William Faulkner's Aesthetic of Immortality: From Shakespeare to Freud and Beyond

Activity: OtherPublic engagement, outreach and knowledge exchange - Public Lecture/debate/seminar


This paper, adapted from the introduction to the monograph William Faulkner and Mortality: A Fine Dead Sound (Routledge, 2021), explores the interconnection between literary (im)mortality and voice throughout much of the work of William Faulkner, one of the foremost modernist writers from the United States. The paper outlines how the pervasive trend of death denial throughout much of Western history influenced Faulkner from the earliest days of his artistic development, beginning in his youth with his reading of Shakespeare’s sonnets and Keats’s odes, through to the impact of Freud’s psychoanalytic ruminations on death at the onset of the First World War. By the end of the talk, Honeini will lay out the intended goals of his study – to shift the critical discussion of death in Faulkner’s oeuvre away from his authorial quest for immortality (“Saying ‘No’ to Death”) and towards the desire for and acceptance of death that many of his most explicitly marginalized characters express in works including The Sound and the Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), “A Rose for Emily” (1930), Light in August (1932), Absalom, Absalom! (1936), and Go Down, Moses (1942). Ultimately, Honeini argues that these characters, finding themselves upon the boundary between life and death, “say Yes to death.” By doing so, they are enabled to tell their stories, finding relief from the suffering they experienced throughout life.
Period5 Mar 2022
Event titleRomancing the Gothic
Event typeWorkshop
Degree of RecognitionInternational