Goldsmiths - University of London

An Aesthetic Consciousness: An Existentialist Reading of William Faulkner’s Fiction

Heller, Maya. 2017. An Aesthetic Consciousness: An Existentialist Reading of William Faulkner’s Fiction. Other thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (An Aesthetic Consciousness: An Existentialist Reading of William Faulkner’s Fiction)
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Abstract or Description

This thesis presents an existentialist reading of William Faulkner’s early
fiction (1925-31). Moving away from a regionalist perspective the thesis
argues that Faulkner’s work can be viewed as part of a universal and aesthetic
exploration of the human condition. By focusing specifically on Jean-Paul
Sartre’s early philosophy (1930s-40s) and the concepts of consciousness, the
duality of being: being-in-itself (the world of objects) and being-for-itself (human
consciousness), the thesis investigates the way in which consciousness
operates ontologically in Faulkner’s prose. It argues that a decidedly
existentialist consciousness can be traced in Faulkner, one in which a linked
relationship between imagination and reality lays bare the fragility of the
characters and a sense of displacement in Faulkner’s fiction.

Within the context of existentialism, the thesis also emphasizes the
importance of the artist figure within Faulkner’s writing. As the embodiment
of existential action and choice, the artist in Faulkner’s fiction reflects a sense
of liberation and freedom. In this context, the existentialist reading re-
examines the way the artist’s sense of reality hinges on the interaction
between human consciousness and the world of objects, between Faulkner’s
representation of art (text, painting and sculpture) and form and technique
(fragmentation and multiple perspective).

Item Type: Thesis (Other)


Existentialism, Sartre, Faulkner, Cubism, Modernism, As I Lay Dying, Sanctuary, Mosquitoes, Elmer

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


31 February 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

27 Mar 2017 14:31

Last Modified:

27 Mar 2017 14:31

URI: http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/20118

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