Requiem for a Nun is a bad book which never should have been published. It consists of alternating sections of two completely unlike and unrelated works: a conventional playlet, with stage directions and all, which takes up the story of Sanctuary eight years after its events, and a Faulkneresque – Faulkneresque to the point of parody – historical survey of Yoknapatawpha County.
I may be wrong, but what I imagine is that Faulkner attempted a full-fledged drama dealing with the afterward of Sanctuary but gave up, and plumped up what he had, to book length, with out-takes from his Yoknapatawpha chronicles.
Sanctuary is just fine, super-duper. We would call it a noir. According to Wikipedia (September 5, 2016, 1:57PM), Faulkner disparaged it as a “potboiler.” It is not the Faulkner of the long trek between full stops, teeming with exotic vocabulary, with rambling detours where the ghosts of past books and future books and books never written emerge from the tangles and hoot and howl, but it is still recognizably Faulkner – and not only because a couple of Snopes’ appear in it.
One short sentence caught my eye and led me to think a while about Faulkner’s magic and how he did it.
(Uncle Bud is a boy of, maybe, eleven.) Uncle Bud’s head was quite round, his nose bridged with freckles like splotches of huge summer rain on a sidewalk.
That adjective, “huge” – look where it is placed. “Huge freckles” – yes, that would be okay. “Huge splotches” – much better. But “huge summer rain?” What is that? What we might think of as a huge summer rain would not leave splotches on the sidewalk; the sidewalk would be drenched. Some sparse summer rains, especially rains that come when the sun is shining, slopped out of clouds that already have passed, do fall in huge raindrops that splat onto the sidewalks in splotches like Uncle Bud’s freckles, but that is a leap the reader must make, or not, on his own.
I wonder if Faulkner first thought “huge freckles” or “huge splotches” and then consciously moved “huge” over to “summer rain,” or whether “huge summer rain” just flowed from brain to pen or typewriter? Either way: genius at work.
I found this, when I opened the book. Note the signature on the cartoon.
I guess I will look for the Lee Remick movie in my Apple Teevee Box. And maybe also the 1931 film, The Story of Temple Drake which, says Wikipedia, “according to film historian William K. Everson...was largely responsible for the Motion Picture Production Code crackdown on risque and controversial subject matter.”