September 25, 1997 marks the centenary of the birth of William Faulkner, the South’s–and perhaps America’s–greatest writer. Almost all of Faulkner’s most memorable work explores the intricate goings on in Yoknapatawpha County, his fictional north Mississippi world. Despite his focus on what he called his “own little postage stamp of native soil,” Faulkner’s fiction always pushes toward the universal. As much as cultures vary in space and time, the human condition remains constant; Faulkner’s works, like all great literature, will never be dated.
In his essay, “Mississippi,” probably the best introduction to his life and his writing, William Faulkner ends with a striking statement expressing his volatile feelings toward the South: “Loving all of it even while he had to hate some of it because he knows that you don’t love because; you love despite; not for the virtues, but despite the faults.” Besides his deep affection for, and fascination with, the Southern folk–and I mean by that all Southerners, those of all color, class, and gender–Faulkner’s love for his homeland centered on its rich landscape and its heroic past, particularly the period of settlement when those he called the “tall men” fought back the wilderness and laid the cultural foundations for future generations. But the region’s ongoing history of racial injustice and intolerance, together with what he saw as traditional culture’s inevitable decline before the forces of modernization and greed, painfully disturbed Faulkner.
... and grew into a short story entitled "Twilight." But Faulkner loved Caddy's character so much that he developed this short story ... are E. Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Faulkner. Indeed, William Faulkner is a prominent figure in the world literature. ... and Narrative Structure. American Imago 34 (Winter 1977), 327-350. Faulkner in the University, ed. Frederick L.Gwynn and Joseph Blotner ( ...
Faulkner’s anguished feelings about the South’s decline cloak much of his best work–generally considered that written between 1929 and 1944, including most notably, As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, Absalom, Absalom!, and Go Down, Moses–in something close to tragic doom. Lurking almost everywhere, too, are his explosively conflicted love/hate feelings toward the region, expressed most clearly in Quentin Compson’s anguished thoughts about the South at the end of Absalom, Absalom!: “I dont hate it he thought, panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark: I dont. I dont! I dont hate it! I dont hate it!” But of course Quentin–along with Faulkner–does hate it, as tenaciously as they love it.
Faulkner’s life as a writer was not an easy one. It was not until he received the Nobel Prize in 1950 that his stature as a writer–and his financial health–were secure. Before then, Faulkner was generally considered by most critics as a minor regionalist and something of a crackpot. Most of his books were out of print and he was desperately poor, barely able to support himself and his family. For a while, by necessity and not happily, he worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter, earning paychecks far exceeding his meager royalty payments. Many people in Oxford, Mississippi, where he spent most of his life (he was born in New Albany, just up the road from Oxford), viewed him as a cantankerous eccentric, designating him “Count No Count” for his arrogant demeanor. His legendary drinking binges did not help matters, sorely affecting his health, his writing, and his relationships with family and townspeople.
Faulkner is now regarded as one of America’s–and the world’s–greatest writers. His writing style, dense and packed at times to the bursting point, embodies his goal to capture all aspects of experience, not to let anything escape. For Faulkner, every moment of existence is pressured almost to suffocation by all that has come before; the past is not past–it’s present. “There is no such thing as was,” Faulkner once said, “–only is.” How to capture all this merely with words? That’s what Faulkner agonized over and worked to realize.
American Writers and Their Works: Hawthorne, Poe, and Whitman Out of all the great authors and poets we have studied this semester I have chosen the three that I personally enjoyed reading the most; Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, and Walt Whitman. These three Writers stand out above the rest for each has contributed substantially to bringing forth a newly earned respect for American Writers ...
We’re all the better for his colossal efforts. He’s left us with a collection of literature that compellingly captures the intricate nuances and complexities of experience. His experiments with narrative form and structure, moreover, have profoundly impacted the shape of the twentieth-century novel and will no doubt continue to do so for future generations. Expressing Faulkner’s awesome literary impact, fellow Southern writer Flannery O’Connor once wrote: “The presence alone of Faulkner in our midst makes a great difference in what the writer can and cannot permit himself to do. Nobody wants his mule and wagon stalled on the same track the Dixie Limited is roaring down.” On the occasion of his centenary, Faulkner’s Dixie Limited continues to roar across the literary landscape.