Magic Faulknerism

Snopes TrilogyYesterday was the natal day of William Faulkner. As the names of the major novels loved and feared by English grad students swirled in my head, it came to me that what I really love about him is his Snopes Trilogy: The HamletThe Town, and The Mansion. I considered why this would be, when it isn’t the one I admire most (Absalom, Absalom!, from afar), when it came to me that it’s because that trilogy is his One Hundred Years of Solitude. That little voice in my head said, “But it’s not really magic realism, is it? Where’s the eruption of the fabulous?” And it’s true: there’s not that much that’s fabulous in those novels except the Snopes family’s capacity for corruption, venality, and fraud. But those are amazing. And the names. Flem Snopes’s mere existence, to say nothing of his escapade with the Texas ponies, is worth the cost of the trilogy. That’s enough. And perfectly American.