Previously Undiscovered Faulkner Manuscript (“Sons of the South”) To Be Published This WeekSaturday, November 25th, 2000
JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI—An academic conference, “Incest, Murder and Mutes in Faulkner’s Early Fiction” was held here last week to discuss the greatest development in the history of Faulkner scholarship—the chance discovery of a previously unknown Faulkner manuscript entitled Sons of the South. The novel is scheduled to be published this month by the University of Mississippi Press.
The conference, held at the University of Mississippi, covered topics such as “Faulkner’s Early Unintelligibility 1926-1931,” “Stream-of-Consciousness and Faulkner’s Alcoholism,” and “Faulkner and Ovid: A Stylistic Comparison”. But the most pressing debates concerned the literary quality of Sons of the South, whether it merited a place alongside such acknowledged masterpieces as The Sound and The Fury, or Light In August. However, it is not clear whether the author is really Faulkner or some imitator.
Sons of the South
Sons of the South, believed to be written early in Faulkner’s career, perhaps during the years 1926-1928, concerns four generations of a great southern family, the McAlisters. During the course of their epic history, the McAlisters settle in Mississippi, steal a small plot of land, develop it into a mighty plantation, sleep with each other and their slaves frequently, fight the Civil War, duel at the slightest pretext, and in the process fashion a family tree bizarre enough to rival Faulkner’s other epic Mississippi families.
As the novel opens, young Ben McCalister, an illiterate mute, is visiting the rotting cabin of his Uncle Slokum, who lies on his deathbed. Uncle Slokum, who appears to be babbling in a fit of delirium, is telling his nephew the most unspeakable secrets about McCalister history despite—or because of—Ben’s inability to relay the stories to another human being. It is clear in his delirium that Slokum—a Catholic convert—sometimes mistakes Ben for a young father-confessor, there to absolve him.
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