Mosquitoes is a satiric novel by the American author William Faulkner. The book was first published in 1927 by the New York-based publishing house Boni & Liveright and is the author's second novel. Sources conflict regarding whether Faulkner wrote Mosquitoes during his time living in Paris, beginning in 1925 or in Pascagoula, Mississippi in the summer of 1926. It is, however, widely agreed upon that not only its setting, but also its content clearly reference Faulkner's personal involvement in the New Orleans creative community where he spent time before moving to France.
The city of New Orleans and a yacht on Lake Pontchartrain are the two primary settings for the novel. Beginning and ending in the city, the story follows a diverse cast of artists, aesthetes, and adolescents as they embark on a four-day excursion aboard the motorized yacht, the Nausikaa, owned by a wealthy patron of the arts.
The novel is organized into six sections: a prologue which introduces the characters, four body sections each of which documents a day of the yacht trip hour-by-hour, and an epilogue which returns the characters, changed or unchanged, to their lives off the boat.
Mosquitoes did not receive notable critical response at the time of its publishing, but following Faulkner's rise to a place of prominence in American Literature, the book has garnered a significant body of reviews, interpretations, and analyses.
With few exceptions, critics of Faulkner consider Mosquitoes to be his weakest and also most imitative work, citing his use of the literary styles of Aldous Huxley, T.S. Eliot, and James Joyce. Following this observation of Mosquitoes' imitative qualities, the book has also been considered by many to represent a period in Faulkner's life where he begins to cultivate, though not yet successfully, the personal literary style for which he later becomes famous. Critics cite his preoccupation with the themes discussed above, which he had attempted to work through prior to Mosquitoes in a few unpublished works as the primary distractions from his ability to hone his own style during this period.
One unique stance on the otherwise vastly disparaged Mosquitoes is furthered by Kenneth Hepburn in his 1971 article "Faulkner's Mosquitoes: A Poetic Turning Point". Though he makes sure to claim that he does not argue for the "reappraisal of Mosquitoes as a work of great quality," Hepburn argues that the novel has much more merit than had previously been assigned by academics. Focusing on two sections in the epilogue of the novel, Hepburn argues that instead of a confused and inconclusive statement on the role of the artist in society, the final actions of Gordon, Julius, and Fairchild each represent parts of a whole that must be read together to understand Faulkner's ultimate conclusion on what an artist should be. Hepburn furthers this argument by bringing about his final conclusion that due to this exploration and eventual comfortable conclusion on the role of the artist, Mosquitoes allowed for Faulkner's liberation from his attempt to fill the role of the "idealized poet," and let him come into his own as a great American author.
Another uniquely positive interpretation of the novel is put forth by Ted Atkinson in his 2001 article "Faulkner's Mosquitoes: A cultural history." Like Hepburn, his argument does not try to boost the novel to acclaim as a great work of literature, but rather argues for its foresight into the rising discussions of cultural politics at the time. (wikipedia.org)