There has been much scholarship on the use of gossip or collective narration in Light in August. However, only through the publication of Absalom, Ablasom! is the true import of the use of gossip in Light in August unlocked. While the symbolically laden army jacket unlock the importance and full implication of Hightower's father's coat as a instrument and metonym of southern history. While gossip seems at most times to be an isolating force of violence, in Absalom, Absalom! we see that it is truly akin to the creation of history.

Through a close reading of Hightower’s relic, the army jacket, the patchwork narrative is exposed and complicated in LIA. However, through the reading of AA! the coat is given additional uses -- it becomes an image not just of LIA’s narrative structure, but of southern history.

For my research I will use scholarship on Light in August's narration as well as theories around historiography and New Historicism. Faulkner centers collectivity and transformation of sentiment rather that individual conquest in LIA, but it is important to highlight the way that he does not glamorize this type of history. Because of the danger he obviously is exposing, he is issuing a warning against the swiftness of collective thought and possible lack of accountability. However, Faulkner’s texts do not, because of this, beg for a return to the canonized view of history. Through the characters Doc Hines and Grimm, he exposes the stupidity and grotesque villainy inherent in individual vigilantism -- akin to this traditional view of history. However, if Grimm is contextualized as a manifestation of the towns desire, then this view becomes more complicated. Is this then a plea for some kind of skeleton or structure which will hold incensed libidinal desire at bay until thought is able to analyze the situation? This dynamic is certainly explored through the struggle of Grimm and the sheriff. The sheriff represents a failed state: his bureaucracy is ineffective and Grimm is there as an anecdote – pure action, instrument of desire. It is shown that Grimm doesn't halt for facts. As Hightower pathetically calls out the lie that Christmas was with him all night, Grimm merely throws him aside and murders Joe. This highlights how Grimm offers no credence to facts or information gathering while the sheriff is unable to transcend the consolidation of facts into action. The Lynch mob is the closest the sheriff can get to acting.

The entire creation of Quentin's narrative in Absalom, Absalom!, which is a patchwork narrative similar to Hightower's coat, complicates the contradiction . I will use this image to analyze the creation of history. Hightower's coat is only unlocked through AA's creation of history. This image is so laden with imagery. The faded blue patches expressive of the union, it is a medic's coat, a person who, especially in war is responsible for putting people back together, similar to the narratives of Faulkner. The “man-sewn” patches offers something less glamorous, yet more practical. It is also the moment that Hightower realizes he has written off his father for the shadow of his grandfather's heroism. This is a similar dynamic to the way the historic heroism (Grimm, Union history books, Letters, etc) are replaced by the collective, more dangerous, yet practical history of collectivity and gossip. For this section I will use John S. Williams' essay, “The Final Copper Afternoon: Hightower's Redemption.” Williams' discussed Hightower's development from “increasingly ambivalent, in moral uncertainty” in regards to Lena and Byron to “active participa[nt]” (Williams, 208).

In her essay “By Word of Mouth: Narrative Dynamics of Gossip in Faulkner's “Light in August,” ” Ellen Goellner argues that gossip is the sole trajectory of plot. Combining this with a layered and circular narration she argues the ills of this type of narration as well as the promises. Goellner argues that Faulkner, “Rather than drawing attention to narrational variety as an expression of the radical distinction of characters – a series of virtuoso solo acts, not least the author's – Faulkner now presents this amalgamated talking as the agency and nature of a social world” (Goellner, 107).

There is other criticism I found which I have yet to study fully. I will have to read Patricia Meyer Spacks' Gossip. It seems that it is all about this dynamic and is cited widely by many critics. I have put a reserve on it, but have yet to receive it. John N. Duvall's essay “Murder and the Communities: Ideology in and around “Light in August,” ” offers a restructuring of the concept of community in Faulkner's world. He deals a lot with the use of pronouns which is of particular importance in Absalom, Absalom! In addition, I will use B. R. McElderry's essay, “The Narrative Structure of Light in August.”

Another aspect I will have to explore is how repetition is used in Faulkner. How does repetition serve to create this new type of history and how is it not, what Freud calls, repetition trauma – something said so much that you are bound to believe? This is seen particularly in the lies the town spreads despite knowing they are lies. I think that what Faulkner is after is something more nuanced. These repetitions of names and places serves to create a fabric of history that is being destroyed in the postwar south. Ellen Goellner talks about this repetition in her essay as well. She ultimately argues that these repetitions are the life of the story, and that the actual text Faulkner writes is the “cold, implacable printed words” (LIA). Readers, just like the characters, must create their own reality of the amalgamation of repeated facts.

Here would be a good place for a reading of the letter that Judith gives to Quentin's grandmother and her explanation of why she gives it to her. She is at the point of recognizing the futility of human existence and feels that after she dies so will her history, – this is a direct parallel to the history of the south being destroyed after its 'death' in the civil war – but she feels that if she gives this letter, which is a strange doubling of both sides of the war as well, it will have been and it will continue to have been. This is one of Faulkner's moments in which he is talking about the use and purpose of writing. What then is the dynamic between the written word (cold, dead, yet more lasting because it has been) and the spoken word (more immediate, active, representative, yet completely ephemeral)? This is the dynamic I am interested in.

This is a good start, but I am a bit concerned about focus. You really gesture towards several directions here, each of which would be hard to deal with in 4k words, so I think the challenge from here is to read some criticism and see where you want to take it. I certainly think that the role of the community as a narrator, over and against the "outlandish" figures of BB, Hightower, Lena, and Christmas/Burden, is a viable and interesting topic. And Grimm both is and isn't an expression of this spirit, in my view at least. Faulkner is careful to link him, not so much to the town's culture, but to the distinctively modern institutional setting of the National Guard and paramilitarism...