William Faulkner

William Faulkner

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William Cuthbert Faulkner (born Falkner, September 25, 1897 – July 6, 1962) was an American writer from Oxford
Oxford, Mississippi
Oxford is a city in, and the county seat of, Lafayette County, Mississippi, United States. Founded in 1835, it was named after the British university city of Oxford in hopes of having the state university located there, which it did successfully attract....

, Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

. Faulkner worked in a variety of media; he wrote novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

s, short stories
Short story
A short story is a work of fiction that is usually written in prose, often in narrative format. This format tends to be more pointed than longer works of fiction, such as novellas and novels. Short story definitions based on length differ somewhat, even among professional writers, in part because...

, a play, poetry
Poetry
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

, essays and screenplay
Screenplay
A screenplay or script is a written work that is made especially for a film or television program. Screenplays can be original works or adaptations from existing pieces of writing. In them, the movement, actions, expression, and dialogues of the characters are also narrated...

s during his career. He is primarily known and acclaimed for his novels and short stories, many of which are set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County
Yoknapatawpha County
Yoknapatawpha County is a fictional county created by the American author William Faulkner, based upon and inspired by Lafayette County, Mississippi and its county seat of Oxford, Mississippi...

, a setting Faulkner created based on Lafayette County
Lafayette County, Mississippi
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 38,744 people, 14,373 households, and 8,321 families residing in the county. The population density was 61 people per square mile . There were 16,587 housing units at an average density of 26 per square mile...

, where he spent most of his childhood.

Faulkner is considered one of the most important writers of the Southern literature
Southern literature
Southern literature is defined as American literature about the Southern United States or by writers from this region...

 of the United States, along with Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

, Robert Penn Warren
Robert Penn Warren
Robert Penn Warren was an American poet, novelist, and literary critic and was one of the founders of New Criticism. He was also a charter member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He founded the influential literary journal The Southern Review with Cleanth Brooks in 1935...

, Flannery O'Connor
Flannery O'Connor
Mary Flannery O'Connor was an American novelist, short-story writer and essayist. An important voice in American literature, O'Connor wrote two novels and 32 short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries...

, Truman Capote
Truman Capote
Truman Streckfus Persons , known as Truman Capote , was an American author, many of whose short stories, novels, plays, and nonfiction are recognized literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's and the true crime novel In Cold Blood , which he labeled a "nonfiction novel." At...

, Eudora Welty
Eudora Welty
Eudora Alice Welty was an American author of short stories and novels about the American South. Her novel The Optimist's Daughter won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973. Welty was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among numerous awards. She was the first living author to have her works published...

, Thomas Wolfe
Thomas Wolfe
Thomas Clayton Wolfe was a major American novelist of the early 20th century.Wolfe wrote four lengthy novels, plus many short stories, dramatic works and novellas. He is known for mixing highly original, poetic, rhapsodic, and impressionistic prose with autobiographical writing...

, Harper Lee
Harper Lee
Nelle Harper Lee is an American author known for her 1960 Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which deals with the issues of racism that were observed by the author as a child in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama...

 and Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams
Thomas Lanier "Tennessee" Williams III was an American writer who worked principally as a playwright in the American theater. He also wrote short stories, novels, poetry, essays, screenplays and a volume of memoirs...

. Though his work was published as early as 1919, and largely during the 1920s and 1930s, Faulkner was relatively unknown until receiving the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

. Two of his works, A Fable (1954) and his last novel The Reivers
The Reivers
The Reivers, published in 1962, is the last novel by the American author William Faulkner. The bestselling novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1963. Faulkner previously won this award for his book A Fable, making him one of only three authors to be awarded it more than once...

(1962), both won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction has been awarded for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life. It originated as the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel, which was awarded between 1918 and 1947.-1910s:...

.

In 1998, the Modern Library
Modern Library
The Modern Library is a publishing company. Founded in 1917 by Albert Boni and Horace Liveright as an imprint of their publishing company Boni & Liveright, it was purchased in 1925 by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer...

 ranked his 1929 novel The Sound and the Fury
The Sound and the Fury
The Sound and the Fury is a novel written by the American author William Faulkner. It employs a number of narrative styles, including the technique known as stream of consciousness, pioneered by 20th century European novelists such as James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. Published in 1929, The Sound and...

sixth on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century; also on the list were 1930's As I Lay Dying and Light in August
Light in August
Light in August is a 1932 novel by the American author William Faulkner.Light in August is an exploration of racial conflict in the society of the Southern United States. Originally Faulkner planned to call the novel Dark House, which also became the working title for Absalom, Absalom!...

