Literary Precedents for Sometimes a Great Notion

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Kesey's notes to Sometimes a Great Notion illuminate his literary precedents. In them he confesses that he wanted his second published novel to be "a cross between Faulkner and Burroughs and also me," and he reminds himself to study the panoramic effects in John Steinbeck's novel, The Grapes of Wrath (1939), Stephen Vincent Benet's poem, John Brown's Body (1928) and Dylan Thomas's play, Under Milk Wood (1953). Technically, particularly in terms of time scheme and point of view, the writer to whom he seems most indebted is William Faulkner.

Kesey's beginning the novel with the last events of his plot and then going back in time to develop his characters and explain how those events happened recalls Faulkner's Light in August (1932). His use of multiple points of view was probably influenced by The Sound and the Fury (1929), Absalom, Absalom! (1936), and As I Lay Dying (1930), and Lee Stamper's characterization seems modeled upon...

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This section contains 269 words
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Copyrights
Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction and Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults
Sometimes a Great Notion from Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction and Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.