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Balzacian Evolution and the Origin of the Snopeses

Balzacian Evolution and the Origin of the Snopeses Balzacian Evolution and the Origin of the Snopeses by Merrill Horton Malcolm Cowley’s short essay “William Faulkner’s Human Comedy” probably created the Honoré de Balzac-William Faulkner source study field by briefly suggesting organizational similarities between La Comédie humaine and Faulkner’s oeuvre. After Cowley, scholars incrementally but steadily added plot, name, and thematic similarities; Philip Cohen pro- vides a bibliography of their work, and his own contributions are the most thorough in the field. Over-determination is always a potential danger in source study, however, and recently, while contributing more plot and name resemblances, Jacques Pothier has suggested that design similarities between the two oeuvres are attributable to Cowley rather than to Faulkner (123) and even doubts the Balzacian influence that Cohen sees in Faulkner’s banker Flem Snopes: “Would it not be vain to claim that Flem Snopes is inspired by Rastignac, du Tillet or Nucingen, rather than by Dickens’s Uriah Heep? ...Flem is a variation on a type common in the nineteenth and early twentieth century novel ...when such characters can be read about in the novels of Balzac, Dickens, Twain, to name but a few” (112). To trace Flem’s acquisitiveness to Rastignac would be, of course, wrong, but Rastignac’s http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

Balzacian Evolution and the Origin of the Snopeses

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 33 (1) – Dec 1, 2001

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2000 Department of English of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
ISSN
1534-1461

Abstract

Balzacian Evolution and the Origin of the Snopeses by Merrill Horton Malcolm Cowley’s short essay “William Faulkner’s Human Comedy” probably created the Honoré de Balzac-William Faulkner source study field by briefly suggesting organizational similarities between La Comédie humaine and Faulkner’s oeuvre. After Cowley, scholars incrementally but steadily added plot, name, and thematic similarities; Philip Cohen pro- vides a bibliography of their work, and his own contributions are the most thorough in the field. Over-determination is always a potential danger in source study, however, and recently, while contributing more plot and name resemblances, Jacques Pothier has suggested that design similarities between the two oeuvres are attributable to Cowley rather than to Faulkner (123) and even doubts the Balzacian influence that Cohen sees in Faulkner’s banker Flem Snopes: “Would it not be vain to claim that Flem Snopes is inspired by Rastignac, du Tillet or Nucingen, rather than by Dickens’s Uriah Heep? ...Flem is a variation on a type common in the nineteenth and early twentieth century novel ...when such characters can be read about in the novels of Balzac, Dickens, Twain, to name but a few” (112). To trace Flem’s acquisitiveness to Rastignac would be, of course, wrong, but Rastignac’s

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Dec 1, 2001

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