I can’t stand literary pretensions. I’ve been out of college for many years, and continue to feel fortunate that I no longer have to deal with those nose-in-the-air literature snobs who would parade around campus in tight little mincing groups and constantly raise their hands during advanced literature classes because they wanted to impress their plebian classmates (including myself) with their erudition. These superior students would say things like “…It’s obvious that Fitzgerald was using Gatsby as an exemplar, or doppelganger if you will, for his own self-satisfied persona’s moral disintegration and the verisimilitudes that the upper-classes have to face when dealing with their own bourgeoisie ethos.” After we all clapped and cheered in the face of such brilliance, the professor and said student(s) would engage in a lengthy discussion about the symbolic meaning of the color of Jay Gatsby’s car. The rest of us would struggle valiantly to keep from yawning every two seconds.
I got my undergraduate degree in the East, and was acquainted with many lit snobs who adored Fitzgerald and lionized Faulkner. At least once a year I’d have a class with an English prof, usually female, who would wax lyrical about Faulkner every chance she got. It didn’t matter that the course was on the Romantic Poets; the love-struck professor would find some way to insinuate Faulkner into her lectures. Having struggled through The Reivers in high school and after attempting to read The Sound and the Fury a couple of times with no success, I was loathe to admit that I thought Faulkner was a terrible writer. I was afraid that if I talked dirt about the great WF, I would be chased across campus by the aforementioned mincing lit snobs and beaten to death with their copies of As I Lay Dying. (Perhaps I’d be screaming absalom, absalom! before I slipped into unconsciousness).
I’m sure I’m not the only person who can’t stomach Faulkner. I’m even more sure that there are pseudo-intellectual scholars out there in academic la-la-land who say they love Faulkner when they really despise his stream-of-consciousness 100+ word sentences. They just want their peers to think they’re brainy. Here’s an example of a Faulkner paragraph (Absalom, Absalom! 1936):
The second sentence of this two sentence paragraph is around 159 words long, give or take. Reading something like this is just way too much work. If I want to work, I’ll mow the lawn. Reading is for pleasure. Give me John Irving or Dr. Seuss any day!