Feb 21, 2012

William Faulkner's Brush with Autism

Slate has an interesting article about a probable case of autism in Oxford, Mississippi in the 1920's, which was contemporaneous with William Faulkner's time there.  The man was Eugene Hoskins and  he exhibited savant-like talents with numbers and recall.  If anything the article is an intriguing early account from the historical record of autism in an African-american.  I'm a GA at a medical school library that has a large collection of development disability related materials, which we let families from all over the country, who are dealing with these issues, check out through the mail. So I'm always interested in this topic.  I am also a big fan of Faulkner.  But I do find the author's connection of Faulkner to Eugene as a possible source for Benjy Compson in The Sound and the Fury as a little tenuous, but perhaps plausible.  I don't recall Compson as having any savant-like abilities but he does exhibit some other autistic behaviors, which the author acknowledges.  Anyway, quibble or not the article is a good read.

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