FAULKNER, William. Autograph manuscript fragment for Light in August, 21 lines, approximately 400 words, three cancelled. 8vo (4 3/8 x 5¾in.), tipped to a larger sheet, with Archibald Macleish's pencil note: "Faulkner ms given me by Dorothy Parker in 1930 (?) A Macleish." Quarter morocco slipcase.
THE NAMING OF JOE CHRISTMAS
A fascinating and pivotal passage in the novel, relating to the naming of Joe Christmas. Obviously symbolic (J.C.), Christmas can be viewed as a Christ figure, having first appeared in front of an orphanage on Christmas day. The Christian correlation runs throughout the book, including in its number of characters: 66, equaling the 66 books in the Bible. This manuscript fragment, presumably from an early draft of the book, reveals a significantly different view of the passage in the novel that appears on pages 361-65 in the first edition:
"Old Doc Hines the murderer that's what he's been and will ever be, because a man lives free in the evil he seen and what he done. 'Out of come evil a evil come,' God said to old Doc Hines. . . The Lord's run both come did 16 give old Doc Hines the chance to wait and watch while evil ground out evil. Finest evil. . ." In this passage, much is made of the orphanage, and the delivery of the young boy to it: "So they named him Christmas Knight because the Madame was away spending Xmas and the doc with lustful Jezebel and them other young sluts was drinking eggnog where the doc had sent them... But the Madame came bored from where she was spending Xmas and so changed his name because Christmas Knight was sacrilege, so they called him Chris and God said to old Doc Hines 'But that aint it. Because a little child shall lead him.' So old Doc Hines he watched and he waited. . . and he saw the devil's own seed began to pollute the evil. . . until one day old Doc Hines heard the other children call him Joe and old Doc Hines asked them why they called him Joe. 'Jo-Jo the Dogfaced Boy,' the orphans said. And old Doc Hines asked them why they called him Jo-Jo the Dogfaced Boy, It aint his face, old Doc Hines said. It aint his face because his face aint any darker than some of yours. It aint his brain because his brain aint any ... than some of yours. It aint his eyes because his eyes aint any ... than some of yours. 'But that aint it yet,' Gold told old Dic Hines. 'You watch and wait. Because a little child shall lead them.' So old Doc Hines he watched and he waited. And one day he heard them. From God's own book come loudly out, he seen and heard 'Nigger! Nigger!' The voices of little orphan children that Knew not sin because it was God's private one: 'Nigger! Nigger!' And old Doc Hines asken them why they called him nigger. But they [ends]."
In the published version, the Jo-Jo the Dogfaced Boy correlation is removed, and the order of the sequence changed and expanded on. While the actual naming is less convoluted in the published version, the entire passage is expanded. This manuscript version reveals a psychological maelstrom with more explicit Christian references, and a more direct involvement of God.
MANUSCRIPTS BY FAULKNER ARE EXCEEDINGLY SCARCE ON THE MARKET: according to American Book Prices Current the only autograph manuscripts by Faulkner to appear on the market in the last thirty years were a fragment from the story "Spotted Horses" (Sotheby's New York, 3 June 1997) and the manuscript for "The Marionettes" (Sotheby's New York, 6 December 1977). The present manuscript was presumably given by Faulkner to Dorothy Parker and from her to Archibald Macleish. Parker met Faulkner through George Oppenheimer, the co-founder of the Viking Press, and she was taken with him: "He seemed so vulnerable, so helpless," she said. "You just wanted to protect him" (See Blotner, pp. 289-90).