By comparison with the amount of attention devoted to Faulkner’s other works of the early thirties, Pylon has been largely neglected, and indeed the novel does seem to be an anomaly when considered within the context of the entire canon. Yet at the time that he was working on Pylon, Faulkner was producing some of his most significant works: Light in August, one of his finest novels, precedes Pylon, and Absalom, Absalom!, arguably his masterpiece, is Pylon’s immediate successor. Moreover, a number of Faulkner’s fellow-writers held the book in high esteem when it was first published, and retained a favorable impression of it into their later years. In an early review in Esquire, for example, Ernest Hemingway stated that he had been ‘reading and admiring Pylon by Mr. William Faulkner’1 and in 1956 he wrote to a correspondent that Pylon and Sanctuary were Faulkner’s ‘most readable’ works.2 John Dos Passos, too, said in 1969 that he had ‘read Pylon with great pleasure about the time it came out’.3


High Esteem Favorable Impression Early Thirty Social Protest Plane Crash 
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  1. 1.
    Ernest Hemingway, ‘On Being Shot Again: A Gulf Stream Letter’, reprinted in By-Line: Ernest Hemingway Selected Articles and Dispatches of Four Decades, ed. William White (New York: Scribners, 1967) p. 200.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters 1917–1961, ed. Carlos Baker (New York: Granada, 1981) p. 864; see also p. 863.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The Fourteenth Chronicle: Letters and Diaries of John Dos Passos, ed. Townsend Ludington (Boston: Gambit, 1973) p. 636.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    In fact, one contemporary reviewer did make this connection. See T. S. Mathews’s otherwise rather pointless parody of Pylon in The Critical Heritage, pp. 185–7. M. Thomas Inge investigates the possible influence of comic strips upon Faulkner’s early drawings. He mentions Bringing Up Father specifically, although not with reference to Pylon. See ‘Faulkner Reads the Funny Papers’, in Faulkner and Humor: Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha, 1984, eds Doreen Fowler and Ann J. Abadie (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1986) pp. 153–90.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    For commentary on this phenomenon, see Ron Goulart, The Adventurous Decade: Comic Strips in the Thirties (New Rochelle: Arlington House, 1975) pp. 101–22. For remarks on Bringing Up Father, see Colton Waugh, The Comics (New York: Macmillan, 1947) p. 47.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    John Dos Passos, Three Plays: ‘The Garbage Man’, ‘Airways, Inc.’, ‘Fortune Heights’ (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1934) p. 155.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    John Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer (New York: Harper, 1925) p. 299.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    At the University of Virginia, Faulkner described barnstormers as a ‘fantastic and bizarre phenomenon on the face of a contemporary scene’ and continued: ‘there was really no place for them in the culture, in the economy, yet they were there …. [They] wanted just enough money to live, to get to the next place to race again. Something frenetic and in a way almost immoral about it. That they were outside the range of God, not only of respectability, of love, but of God too. That they had escaped the compulsion of accepting a past and a future, that they were—they had no past. They were as ephemeral as the butterfly that’s born this morning with no stomach and will be gone tomorrow’. Faulkner in the University: Class Conferences at the University of Virginia 1957–1958, eds Frederick L. Gwynn and Joseph L. Blotner (New York: Vintage, 1965) p. 36.Google Scholar
  9. 15.
    Lion in the Garden, pp. 131–2.Google Scholar
  10. 17.
    T. S. Eliot, The Complete Poems and Plays (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1952) p. 6.Google Scholar
  11. 19.
    See The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Oxford: Clarendon, 1978) p. 79.Google Scholar
  12. 20.
    Go Down, Moses and Other Stories (New York: Random, 1942), p. 154.Google Scholar
  13. 22.
    For an analysis of the ways in which Faulkner alters or manipulates traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras festivities to reinforce the wasteland atmosphere of New Valois in Pylon, see Susie Paul Johnson, ‘Pylon: Faulkner’s Waste Land’, Mississippi Quarterly, 38 (1985) 287–94.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Gary Harrington 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary Harrington
    • 1
  1. 1.Salisbury State UniversityUSA

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