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Monday, December 20, 2010


Slowly but surely I am working my way through the Faulkner canon. Now Mosquitoes, one of his earliest novels, only the second one published in fact. Eve more so than Faulkner's third novel Sartoris it is clear that Mosquitoes was not written by the author that found his voice in his later works. There are hints of it here and there, the philosophizing and theorizing on what happened and why. Yet, for the most part this Faulkner is much less of what makes him himself and so mythical later on. Much of the book is based on dialogue for example and not the extended reported dialogues or monologues of later books that allow for so much more twisting and turning within the protagonists' thought processes.

What was striking about Mosquitoes, negatively I dare say, is the portrayal of women which Faulkner proposes here. First of all are most of his active characters (Quentin Compson, Thomas Sutpen, Lucas Beauchamp...) men of course, women are objects only in most of his writing. Here they remain objects while being actors also. This, from a feminist point of view, leads to a deplorable portrayal of women as selfish, vain, really kind of stupid and erratic. There might be one, semi-sensible woman part of this novel, yet she of course is alone and desperately looking for a man, any man really. The starkness of this portrayal is really quite ridiculous from today's point of view and Faulkner being Faulkner I cannot hold a grudge against him for It. Yet, it's too blatant an issue in this novel to ignore it. Men in a way are not necessarily portrayed as better human beings, but rather as failed yet intelligent ones. That means where the women don't think and act stupidly, men do so as well but against their better judgement.

Mosquitoes thus is mainly of interest as the early work of a great writer who has penned an interesting novel not yet on the level of where he will be a few years later. Stemming from the pen of anyone else, this review would focus more onto the novel's strengths because it is a beautiful read still just overshadowed by what was too come.

Finally, a completely baseless hypothesis. I wonder whether Sartre's Mouches were inspired (for the title alone) by this novel. Ever since I read Le Sursis, I've mentally associated the two and it would seem to make sense for Sartre to turn the constant annoyance of the mosquitoes in Faulkner's novel to a play of his own. Or maybe not, but somehow it made sense when I came up with it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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