Manuscripts Etc.

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The following items are drawn from the William Faulkner Foundation Collection at the University of Virginia's Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library (http://small.library.virginia.edu/).
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The Reivers

Below: We can't be sure when or why Faulkner created the two genealogical tables on this sheet of paper, both tracing the descendants of Lucius Quintus Carothers McCaslin, the plantation patriarch who makes his first appearance in the Yoknapatawpha fictions in Go Down, Moses (1942). The Faulkner Foundation Collection catalog associates this item with that novel. But given the attention Faulkner is paying to the Priest family - who become a "cadet" branch of the McCaslins as the descendants of Old Carothers' daughter's daughter - it seems more likely that this attempt to align the various generations is part of his preparation for writing The Reivers, where the Priests suddenly emerge as another of the county's leading families, like their cousins the Edmondses, or the Compsons, and so on.

Undated Ms Genealogy

Below: These five sheets from a legal pad are something of a mystery. It's clear that Faulkner created them in an effort to establish dates for selected characters and events in the intertextual story of Yoknapatawpha. Down the five lefthand margins he wrote out every year between 1813 and 1955, and then filled in 29 of those dates with information about births, marriages, ages and deaths of 21 different characters, as well as about various event dates in 7 different stories and novels. The Faulkner Foundation collection guide associates this material too with Go Down, Moses, but it's clear that Faulkner created it about two decades later, also around the time he was writing The Reivers. At that same time - the summer of 1961 - he was working with Albert Erskine, his editor at Random House, to clean up the chronological inconsistencies in the three novels in the Snopes trilogy, which the publisher was about the bring out in one volume. Fourteen of Faulkner's 29 total entries for these dates deal with material from the trilogy: for example, "[19]46 Mink released from Parchman. kills Flem." on page 5. Eight deal with characters and events on the 'distaff' side of the McCaslin family, the branch of the McCaslin tree where Faulkner locates the Priest family in The Reivers: on page 2, for example, "[18]69 Sarah Edmonds m. L.Q.C. Priest."

Page 1, Faulkner Ms Table, 1813-1841     Page 2, Faulkner Ms Table, 1842-1869     Page 3, Faulkner Ms Table,  1870-1898     Page 4, Faulkner Ms Table, 1891-1926     Page 5, Faulkner Ms Table, 1927-1955

My own belief is that Erskine's persistent attempts to get Faulkner to address the trilogy's inconsistencies made him atypically concerned to have the story of the Priest family he was creating in The Reivers line up with the dates he'd already established for the larger McCaslin narrative. It's tempting to see these five pages as Faulkner looking back near the end of his life over the inhabitants of the world he'd created in Yoknapatawpha, drawing up this chronology as a kind of summa dramatis personae, but the focus of the entries is too narrow to support that idea. (For more on Erksine and Faulkner's work on this issue, see the "Manuscripts &c." exhibit for The Mansion.)

Faulkner seems to have worked on this chronology at least twice. Page 4 above provides the clearest evidence of this. Note Faulkner's use of two different writing tools - probably an ink pen and a blue pencil - as well as the way he first (in what I'd call pencil) assigns Flem's arrival in "F[renchman's]. B[end]." to 1899, then crosses that out in what looks like ink to me and moves "Flem comes to Varner's store" to 1904. And this page also shows how the events of Reivers - "[190]5 Lucius. Boon & Ned go to Memphis in automobile" - claim his attention right alongside the Snopes story. On the whole the dates Faulkner assigns to births and deaths and so on are consistent with what most scholarship has established, and with our own dating choices in this project, though discrepancies remain. Another temptation is to treat the data here as definitive, but while it's clear that Faulkner is seriously trying to bring a lot into one focus, even here he reveals how casual he can be about the facts; despite what he says on page 5, for example, "Sound & Fury" should be 1928, not 1927. (See below for Faulkner's list of dates, characters and events across all five pages.)

One final part of the mystery: the identity of the person whose left-sloping handwriting is evident at the top of page 3 and on the right side of page 5. The obvious suspect is Erskine, to whom Faulkner may have sent these sheets - but the handwriting doesn't look to me like his. Whoever made the addition, except for the one time on page 5 when he or she fills in Gavin Stevens' age in "[19]36," what this someone is doing, apparently, is transcribing parts of Faulkner's own entries into handwriting that is supposed to be easier to read. Everyone who has ever worked with Faulkner's autograph materials understands that impulse.

      TRANSCRIPT OF FAULKNER'S ENTRIES

Page 1
[18]23 Carothers McC. Edmonds I b.
[18]37 L.Q.C. McCaslin died

Page 2
1850 McCaslin Edmonds b.
[18]54 Sarah Edmonds b
[18]61 Boon Hogganbeck b.
[18]62 Will Varner b.
[18]67 Isaac McCaslin b
[18]69 Sarah Edmonds m. L.Q.C. Priest

Page 3
Will Varner b. 1862
McCaslin Edmonds b. 1850
Isaac McCaslin b 1867
Lucas Beauchamp 1874
Mary McCaslin 1801

[18]71 Maury Priest b.
[18]74 Lucas Beauchamp b.
[18]76 Zachary Edmonds b.
[18]79 Flem born. Ratliff born
[18]87 Fool about a horse. Ab Snopes
[18]89 Stevens born
[18]91 Eyka born
[18]94 Lucius Priest born.
[18]98 Carothers Edmonds (Roth) b.

Page 4

[18]91 Eula born
[18]99 E. 8 yrs old. Jody 18. <Flem comes to F.B. 20 years old&mt;
W.V. b 1862

[190]2 Will V. <born&mt; 40 years old
[190]4 E. 13. Flem comes to Varner's store. Flem 25 yrs old. Will 42. Jody 23 Ratliff 25 yrs old
[190]5 Lucius, Boon and Ned go to Memphis in automobile. Boon married.
[190]6 Lucius P. Hogganbeck b.
[19]07 F & E marry. Mink killed Houston. E 16
[19]08 Flem & E return from trip. Treasure hunt. F & E come to town Linda born. Mink's trial. Stevens 19. Ratliff 29
[19]10 Quentin Compson committed suicide

Page 5
1927 Eula died. Sound & Fury
1928 Linda in N.Y.
[19]29 Sanctuary
[19]36 Stevens & Ratliff to N.Y. R. 57 S
[19]37 Requiem for a Nun
[19]46 Mink released from Parchman. kills Flem.

 

    Citing this source:
Stephen Railton, "Manuscripts &c: The Reivers," Digital Yoknapatawpha, University of Virginia, http://faulkner.drupal.shanti.virginia.edu/node/12452?canvas (Dates added to project: 2016, 2020)