Literary History

Literary history of As I Lay Dying 1998-2010

Forty-eight articles, book chapters, or books have been published in English the last decade. Issues of modernism, motherhood, class, body, and nationalism/America are most prevalent (with modernism and motherhood at the forefront). Modern aesthetics gets much space, with articles comparing the novel to cubanism and surrealism, but modern social theories about community and materialism also get space. This text is compared to works by Willa Cather, Zora Neal Hurston, Eudora Welty, and even Erskine Caldwell. The articles often turn to psychoanalytic theories of Sigmond Freud, social theories of Michele Foucault or modernist theories of Raymond Williams.

There are at least six critical works that address motherhood/Addie. The main cited critics include: David Williams, Doreen Fowler, Jill Bergman, DianaYork Blaine, Katherine Henninger, and Minrose Gwin

Marc Hewson “'My Children Were of Me Alone': Maternal Influence in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying” Mississippi Quarterly: The Journal of Southern Cultures
Addie instills “the importance of intuitive love and of language's inadequacy to express it that … in her sons … Following their mother, the male Bundren children eschew the patriarchal model, presented in the figure of Anse, in favour of the emotionally active feminine principle… . Addle has taught them the importance not of language but of feeling.”

Diana York Blaine “The Abjection of Addie and Other Myths of the Maternal in As I Lay Dying” William Faulkner: Six Decades of Criticism. Ed. Linda Wagner-Martin. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State UP
Blain argues that Faulkner undermines the power of Addie; “we see a woman as symbol of power eclipsed as she ascends, her putative centrality undermined by the symbolic system that subsumes her abject corpse into the ground at the end. So … she functions , a direct descendent of Eve, as the agent of chaos and representative of death.”

Cinda Gault “The Two Addies: Maternity and Language in William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and Alice Munro's Lives of' Girls and Women” American Review of Canadian Studies
Gault argues that Faulkner highlights the “physical constraints” and “containment” of mothers by society. Faulkner emphasizes the “disempowerment [women] experience as mothers in their relationship to language.”

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