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Doubling and Incest / Repetition and Revenge: A Speculative Reading of Faulkner Paperback – March 14, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0801852312 ISBN-10: 0801852315 Edition: Revised & enlarged

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; Revised & enlarged edition (March 14, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801852315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801852312
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,197,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Breathtaking.... Makes most other psychological studies of literature and books on Faulkner look as superficial as 'Cliff's Notes.'.

(Sheldon Brivic Journal of Modern Literature)

Without doubt John Irwin's slim and elegant yet unpretentiously delivered Doubling and Incest/Repetition and Revenge is the best Faulkner criticism we have to date, and probably the best we will have for some time to come.

(Richard King Salmagundi)

Readers will be tempted to devour this fascinating book at a single sitting.

(Doris L. Eder Studies in American Fiction)

John Irwin has created a critical work of art. His form is musical, his informing myths are Freudian and Romantic, and his theme is the artist's revenge against time.

(George H. Gilpin Faulkner Studies)

Truly prophetic.... [Irwin] has finally given us a definitive psychology of Faulknerian time.

(David M. Wyatt Virginia Quarterly Review)

The most exciting book of criticism on Faulkner to appear in many years.... Displays a subtler and more comprehensive understanding of the Oedipal pattern than is to be found in any previous psychoanalytic criticism of Faulkner's fiction.... Should have profound influence on Faulkner studies in the years to come.

(Karl F. Zender American Literary Scholarship)

One of the most complex, stimulating, and potentially controversial books in the whole range of Faulkner criticism.

(Joseph Blotner Michigan Quarterly Review)

About the Author

John T. Irwin is Decker Professor of the Humanities and chair of the Writing Seminars at the Johns Hopkins University. His books include The Mystery to a Solution, American Hieroglyphics, and The Heisenberg Variations, all available from Johns Hopkins.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Charles B. Glennon on September 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
Irwin's book was recommended by a professor years ago, when I was reading Light in August. I bought it then but I found I needed to read Absalom! Absalom! and The Sound and the Fury closely before I could get anywhere with this book. Though Freud is pivotal in Irwin's review, his use of Freud is flexible, not dogmatic. Jungian snippets (the shadow nature of the unconscious)emerge from time to time as well. The book is essentially an investigation into Quentin Compson's struggles with incest and impotence that leads to his suicide, yet it also applies to the South's loss of the Civil War and general outrages resulting from human frustration.
Irwin's connections between S&F and Absalom are most helpful to my understanding of Faulkner's larger vision of generation and life. Irwin is a true scholar of Faulkner, well read in Freud, tragedy, and of course William Faulkner. I have not seen a better portrayal of the problem of revenge against time and Oedipal fury in any other book. Elements of Nietzsche are coupled with Freud-- Irwin is well aware of the connections between these two-- and the connections between fate and the psyche's imprisonment in endless repetitive frustrations are very well developed. I hate to use the cliche "a must read", so I'll say that Faulkner readers who need a little something extra -- not pedantic, nor too academic, but informative-- will want to read this one.
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Format: Paperback
There is no doubt that this is an interesting book, full of valid insights into Faulkner's novels (especially The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom!) I do have some reservations about the book which I will get to later, but first, I will explain why I think this book is worth reading. Irwin presents a Freudian reading of Faulkner's work. Of course, it is common place nowadays to compare pretty much any author who admits the existence of the unconscious to Freud, but the Freud Irwin presents in this work is not pop Freud, and the similarities that Irwin sees between Faulkner and Freud are not superficial. Irwin presents a pretty orthodox version of Freudian theory in this work: the Oedipal triangle, the repetition compulsion, and the return of the repressed are central to his analysis.

This leads to some pretty interesting insights into Faulkner's characters. For example, Irwin argues that Henry and Bon represent different aspects of Quentin. Bon is the brother-seducer, a representative of Quentin's incestuous desires which he has to repress, and Henry represents the brother-avenger who has the task of punishing the brother-seducer. By telling and retelling the story of Henry and Bon Quentin is, in effect, trying to resolve the conflict within himself. The conflict is compounded by the fact that Quentin's father was emasculated by Quentin's mother, and passes on his own failure, nihilism, and fatalism to Quentin. Without a masculine role model Quentin is ineffectual in his attempt to punish Dalton Ames for taking Caddy's virginity.
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0 of 21 people found the following review helpful By derik on November 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
repetition and revenge:a speculative reading of faulkne
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