More on Forster, Faulkner, and time

As I started to explore in a previous post, E.M. Forster’s 1910 novel Howards End dramatizes “the waning of spatial integration,” or the tension between a traditional spatial orientation and a modern temporal orientation. The novel shows how the automobile disrupts spatial orientation. We also see this in Faulkner‘s work beginning a couple of decades later. Faulkner writes a lot about the impact of the automobile on traditional southern, agrarian culture. Families like the Compsons (in The Sound and the Fury, etc.) have to sell off parts of their land. And Faulkner writes endlessly about time. For example, here is the beginning of the Quentin section of The Sound and the Fury (1929).

When the shadow of the sash appeared on the curtains it was between seven and eight oclock and then I was in time again, hearing the watch. It was Grandfather’s and when Father gave it to me he said, Quentin, I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire; it’s rather excruciating-ly apt that you will use it to gain the reducto absurdum of all human experience which can fit your individual needs no better than it fitted his or his father’s. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.

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