"On Not Getting the Joke: William Faulkner's Wild Horses," 3 Quarks Daily, February 17, 2014.

Humor needs tragedy, and the genius in William Faulkner's story “Spotted Horses” is the strong presence of both. “The hard and sordid things of life,” wrote Mark Twain, “are too hard and too sordid and too cruel for us to know and touch them year after year without some mitigating influence.” Twain might be saying that we need humor to withstand the cruelty in the world. Or, that we need humor to see it.

There are two ways to read “Spotted Horses,” as if it were one of those trick paintings that is both a duck and a rabbit at once. You can read the people or you can read the horses.

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