(1932).

Biography


William Cuthbert Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi
New Albany, Mississippi
New Albany is a city in Union County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 8,526 at the 2010 census. New Albany is the county seat of Union County. New Albany was first organized in 1840 at the site of a grist mill and saw mill on the Tallahatchie River and was developed as a river port...

, the first of four sons to Murry Cuthbert Faulkner (August 17, 1870 – August 7, 1932) and Maud Butler (November 27, 1871 – October 19, 1960). He had three younger brothers: Murry Charles "Jack" Falkner (June 26, 1899 – December 24, 1975), author John Faulkner (September 24, 1901 – March 28, 1963) and Dean Swift Faulkner (August 15, 1907 – November 10, 1935).

Faulkner was born and raised in, and heavily influenced by, his home state of Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, as well as by the history and culture of the American South altogether. Only four days prior to his fifth birthday, the Faulkner family settled in Oxford, Mississippi
Oxford, Mississippi
Oxford is a city in, and the county seat of, Lafayette County, Mississippi, United States. Founded in 1835, it was named after the British university city of Oxford in hopes of having the state university located there, which it did successfully attract....

 on September 21, 1902, where he resided on and off for the remainder of his life.

Family, particularly his mother Maud, his maternal grandmother Lelia Butler, and Caroline Barr (the black woman who raised him from infancy) crucially influenced the development of his artistic imagination: both his mother and grandmother were great readers and also painters and photographers, educating him in visual language. His life-long education by Callie Barr is central to his novels' preoccupations with the politics of sexuality and race. In adolescence, Faulkner began writing poetry almost exclusively. He did not write his first novel until 1925. His literary influences are deep and wide. He once stated that he modeled his early writing on the Romantic era in late 18th century and early 19th century England. He attended the University of Mississippi
University of Mississippi
The University of Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss, is a public, coeducational research university located in Oxford, Mississippi. Founded in 1844, the school is composed of the main campus in Oxford, four branch campuses located in Booneville, Grenada, Tupelo, and Southaven as well as the...

 (Ole Miss) in Oxford, and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon
Sigma Alpha Epsilon
Sigma Alpha Epsilon is a North American Greek-letter social college fraternity founded at the University of Alabama on March 9, 1856. Of all existing national social fraternities today, Sigma Alpha Epsilon is the only one founded in the Antebellum South...

 social fraternity. He enrolled at Ole Miss in 1919, and attended three semesters before dropping out in November 1920.

The younger Faulkner was greatly influenced by the history of his family and the region in which he lived. Mississippi marked his sense of humor, his sense of the tragic position of Black and White Americans, his characterization of Southern characters, and his timeless themes, including fiercely intelligent people dwelling behind the façades of good old boys
Good Old Boys
Good Old Boys is the fifth album by Randy Newman, released in September 1974 on Reprise Records, catalogue number 2193. It peaked at #36 on the Billboard 200, Newman's first album to obtain major commercial success...

 and simpletons. Unable to join the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 due to his height (he was 5' 5½"), Faulkner enlisted in the British Royal Flying Corps, later training at RFC bases in Canada and Britain, yet never experienced wartime action during the First World War.

In 1918, upon enlisting in the RFC, Faulkner himself made the change to his surname from the original "Falkner." However, according to one story, a careless typesetter simply made an error. When the misprint appeared on the title page of his first book, Faulkner was asked whether he wanted a change. He supposedly replied, "Either way suits me." Although Faulkner is heavily identified with Mississippi, he was residing in New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population...

 in 1925 when he wrote his first novel, Soldiers' Pay
Soldiers' Pay (novel)
thumb|First edition coverSoldiers' Pay is the first novel written by the American author William Faulkner. It was originally published in 1926.-Plot overview:...

, after being directly influenced by Sherwood Anderson
Sherwood Anderson
Sherwood Anderson was an American novelist and short story writer. His most enduring work is the short story sequence Winesburg, Ohio. Writers he has influenced include Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, J. D. Salinger, and Amos Oz.-Early life:Anderson was born in Clyde, Ohio,...

 to attempt fiction writing. The miniature house at 624 Pirate's Alley, just around the corner from St. Louis Cathedral
St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans
Saint Louis Cathedral , also known as the Basilica of St. Louis, King of France, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans; it has the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating cathedral in the United States...

 in New Orleans is now the premises of Faulkner House Books, where it also serves as the headquarters of the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society.

