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William Faulkner

"He turned into the road at that slow and ponderous gallop, the two of them, man and beast, leaning a little stiffly forward as though in some juggernautish simulation of terrific speed though the actual speed itself was absent, as if in that cold and implacable and undeviating conviction of both omnipotence and clairvoyance of which they both partook known destination and speeds were not necessary."

I like that sentence. From LIGHT IN AUGUST.

The context indicates that the "he" refers to McEachern, though the sentence as it unfolds makes us suspect that the "he" does double duty, that it might as well be a "they," for both man and horse, except that "they" would do violence to the unity involved. I don't know that McEachern ever gets a first name in the novel. H doesn't need one. He is pure Calvinist indomitability, or implacability as Faulkner calls it here, trying to give his adoptive son a proper Presbyterian rearing.

The sentence is a fine example of the dominant note through Faulkner great novels.  We encounter again and again characters whose view of the world is simple and straightforward, and who are utterly indifferent to qualifications, willfully ignorant to subtleties. Characters who are "juggernautish."

Norman Podhoretz, in a 1953 essay, suggested that this was the nature of Faulkner's own mind, that any effort "to explain, to understand any living thing, seems to him sheer blasphemy."

I disagree with Podhoretz about Faulkner's own mind, but the mind of his characters has that essence, and his finest prose comes from within their heads.


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