Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mr. Hyphen and Mr. Faulkner

From Edward N. Teall’s Meet Mr. Hyphen (And Put Him in His Place) (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1937):

In the downfunnelled light of a curbchannelled street in a neartropical metropolis, a tall, circuitriderlooking man stood amid the carnival confettisplatter overhead and confettidrift underfoot. His clothes were neartweed; his shoes flimsy, as though made of imitationleather. The package he carried contained a new hat of admirable machinesymmetry, purchased after much scribblescrawling of figures and a deal of coinfumbling, as a weddingpresent for —
All those crazycat compounds actually appear in “Pylon,” one of William Faulkner’s novels. Along with them go such others as cheeseclothlettered, mirageline, corpseglare, coffincubicles, bottomupwards, wirehum, canallock, umbrellarib.
“In the downfunnelled light”: that’s not Pylon (1935); it’s Teall’s assembling of compounds from the novel — Faulkner words, or better, Faulknerwords — in a handful of sentences. A sampling from Light in August (1932), which I’m now teaching: branchshadowed, cinderstrewnpacked, fecundmellow, hardfeeling, hardsmelling, moonblanched, pinkwomansmelling, sootbleakened. I love modernism.

Faulkner’s habit of compounding owes much to the example of Joyce’s Ulysses (1922): cabbageeared, dressinggown, hairynostrilled, scrotumtightening, snotgreen. These compound words make me think of Anglo-Saxon poetry and Homeric epithets. Κορυθαίολος Ἕκτωρ : Hector moving-the-helmet-quickly.

I wonder if Teall was aware of William Carlos Williams’s decouplings in “The Red Wheelbarrow”:
a red wheel

glazed with rain
I love modernism.

Also from Meet Mr. Hyphen
Funk & Wagnalls logo
Living on hyphens

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