Faulkner served as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...

 at Charlottesville
Charlottesville, Virginia
Charlottesville is an independent city geographically surrounded by but separate from Albemarle County in the Commonwealth of Virginia, United States, and named after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the queen consort of King George III of the United Kingdom.The official population estimate for...

 from February to June 1957 and again in 1958. He suffered serious injuries in a horse-riding accident in 1959, and died from a myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

, aged 64, on July 6, 1962, at Wright's Sanitorium in Byhalia, Mississippi
Byhalia, Mississippi
Byhalia is a town in Marshall County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 706 as of the 2000 census.-Geography:According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of , all of it land.-History:...

. He is buried along with his family in St. Peter's Cemetery in Oxford, along with a family friend with the mysterious initials E.T.

In California




In the early 1940s, Howard Hawks
Howard Hawks
Howard Winchester Hawks was an American film director, producer and screenwriter of the classic Hollywood era...

 invited Faulkner to come to Hollywood to become a screenwriter for the films Hawks was directing. Faulkner happily accepted because he badly needed the money, and Hollywood paid well. Thus Faulkner contributed to the scripts for the films Hawks made from Raymond Chandler
Raymond Chandler
Raymond Thornton Chandler was an American novelist and screenwriter.In 1932, at age forty-five, Raymond Chandler decided to become a detective fiction writer after losing his job as an oil company executive during the Depression. His first short story, "Blackmailers Don't Shoot", was published in...

's The Big Sleep
The Big Sleep (1946 film)
The Big Sleep is a 1946 film noir directed by Howard Hawks, the first film version of Raymond Chandler's 1939 novel of the same name. The movie stars Humphrey Bogart as detective Philip Marlowe and Lauren Bacall as the female lead in a film about the "process of a criminal investigation, not its...

and Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...

's To Have and Have Not
To Have and Have Not (film)
To Have and Have Not is a 1944 romance-war-adventure film. The movie was directed by Howard Hawks and stars Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, and Lauren Bacall in her first film...

. Faulkner became good friends with Hawks, the screenwriter A. I. Bezzerides
A. I. Bezzerides
A.I. " Buzz" Bezzerides, , was an American novelist and screenwriter, best known for writing Noir and Action motion pictures, especially several of Warners' "social conscience" films of the 1940s....

, and the actors Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey DeForest Bogart was an American actor. He is widely regarded as a cultural icon.The American Film Institute ranked Bogart as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema....

 and Lauren Bacall
Lauren Bacall
Lauren Bacall is an American film and stage actress and model, known for her distinctive husky voice and sultry looks.She first emerged as leading lady in the Humphrey Bogart film To Have And Have Not and continued on in the film noir genre, with appearances in The Big Sleep and Dark Passage ,...

.

An apocryphal story regarding Faulkner during his Hollywood years found him with a case of writer's block at the studio. He told Hawks he was having a hard time concentrating and would like to write at home. Hawks was agreeable, and Faulkner left. Several days passed, with no word from the writer. Hawks telephoned Faulkner's hotel and found that Faulkner had checked out several days earlier. It seems Faulkner had spoken quite literally, and had returned home to Mississippi to finish the screenplay.

Personal life


As a teenager in Oxford, Faulkner dated Estelle Oldham, the popular daughter of Major Lemuel and Lida Oldham, and believed he would some day marry her. However, Estelle dated other boys during their romance, and one of them, Cornell Franklin, ended up proposing marriage to her before Faulkner did, in 1918. Estelle's parents insisted she marry Cornell, as he was an Ole Miss law graduate, had recently been commissioned as a major in the Hawaiian Territorial Forces, and came from a respectable family with which they were old friends. Fortunately for Faulkner, Estelle's marriage to Franklin fell apart ten years later, and she was divorced in April 1929. Faulkner married Estelle in June 1929 at College Hill Presbyterian Church
College Hill Presbyterian Church
College Hill Presbyterian Church, located just outside Oxford, Mississippi, is an historic church and a member of the Presbyterian Church in America . It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places....

 just outside of Oxford, Mississippi
Oxford, Mississippi
Oxford is a city in, and the county seat of, Lafayette County, Mississippi, United States. Founded in 1835, it was named after the British university city of Oxford in hopes of having the state university located there, which it did successfully attract....

