'From Disposability to Recycling': William Faulkner and the New Politics of Re-writing in Jesmyn Ward’s 'Salvage the Bones'
Studies in the Novel
Johns Hopkins University Press
Copyright © 2015 by the Johns Hopkins University Press and the University of North Texas.
This essay argues that Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones (2011) engages in a form of rewriting (of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying ) that cannot be described in terms of existing models of parody, revision, and “writing back to the center” most often associated with feminism and/or postcolonialism and/or postmodernism. Rather, it capitalizes on the status of the canonical text—which is always already associated with longevity and durability—in order to assert the resistance of one particular African American family to neoliberal discourses that would consign them to the category of “waste” (Giroux 187). In so doing, Ward thus moves towards a new, more politicized model of rewriting that can more accurately be called “recycling,” a term with connotations of more resolute social engagement and looking outward and forward as opposed to the potentially solipsistic and retrospective textual worlds with which rewriting tends to be concerned. The recycling of Faulkner’s novel in Salvage the Bones, through its combined social and textual emphases, provides a means of revivifying revisionary fiction as a literary-political enterprise.
Studies in the Novel, 2015, Vol. 47, No. 4, pp. 550 - 567