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Et Ego in Atlantis: A Possible Source for Quentin Compson’s Suicide

Et Ego in Atlantis: A Possible Source for Quentin Compson’s Suicide Et Ego in Atlantis: A Possible Source for Quentin Compson’s Suicide by Hal McDonald William Faulkner’s famously troubled Harvard freshman Quentin Compson has fascinated readers for decades, due in large part to the simultane- ous universality and singularity of his character. Most readers can identify to some extent with his late- adolescent angst, yet at the same time cringe at the suicidal extremes to which he carries it. As his friend Spoade remarks, Quentin may elicit “not only admiration, but horror” (167). Seeking out a source for the precise mani- festation of this anguish, however, is a more complex and interesting proposition. One might, of course, look for some autobiographical origin (Spilka 452), with cer - tain aspects of Quentin’s character ree fl cting Faulkner’s own personal interests and experiences, but aside from some similarities in geography and temperament, the actual details of Faulkner’s life offer little basis for the extremes to which Quen - tin’s misplaced idealism carry him. More fruitful as a possible source for sources is the literary work of other writers, where pathologically hopeless young and mostly male idealists abound. Previously suggested literary models for Faulkner’s tortured character include Hamlet’s Ophelia (Campbell 53), a character http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

Et Ego in Atlantis: A Possible Source for Quentin Compson’s Suicide

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 46 (1) – Feb 13, 2014

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 the Southern Literary Journal and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of English.
ISSN
1534-1461

Abstract

Et Ego in Atlantis: A Possible Source for Quentin Compson’s Suicide by Hal McDonald William Faulkner’s famously troubled Harvard freshman Quentin Compson has fascinated readers for decades, due in large part to the simultane- ous universality and singularity of his character. Most readers can identify to some extent with his late- adolescent angst, yet at the same time cringe at the suicidal extremes to which he carries it. As his friend Spoade remarks, Quentin may elicit “not only admiration, but horror” (167). Seeking out a source for the precise mani- festation of this anguish, however, is a more complex and interesting proposition. One might, of course, look for some autobiographical origin (Spilka 452), with cer - tain aspects of Quentin’s character ree fl cting Faulkner’s own personal interests and experiences, but aside from some similarities in geography and temperament, the actual details of Faulkner’s life offer little basis for the extremes to which Quen - tin’s misplaced idealism carry him. More fruitful as a possible source for sources is the literary work of other writers, where pathologically hopeless young and mostly male idealists abound. Previously suggested literary models for Faulkner’s tortured character include Hamlet’s Ophelia (Campbell 53), a character

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Feb 13, 2014

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