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William Faulkner

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William Faulkner, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1954

William Cuthbert Faulkner (September 25, 1897July 6, 1962) was a Nobel Prize-winning novelist from Mississippi. Though his works are sometimes challenging or even difficult, he is generally regarded as one of America's most important fiction writers.

Contents

Biography

William Faulkner wrote works of psychological drama and emotional depth, typically with long serpentine prose and high, meticulously-chosen diction. Like most prolific authors, he suffered the envy and scorn of others, and was considered to be the stylistic rival to Ernest Hemingway (his long sentences and ornate verbiage contrasted to Hemingway's short, 'minimalist' style). He is perhaps also considered to be the only true American Modernist prose fiction writer of the 1930s, following in experimental tradition European writers such as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Marcel Proust, and known for using groundbreaking literary devices such as stream of consciousness, multiple narrations or points of view, and time-shifts within narrative.

Faulkner was born William Falkner (no "U") in New Albany, Mississippi, and raised in and heavily influenced by that state, as well as the general ambience of the South. His great-grandfather, William Clark Falkner, was an important figure in the history of northern Mississippi who had served as a colonel in the Confederate Army, founded a railroad, and gave his name to the town of Falkner in nearby Tipah County. Perhaps most importantly, he wrote several novels and other works, establishing a literary tradition in the family. Eventually, Colonel Falkner was the model for Colonel John Sartoris in his great-grandson's writing.

It is understandable that the younger Falkner was influenced by, and drew on, the history of his family and the region. Mississippi marked his sense of humor, his sense of the tragic position of Blacks and Whites, his keen characterization of usual Southern characters and his timeless themes, one of them being that fiercely intelligent people dwelled behind the faade of good old boys and simpletons. An early editor misspelled Falkner's name as "Faulkner", and the author decided to keep the spelling.

Faulkner's most celebrated novels include The Sound and the Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), Light in August (1932), The Unvanqushed (1938), and Absalom, Absalom! (1937), which are usually considered masterpieces. Faulkner was a prolific writer of short stories: his first short story collection, These 13 (1932), includes many of his most acclaimed (and most frequently anthologized) stories, including "A Rose for Emily," "Red Leaves," "That Evening Sun," and "Dry September." During the 1930s, in an effort to make money, Faulkner crafted Sanctuary, a sensationalist "pulp fiction"-styled novel. (first published in 1931). Its themes of evil and corruption (bearing Southern Gothic tones), resonate to this day. A sequel to the book, Requiem for a Nun, is the only play that he has published. It involves an introduction that is actually one sentence that spans for a couple pages. He received a Pulitzer Prize for A Fable, and won a National Book Award (posthumously) for his Collected Stories.

Faulkner was also an acclaimed writer of mysteries, publishing a collection of crime fiction, Knight's Gambit, that featured Gavin Stevens (who also appeared in Light in August, Go Down, Moses, The Town, and the short story Hog Pawn), an attorney, wise to the ways of folk living in Yoknapatawpha County. He set many of his short stories and novels in his fictional Yoknapatawpha County, based on--and nearly identical to in terms of geography--Lafayette County, of which his hometown of Oxford, Mississippi is the county seat; Yoknapatawpha was his very own "postage stamp" and it is considered to be one of the most monumental fictional creations in the history of literature. His former home in Oxford, Rowan Oak, is operated as a museum by the University of Mississippi.

In the later years Faulkner moved to Hollywood to be a screenwriter (producing scripts for Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep and Ernest Hemingway's To Have and Have Not, both directed by Howard Hawks). Faulkner started an affair with Hawks' secretary, Meta Carpenter.

Faulkner was rather famous for drinking as well, and throughout his life was known to be an alcoholic. The hard-drinking character of Bill Mayhew in the Coen Brothers' movie Barton Fink was almost certainly based on Faulkner.

According to rumour, Faulkner's alcoholism was particularly drastic after a major accomplishment, when he would go on prolonged binges. Normally during his bouts with drinking he would stay in bed and have various family members bring him his drinks and keep him company. An interesting anecdote describes Faulkner after his most important achievement, the winning of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949, where he drank heavily in anticipation of his departure for Stockholm. His nephew had brought him a drink and began to talk about his triumphs in a recent football game, which took place on the same day Faulkner was told he had to sail for the prize ceremony. Despite his inebriation, Faulkner put two and two together, realized that a family member had intentionally lied to him about the true date of his Nobel Prize reception in order to ensure his sobriety at the event, then resumed to drink steadily until the actual date.

Once there, he delivered one of the greatest speeches any literature recipient had ever given. In it, he remarked "I decline to accept the end of man...Man will not only endure, but prevail..." Both events were fully in character. Faulkner donated his Nobel winnings, "to establish a fund to support and encourage new fiction writers", eventually resulting in the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Faulkner served as Writer-In-Residence at the University of Virginia from 1957 until his death in 1962.

