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Intruder in the Dust: Typescript Draft, Typesetting Copy, and Miscellaneous Material (William Faulkner Manuscripts, No. 17) Hardcover – March 1, 1987
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In a small Mississippi town in 1948, black Lucas Beauchamp is wrongfully arrested for shooting white Vinson Cowrie in the back. Sixteen-year old Charles Mallison owes Lucas a debt of honor incurred four years ago. Lucas hires Charles' cynical uncle, Gavin Stevens, to defend him. The most pressing matter is not Lucas' guilt or innocence; it is keeping him from getting lynched before he is arraigned. Lucas is a nightmare of a client. He is stubborn, stiff necked and proud. He dresses like an old time plantation owner and neither owes nor accepts favors from anyone. Uncle Gavin is trying to save Lucas' neck while Charles is trying to clear him. Gavin laments that Lucas would be easier to keep alive if "he would just ACT like a n----r." This Lucas refuses to do. There is body snatching, graveyards at night and some thoroughly frightening characters to liven up the journey.
Another reviewer mentioned "drunk on his prose," and it is a very apt description. It works best if read aloud; you will find Faulkner's rhythm and make it your own. The long sentences don't trouble if you just let his prose carry you along. Mr. Faulkner thinks any southern woman over 35 years old is a secret Amazon of quiet strength and fortitude, which makes for interesting characters, but is a little hard on credibility. There is long section on how "outsiders" (read "Northerners") have interfered and thereby delayed integration. However true or false this may be, it slowed the story down and seemed tacked on.Read more ›
One day a local white man named Vinson Gowrie is found shot to death, and a black man named Lucas Beauchamp is arrested at the scene and charged with the murder. In this part of the country at this time in history, a black man who is even suspected of murdering a white man is in danger of being lynched, especially by people like Gowrie's relatives, who are from a particularly rough and bloodthirsty enclave living in an area called Beat Four.
The story is told in the third person but from the viewpoint of a white boy named Charles "Chick" Mallison, who in the past has tried to befriend the solitary but kind Beauchamp and is convinced of his innocence. With the help of his uncle Gavin Stevens, a lawyer who decides to represent Beauchamp, his black friend Aleck Sander, and an elderly spinster named Miss Habersham, Chick investigates the matter and discovers, unsurprisingly, that there is more to the case than initially meets the eye.Read more ›
Tolstoy once wrote that the success of any work of art depends ultimately upon the artist's maintaining an "independent moral relation" to his subject, and that he who does not bring to his work a fresh and enlightened view of the universe will invariably fail in attempting to create good art. Applying this criterion to Intruder in the Dust, Faulkner's novel stands as a paradigm of great art; for its moral scope and philosophical perspective are singularly awesome. Faulkner is simultaneously sympathetic toward and critical of that Southern society which serves as his subject, and yet he manages never to stoop to petty preaching or outright sermonizing. His work is a marvel of artistic delicacy and intensity. Bravo.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Of the ten Faulkner novels I have read, this is my least favorite. The main reason: the subject matter does not seem to fit the language. Read morePublished 10 months ago by gammyraye
Normally I love Faulkner, but this book was like wading through a thick swamp.Published 17 months ago by Sadie McCarley
The world is entitled to its opinion, but on reading this, I felt that Faulkner is the most over-rated writer I have ever encountered. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Richard Stein