Light in August

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William Faulkner. Light in August. London: Chatto and Windus, 1933.

The first British edition of this novel was published with a dust jacket that emphasizes loneliness and alienation from community. The black figure of a solitary man is evocative of the same mood as that suggested by the single cabin highlighted by various rays of light which Smith selected for the jacket of the first American edition. Two later paperback editions accomplish the same: a man standing facing an empty road and the single noose starkly drawn against a background of bright light.

Most critics would agree with these publishers. The novel works with themes Faulkner used before: extreme isolation of the individual in the modern world, the divided and alienated self, the individual (like Bayard Sartoris, Quentin Compson, and Joe Christmas) who cannot relate to his society and thus cannot establish a human identity. With this novel, however, Faulkner demonstrates that isolation can do more than merely cause suffering; it can lead to dehumanization and evil which, in turn, are exacerbated by racial division and dissolution of social order.

William Faulkner.Light in August. New York: Penguin, 1967.

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Last Modified: August 1998