Vol. 2 No. 1 Jun 2018

Virtual Worlds: Hypothetical Focalization in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!
Author:Paul Jaussen    Time:2019-07-10    Click:

The narrative device of hypothetical focalization is a central yet underappreciated stylistic feature of William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! First coined by David Herman in 1994, “hypothetical focalization” refers to the use of virtual, non-existent, or possible subject-positions from which to generate a narrative perspective. In the case of Absalom, various forms of this device are deployed by all four of the main narrator-characters to speculate about virtual worlds within the social and historical. Faulkner’s extensive use of hypothetical focalization provides a new framework for considering the novel’s treatment of racial identity and passing. By mobilizing the link between narrative style and ideological concerns, Absalom, Absalom! illustrates fiction’s capacity for both critique and utopian speculation.

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