Morrison’s essay calls for closer scholarly attention to Faulknerian geography in its historical specificity by demonstrating the effects of post-WWII urban crisis on Faulkner’s Cold War writing. To this end, the article reads Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun (1951) as not only a response to industrialization and militarization in the South, but as a sustained novelistic reflection on modes of urban renewal in both the United States and a Europe under reconstruction through the Marshall Plan. By unearthing the bivalent history of US urbanism’s sounds and spaces, Requiem for a Nun interrogates US mass culture at a crucial moment in its foreign expansion, during a period when many Europeans feared an Americanization of their cities and cultures concomitant with US-funded postwar rebuilding. The text’s fictive geographies represent a Faulknerian spatial imagination unthinkable in isolation from the urban panics—both domestic and international—of the early Cold War, allowing us to rethink Faulkner’s strategies for imagining political community in this time. Through images of ruined and renewed urban forms, as well as the sounds that accompany material urban change, Requiem registers the tolls of both a mass-market consumerism that the United States sought to promote abroad and a schema of spatial and social reconstruction rooted in conditionality rather than forgiveness. In this way, the article calls attention to the geographical complexity of Faulkner’s engagement with a post-WWII US market empire.
Spencer Morrison; Requiem’s Ruins: Unmaking and Making in Cold War Faulkner. American Literature 1 June 2013; 85 (2): 303–331. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-2079170
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