. They honeymoon
Honeymoon
-History:One early reference to a honeymoon is in Deuteronomy 24:5 “When a man is newly wed, he need not go out on a military expedition, nor shall any public duty be imposed on him...

ed on the Mississippi Gulf Coast at Pascagoula
Pascagoula, Mississippi
Pascagoula is a city in Jackson County, Mississippi, United States. It is the principal city of the Pascagoula, Mississippi Metropolitan Statistical Area, as a part of the Gulfport–Biloxi–Pascagoula, Mississippi Combined Statistical Area. The population was 26,200 at the 2000 census...

, then returned to Oxford, first living with relatives while they searched for a home of their own to purchase. In 1930 Faulkner purchased the antebellum
Antebellum architecture
Antebellum architecture is a term used to describe the characteristic neoclassical architectural style of the Southern United States, especially the Old South, from after the birth of the United States in the American Revolution, to the start of the American Civil War...

 home Rowan Oak
Rowan Oak
Rowan Oak, also known as William Faulkner House, is William Faulkner's former home in Oxford, Mississippi. It is a primitive Greek Revival house built in the 1840s by Robert Sheegog. Faulkner purchased the house when it was in disrepair in the 1930s and did many of the renovations himself. Other...

, known at that time as "The Bailey Place." He and his daughter, Jill, lived there until after her mother's death. The property was sold to the University of Mississippi
University of Mississippi
The University of Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss, is a public, coeducational research university located in Oxford, Mississippi. Founded in 1844, the school is composed of the main campus in Oxford, four branch campuses located in Booneville, Grenada, Tupelo, and Southaven as well as the...

 in 1972. The house and furnishings are maintained much as they were in Faulkner's day. Faulkner's scribblings are still preserved on the wall there, including the day-by-day outline covering an entire week that he wrote out on the walls of his small study to help him keep track of the plot twists in the novel A Fable.

The quality and quantity of Faulkner's literary output were achieved despite a lifelong drinking problem
Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a broad term for problems with alcohol, and is generally used to mean compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages, usually to the detriment of the drinker's health, personal relationships, and social standing...

. Since he rarely drank while writing, instead preferring to binge after a project's completion, it is generally agreed that his alcohol use was an escape from the pressures of everyday life and unrelated to his creativity. Whatever the source of his addiction, it undoubtedly weakened his health.

Faulkner is known to have had several extramarital affairs. One was with Howard Hawks
Howard Hawks
Howard Winchester Hawks was an American film director, producer and screenwriter of the classic Hollywood era...

's secretary and script girl
Script supervisor
A script supervisor is a member of a film crew responsible for maintaining the motion picture's internal continuity and for recording the production unit's daily progress in shooting the film's screenplay...

, Meta Carpenter. Another, from 1949–53, was with a young writer, Joan Williams, who made her relationship with Faulkner the subject of her 1971 novel, The Wintering.

When Faulkner visited Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

 in December 1950 to receive the Nobel Prize, he met Else Jonsson (1912–1996) and they had an affair that lasted until the end of 1953. Else was the widow of journalist Thorsten Jonsson (1910–1950), reporter for Dagens Nyheter
Dagens Nyheter
is a daily newspaper in Sweden. It has the largest circulation of Swedish morning newspapers, followed by Göteborgs-Posten and Svenska Dagbladet, and is the only morning newspaper that is distributed to subscribers across the whole country. In 2009 DN had a circulation of 316,000, reaching 881...

in New York 1943–1946, who had interviewed Faulkner in 1946 and introduced his works to the Swedish readers. At the banquet in 1950 where they met, publisher Tor Bonnier referred to Else as widow of the man responsible for Faulkner being awarded the prize.

Faulkner also had a romance with Jean Stein
Jean Stein
-Biography:Jean Stein grew up in Los Angeles, the daughter of Dr. Jules Stein and his wife, Doris. She authored of two books and a pioneer of the narrative form of oral history. She is presently at work on a cultural and political history of Los Angeles, to be published by Farrar, Straus and...

, an editor, author, and daughter of movie mogul Jules Stein.

Writing



From the early 1920s to the outbreak of World War II, when Faulkner left for California, he published 13 novels and numerous short stories. This body of work formed the basis of his reputation and led to him being awarded the Nobel Prize at age 52. This prodigious output, mainly driven by an obscure writer's need for money, includes his most celebrated novels such as The Sound and the Fury
The Sound and the Fury
The Sound and the Fury is a novel written by the American author William Faulkner. It employs a number of narrative styles, including the technique known as stream of consciousness, pioneered by 20th century European novelists such as James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. Published in 1929, The Sound and...

(1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), Light in August
Light in August
Light in August is a 1932 novel by the American author William Faulkner.Light in August is an exploration of racial conflict in the society of the Southern United States. Originally Faulkner planned to call the novel Dark House, which also became the working title for Absalom, Absalom!...

