A young buck and his girlfriend try to kill her step-dad. Only they couldn’t get him, so now each is hunting the other to the death, stuck in a thick Louisiana swamp during a hot summer night.
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Don’t you see?” he cried. “Don’t you see? This whole land, the whole South, is cursed, and all of us who derive from it, whom it ever suckled, white and black both, lie under the curse?”
William Faulkner wrote those words in a story called “The Bear.” It’s included in Go Down, Moses, a collection of short stories by Faulkner that was published on this day in 1942. Moses was extremely popular, like a lot of other things Faulkner wrote, and although it doesn’t have the enduring fame of The Sound and the Fury or As I Lay Dying, it remains an important part of Faulkner’s oeuvre.
Faulkner’s writing—like the writing of Flannery O’Connor, Cormac McCorthy or the podcast S-Town—are often grouped together in a genre referred to as Southern gothic. Author Jamie Kornegay explained the origins of the genre for HuffPost:
Aristocratic Southern society, in its post-bellum heyday, erected a… façade of gentility and custom to hide the way people really lived. Southern writers like William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, and Tennessee Williams contrasted these customs with grotesque caricatures and shocking imagery to amplify the contradictions of Southern society.
Some examples that spring to mind are Faulkner’s rotting corpse in the frilly upstairs bed from “A Rose for Emily” or Flannery O’Connor’s low-class country people, running roughshod over civilized white dignity and vice versa. In his stage dramas, Tennessee Williams put fine Southerners on their worst behavior, and I especially love the Gothic sensibilities in Elia Kazan’s film “Baby Doll,” an adaptation of Williams’s one-act play “27 Wagons Full of Cotton,” in which two feuding cotton gin owners in the Mississippi Delta use a lusty, virginal teen as a bargaining chip.
Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/why-people-love-southern-gothic-180963145/#WZgIiQFXFkWoRykU.99
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