Faulkner’s Gambit: Chess and Literature by M. Wainwright

By M. Wainwright

This publication bargains the 1st full-length examine of the chess constructions, motifs, and imagery in William Faulkner's Knight's Gambit . Wainwright appears to be like on the significance of chess as a literary equipment and examines the structural analogy drawn among the sport and linguistics by way of Ferdinand de Saussure.

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Nabokov,” states Richard Rorty, “insists over and over again that . . the effect produced by style as opposed to that produced by participative emotion . . is all that matters” (147). Authors who attempt to reconcile the higher realms of aestheticism with the lower ranks of social commentary, asserts Nabokov in his posthumously published Lectures on Literature (1980), produce “topical trash” (65). Faulkner and André Malraux fall into this trap. ” Both Faulkner and Malraux may command respect in France, he admits, but they are “popular mediocre writers” (214).

He must unravel a mystery in which an “old man’s own fury had checkmated him” (11) and had led to two murders: those of the old man himself, Anselm Holland, and Judge Dukinfield. Not witness to either murder, Stevens’s game of deduction is blind. His courtroom peroration simultaneously plays with the Grand Jury, the Foreman, brothers Anselm (Junior) and Virginius Holland, and their cousin Granby Dodge. His address recapitulates what actually happened to Anselm Holland and Judge Dukinfield. He anticipates his successful exposure of Dodge with the smoke he leaves in Judge Dukinfield’s “curiously chased brass box” (24).

Pierrot, who is “dressed in white and black” (3), repeats this visual counterbalance, and Marietta, who is “dressed all in white” (9), reinforces one aspect of this monochromic antinomy. At this stage in his career, Faulkner drew heavily on other authors, with The Marionettes expressing his debt in the manner of a chess player learning from the games of past masters. “Marietta,” as Polk documents, “has direct literary connections with the life-denying, lifedestroying fatal woman of late nineteenth-century literature” (xxvii).

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