(1932), and Absalom, Absalom!
Absalom, Absalom!
Absalom, Absalom! is a Southern Gothic novel by the American author William Faulkner, first published in 1936. It is a story about three families of the American South, taking place before, during, and after the Civil War, with the focus of the story on the life of Thomas Sutpen.-Plot...

(1936). Faulkner was also a prolific writer of short stories
Short story
A short story is a work of fiction that is usually written in prose, often in narrative format. This format tends to be more pointed than longer works of fiction, such as novellas and novels. Short story definitions based on length differ somewhat, even among professional writers, in part because...

.

His first short story collection, These 13
These 13
thumb|First edition coverThese 13 is a collection of short stories written by William Faulkner, and dedicated to his first daughter Alabama, who died nine days after her birth on January 11, 1931, and to his wife Estelle...

(1931), includes many of his most acclaimed (and most frequently anthologized
Anthology
An anthology is a collection of literary works chosen by the compiler. It may be a collection of poems, short stories, plays, songs, or excerpts...

) stories, including "A Rose for Emily
A Rose for Emily
"A Rose for Emily" is a short story by American author William Faulkner first published in the April 30, 1930 issue of Forum. This story takes place in Faulkner's fictional city, Jefferson, Mississippi, in the fictional county of Yoknapatawpha County...

", "Red Leaves
Red Leaves
"Red Leaves" is a short story by American author William Faulkner. First published in the Saturday Evening Post on October 25, 1930, it was one of Faulkner's first stories to appear in a national magazine. The next year the story was included in These 13, Faulkner's first collection of short stories...

", "That Evening Sun
That Evening Sun
"That Evening Sun" is a short story by the American author William Faulkner, published in 1931 on the collection These 13, which included Faulkner's most anthologized story, "A Rose for Emily". "That Evening Sun" is a dark portrait of white Southerners' indifference to the crippling fears of one of...

", and "Dry September
Dry September
"Dry September" is a short story by William Faulkner. Published in 1931, it describes a lynch mob forming on a hot September evening to avenge an alleged insult or attack upon a white woman by a black watchman, Will Mayes. Told in five parts, the story includes the perspective of the rumored...

". Faulkner set many of his short stories and novels in Yoknapatawpha County
Yoknapatawpha County
Yoknapatawpha County is a fictional county created by the American author William Faulkner, based upon and inspired by Lafayette County, Mississippi and its county seat of Oxford, Mississippi...

—based on, and nearly geographically identical to, Lafayette County, of which his hometown of Oxford, Mississippi
Oxford, Mississippi
Oxford is a city in, and the county seat of, Lafayette County, Mississippi, United States. Founded in 1835, it was named after the British university city of Oxford in hopes of having the state university located there, which it did successfully attract....

 is the county seat. Yoknapatawpha was Faulkner's "postage stamp", and the bulk of work that it represents is widely considered by critics to amount to one of the most monumental fictional creations in the history of literature. Three novels, The Hamlet
The Hamlet
The Hamlet is a novel by the American author William Faulkner, published in 1940, about the fictional Snopes family of Mississippi.-Plot introduction:...

, The Town
The Town
The Town is a novel written by Conrad Richter in 1950. It is the third installment of his Awakening Land trilogy. The Trees and The Fields were the earlier installments in the series. The Town was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1951.In September 1966, Alfred A. Knopf reissued the...

and The Mansion
The Mansion (book)
The Mansion is a novel by the American author William Faulkner, written in 1959. It is the last in a trilogy of books about the fictional Snopes family of Mississippi, following The Hamlet and The Town...

, known collectively as the Snopes Trilogy, document the town of Jefferson and its environs, as an extended family headed by Flem Snopes insinuates itself into the lives and psyches of the general populace.

Faulkner was known for his experimental style with meticulous attention to diction
Diction
Diction , in its original, primary meaning, refers to the writer's or the speaker's distinctive vocabulary choices and style of expression in a poem or story...

 and cadence
Cadence
Cadence may refer to:Music:*Cadence , a melodic configuration the end of a phrase, section, or piece of music*Cadence Magazine, a monthly review of jazz, blues and improvised music...

. In contrast to the minimalist
Minimalism
Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is set out to expose the essence, essentials or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts...

 understatement of his contemporary Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...

