Tuesdays, November 19th, December 3rd & December 10th, 7 pm
Light in August
Light In August is Faulkner's richest novel of racial turmoil in the early twentieth-century South. The central figure, Joe Christmas, suffers from an ongoing crisis of not knowing whether he "is" white or black. Juxtaposed against Christmas and providing resonance to his drama are the pregnant and unmarried Lena Grove, the frustrated abolitionist spinster, Joanna Burden, the past-obsessed Reverend Hightower, the Calvinist extremist Mc Eachern, the bachelor Byron Bunch, and several others, each of them playing his or her role in a developing drama that is at once comic and tragic.