Degree Granting Department
Debra Jacobs, Ph.D.
Elizabeth Metzger, Ph.D.
Lawrence Broer, Ph.D.
Faulkner, Narratology, Postmodernism, Modernism, Rhetorical narratology
This paper argues that narrative techniques in Absalom, Absalom! demonstrate Faulkners anticipation of postmodern thought and style. Similar techniques in Christopher Nolans film Memento serve to highlight how both writer and director confound the notion of master narrative by disrupting chronology and raising questions about the reliability of the narrators in each work. Nolan orders all events of the film in reverse while threading chronologically ordered events throughout to tell the story of Lennys murder investigation. Faulkner likewise uses "dischronology," such as flashbacks to tell the story of Thomas Sutpen. Both Faulkner and Nolan provide key information through questionable narrators at strategic times to manipulate reader's/viewer's thoughts and opinions about specific characters. Nolan and Faulkner use several narrators, none of whom witnessed all events, to tell the stories of each work. A close examination of these similar narrative techniques creates a parallel between two otherwise unrelated works. More importantly, such an examination shows that although Faulkner was a modernist writer, his work Absalom, Absalom! anticipated a postmodern era.
To provide additional support for the argument that Absalom, Absalom! anticipates a postmodernist understanding of Narrativity, this paper will offer a perspective that incorporates ideas of postmodern thought and narratological studies from Seymour Chatman, Gerald Prince, and Julia Kristeva. It will also draw from ideas of such Faulknerian scholars as Donald Kartiganer, Michael Millgate, and David Minter. Against the backdrop such scholarship provides a comparison of the narrative techniques of Absalom, Absalom! and Memento enhances the postmodernist understanding of historical "truth" as necessarily partial, fragmented, and subjective.
Scholar Commons Citation
Williams, Jessica Jain, "Postmodern Narrativity in Absalom, Absalom! and Memento: Examining Telling Similarities in the Techniques of William Faulkner and Christopher Nolan" (2005). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.