, Faulkner made frequent use of "stream of consciousness" in his writing, and wrote often highly emotional, subtle, cerebral, complex, and sometimes Gothic
Southern Gothic
Southern Gothic is a subgenre of Gothic fiction unique to American literature that takes place exclusively in the American South. It resembles its parent genre in that it relies on supernatural, ironic, or unusual events to guide the plot...

 or grotesque stories of a wide variety of characters including former slaves or descendants of slaves, poor white, agrarian, or working-class Southerners, and Southern aristocrats.

In an interview with The Paris Review in 1956, Faulkner remarked, "Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error. The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him." Another esteemed Southern writer, Flannery O'Connor
Flannery O'Connor
Mary Flannery O'Connor was an American novelist, short-story writer and essayist. An important voice in American literature, O'Connor wrote two novels and 32 short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries...

, stated that "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."

Faulkner wrote two volumes of poetry which were published in small printings, The Marble Faun (1924) and A Green Bough (1933), and a collection of crime-fiction short stories, Knight's Gambit (1949).

Awards


Faulkner received the 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

  for "his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel." Though he won the Nobel prize for 1949, it was not awarded until the 1950 awards banquet, when Faulkner was awarded the 1949 prize and Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic. At various points in his life he considered himself a liberal, a socialist, and a pacifist, but he also admitted that he had never been any of these things...

 the 1950 prize. Although this was a great honor, Faulkner detested the fame and glory that resulted from his recognition. His aversion was so great that he did not even tell his 17-year-old daughter. She only heard of her father’s honor when she was called to the principal’s office during the school day.

He donated a portion of his Nobel
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

 winnings "to establish a fund to support and encourage new fiction writers", eventually resulting in the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
The PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction is awarded annually by the PEN/Faulkner Foundation to the authors of the year's best works of fiction by living American citizens. The winner receives US $15,000 and each of four runners-up receives US $5000. The foundation brings the winner and runners-up to...

. He donated another portion to a local Oxford bank to establish an account to provide scholarship funds to help educate African-American education majors at nearby Rust College
Rust College
Rust College is a historically black liberal arts college located in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Located approximately 35 miles southeast of Memphis, Tennessee, it is the second-oldest private college in the state...

 in Holly Springs, Mississippi
Holly Springs, Mississippi
Holly Springs is a city in Marshall County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 7,957 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Marshall County. A short drive from Memphis, Tennessee, Holly Springs is the site of a number of well-preserved antebellum homes and other structures and...

. Faulkner won two Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

s for what are considered as his "minor" novels: his 1954 novel A Fable, which took the Pulitzer in 1955, and the 1962 novel, The Reivers
The Reivers
The Reivers, published in 1962, is the last novel by the American author William Faulkner. The bestselling novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1963. Faulkner previously won this award for his book A Fable, making him one of only three authors to be awarded it more than once...

, which was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer in 1963. He also won two National Book Awards, first for his Collected Stories in 1951 and once again for his novel A Fable in 1955. And in 1946, Faulkner was one of three finalists for the first Ellery Queen
Ellery Queen
Ellery Queen is both a fictional character and a pseudonym used by two American cousins from Brooklyn, New York: Daniel Nathan, alias Frederic Dannay and Manford Lepofsky, alias Manfred Bennington Lee , to write, edit, and anthologize detective fiction.The fictional Ellery Queen created by...

 Mystery Magazine
Award. He came in second to Rhea Galati. On August 3, 1987, the United States Postal Service
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

 issued a 22-cent postage stamp
Postage stamp
A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side...

 in his honor.

Audio recordings

  • The William Faulkner Audio Collection. Caedmon, 2003. Five hours on five discs includes Faulkner reading his 1949 Nobel Prize acceptance speech and excerpts from As I Lay Dying, The Old Man and A Fable, plus readings by Debra Winger ("A Rose for Emily", "Barn Burning"), Keith Carradine ("Spotted Horses") and Arliss Howard ("That Evening Sun", "Wash"). Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award.
  • William Faulkner Reads: The Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, Selections from As I Lay Dying, A Fable, The Old Man. Caedmon/Harper Audio, 1992. Cassette. ISBN 1-55994-572-9
  • William Faulkner Reads from His Work. Arcady Series, MGM E3617 ARC, 1957. Faulkner reads from The Sound and The Fury (side one) and Light in August (side two). Produced by Jean Stein, who also did the liner notes with Edward Cole. Cover photograph by Robert Capa (Magnum).
  • From 1957–1958, William Faulkner was the University of Virginia's Writer in Residence (the first). There are audio recordings of his time at the University of Virginia, and they have now been made available online at Faulkner at Virginia

External links