William Faulkner

"Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders. Knows remembers believes a corridor in a big long garbled cold echoing building of dark red brick sootbleakened by more chimneys than its own, set in a grassless cinderstrewnpacked compound surrounded by smoking factory purlieus and enclosed by a ten foot steel-and-wire fence like a penitentary or a zoo, where in random erratic surges, with sparrowlike childtrebling, orphans in identical and uniform blue denium in and out of remembering but in knowing constant as the bleak walls, the bleak windows where in rain soot from the yearly adjacenting chimneys streaked like black tears."

- Light In August, 1932

Perhaps more than any other, the twentieth century was filled with writers of great literature. The greatest of these, in my opinion, was William Faulkner, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1949.

Faulkner was creatively obsessed with problems of personal identity, social change, religion, sexuality, race, and that elaborate circuitry of passion and power - the family. These themes were often interwoven with an existential sense of time and nature that are so essential to an honest expression of what it means to be a Southerner.

His writing was often lyrical and foreboding, succinct and rambling, filled with contrasts and contradictions, always working on multiple levels to create a deeply metaphorical and insightful reading experience. For Faulkner, the paradoxical issues lying in the essence of Southern culture were not abstract ideas to be explored. Rather, they were concrete physical and emotional realities simply stated, without as much judgement as many literary critics contend.

Faulkner was not so interested in criticizing the South as he was in expressing it's reality from the perspective of those who experienced that reality. As such he was much more the rational poet than the social analyst. He did not pose problems or solutions. He merely captured, in brilliant prose, the triumphs and tragedies of Southern experience on a deeply human level.

Copyright W. Keith Beason, 1999
Version 1.0


William Faulkner on the Web: An excellent cyber resource on everything Faulkner.

Faulkner and Racism: Literary Criticism by Arthur F. Kinney.

The William Faulkner Society Home Page: Dedicated to fostering the study of Faulkner from all perspectives and to promoting research, scholarship, and criticism dealing with his writings and their place in literature.

William Faulkner: The Myth of the South

William Faulkner Campfire Chat: A message board devoted to the author and his work.

William Faulkner Winner of the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature: A Page from the Nobel Prize Archives Web Site.

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