M. Wynn Thomas

M. Wynn Thomas a senior lecturer at the University of Wales, Swansea, is the author of Emyr Humphreys (in Welsh), Morgan Llwyd and The Lunar Light of Whitman’s Poetry.

Karl’s Darl

M. Wynn Thomas, 11 January 1990

One of the best things to come out of 18th-century Newburyport, Massachusetts was the lengthy autobiography of one of its more colourful citizens, which did not contain a single full stop. Instead, the author provided the reader with a generous assortment of punctuation marks in an appendix, along with an invitation to ‘add salt and pepper as you please.’ In a 1936 review, Clifford Fadiman recommended that the prose of William Faulkner be taken with just such a hefty pinch of salt. Fatigued by ‘the Non-Stop or Life Sentence’ which he considered to be the ruin of Absalom, Absalom!, he declared that ‘all of Mr Faulkner’s shuddering invective pales in horrendousness before the mere notion of parsing him.’ Fadiman’s judgment was not, however, to prevail – once Malcolm Cowley’s Portable selection had, with some assistance from the French, put Yoknapatawpha County on the literary map in 1946.’

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