Novels

Short stories

  • "Landing in Luck" (1919)
  • "The Hill" (1922)
  • "New Orleans"
  • "Mirrors of Chartres Street" (1925)
  • "Damon and Pythias Unlimited" (1925)
  • "Jealousy" (1925)
  • "Cheest" (1925)
  • "Out of Nazareth" (1925)
  • "The Kingdom of God" (1925)
  • "The Rosary" (1925)
  • "The Cobbler" (1925)
  • "Chance" (1925)
  • "Sunset" (1925)
  • "The Kid Learns" (1925)
  • "The Liar" (1925)
  • "Home" (1925)
  • "Episode" (1925)
  • "Country Mice" (1925)
  • "Yo Ho and Two Bottles of Rum" (1925)
  • "Music - Sweeter than the Angels Sing"
  • "A Rose for Emily" (1930)
  • "Honor" (1930)
  • "Thrift" (1930)
  • "Red Leaves" (1930)
  • "Ad Astra" (1931)
  • "Dry September" (1931)
  • That Evening Sun (1931)
  • "Hair" (1931)
  • "Spotted Horses" (1931)
  • "The Hound" (1931)
  • "Fox Hunt" (1931)
  • Carcassonne (1931)
  • "Divorce in Naples" (1931)
  • "Victory" (1931)
  • "All the Dead Pilots" (1931)
  • "Crevasse" (1931)
  • "Mistral" (1931)
  • "A Justice" (1931)
  • "Dr. Martino" (1931)
  • "Idyll in the Desert" (1931)
  • "Miss Zilphia Grant" (1932)
  • "Death Drag" (1932)
  • "Centaur in Brass" (1932)
  • "Once Aboard the Lugger (I)" (1932)
  • "Lizards in Jamshyd's Courtyard" (1932)
  • "Turnabout" (1932)
  • "Smoke" (1932)
  • "Mountain Victory" (1932)
  • "There Was a Queen" (1933)
  • "Artist at Home" (1933)
  • "Beyond" (1933)
  • "Elly" (1934)
  • "Pennsylvania Station" (1934)
  • "Wash" (1934)
  • "A Bear Hunt" (1934)
  • "The Leg" (1934)
  • "Black Music" (1934)
  • "Mule in the Yard" (1934)
  • "Ambuscade" (1934)
  • "Retreat" (1934)
  • "Lo!" (1934)
  • "Raid" (1934)
  • "Skirmish at Sartoris" (1935)
  • "Golden Land" (1935)
  • "That Will Be Fine" (1935)
  • "Uncle Willy" (1935)
  • "Lion" (1935)
  • "The Brooch" (1936)
  • "Two Dollar Wife" (1936)
  • "Fool About a Horse" (1936)
  • "The Unvanquished" (1936)
  • "Vendee" (1936)
  • "Monk" (1937)
  • "Barn Burning" (1939)
  • "Hand Upon the Waters" (1939)
  • "A Point of Law" (1940)
  • "The Old People" (1940)
  • "Pantaloon in Black" (1940)
  • "Gold Is Not Always" (1940)
  • "Tomorrow" (1940)
  • "Go Down, Moses" (1941)
  • "The Tall Men" (1941)
  • "Two Soldiers" (1942)
  • "Delta Autumn" (1942)
  • "The Bear" (1942)
  • "Afternoon of a Cow" (1943)
  • "Shingles for the Lord" (1943)
  • "My Grandmother Millard and General Bedford Forrest and the Battle of Harrykin Creek" (1943)
  • "Shall Not Perish" (1943)
  • "Appendix, Compson, 1699-1945" (1946)
  • "An Error in Chemistry" (1946)
  • "A Courtship" (1948)
  • "Knight's Gambit" (1949)
  • "A Name for the City" (1950)
  • "Notes on a Horsethief" (1951)
  • "Mississippi" (1954)
  • "Sepulture South: Gaslight" (1954)
  • "Race at Morning" (1955)
  • "By the People" (1955)
  • "Hell Creek Crossing" (1962)
  • "Mr. Acarius" (1965)
  • "The Wishing Tree" (1967)
  • "Al Jackson" (1971)
  • "And Now What's To Do" (1973)
  • "Nympholepsy" (1973)
  • "The Priest" (1976)
  • "Mayday" (1977)
  • "Frankie and Johnny" (1978)
  • "Don Giovanni" (1979)
  • "Peter" (1979)
  • "A Portrait of Elmer" (1979)
  • "Adolescence" (1979)
  • "Snow" (1979)
  • "Moonlight" (1979)
  • "With Caution and Dispatch" (1979)
  • "Hog Pawn" (1979)
  • "A Dangerous Man" (1979)
  • "A Return" (1979)
  • "The Big Shot" (1979)
  • "Once Aboard the Lugger (II)" (1979)
  • "Dull Tale" (1979)
  • "Evangeline" (1979)
  • "Love" (1988)
  • "Christmas Tree" (1995)
  • "Rose of Lebanon" (1995)
  • "Lucas Beauchamp" (1999)

Poetry Collections

External links

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