Requiem for a Nun (Vintage International)
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This sequel to Faulkner’s most sensational, Sanctuary, was written twenty years later but takes up the story of Temple Drake eight years after the events related in Sanctuary. Temple is now married to Gowan Stevens. The book begins when the death sentence is pronounced on the nurse Nancy for the murder of Temple and Gowan’s child. Told partly in prose, partly in play form, Requiem for a Nun is a haunting exploration of the impact of the past on the present.
Square and the business district, the courthouse survived. It didn’t escape: it simply survived: harder than axes, tougher than fire, more fixed than dynamite; encircled by the tumbled and blackened ruins of lesser walls, it still stood, even the topless smoke-stained columns, gutted of course and roofless, but immune, not one hair even out of the Paris architect’s almost forgotten plumb, so that all they had to do (it took nine years to build; they needed twenty-five to restore it) was put in
drinking or eating sweets during Lent. You know: not to reform: just to quit for a while, clear your system, rest up for a new tune or set or lie? All right. It was to have someone to talk to. And now you see? I’ll have to tell the rest of it in order to tell you why I had to have a dope-fiend whore to talk to, why Temple Drake, the white woman, the all-Mississippi debutante, descendant of long lines of statesmen and soldiers high and proud in the high proud annals of our sovereign state,
Because Temple Drake liked evil. She only went to the ball game because she would have to get on a train to do it, so that she could slip off the train the first time it stopped, and get into the car to drive a hundred miles with a man— STEVENS —who couldn’t hold his drink. TEMPLE (to Stevens) All right. Aren’t I just saying that? (to Governor) An optimist. Not the young man; he was just doing the best he knew, could. It wasn’t him that suggested the trip: it was Temple— STEVENS It
rear wall is open and shows traces of the same savage and ruthless search. A table center, bears Temple’s hat, gloves and bag, also a bag such as is associated with infants; two bags, obviously Temple’s, are packed and closed and sit on the floor beside the table. The whole room indicates Temple’s imminent departure, and that something has been vainly yet savagely and completely, perhaps even frantically, searched for. When the lights go up, Pete is standing in the open closet door, holding a
strength to milk a cow, and then capped its own vanquishment and eternal subjugation by the paradox of giving him for his patronymic the designation of the vocation at which he was to fail: Farmer; this was the incumbent, the turnkey, the jailor; the old tough logs which had known Ikkemotubbe’s drunken Chickasaws and brawling teamsters and trappers and flatboatmen (and—for that one short summer night—the four highwaymen, one of whom might have been the murderer, Wiley Harpe), were now the bower