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William Faulkner Biography

Uploaded by Gotskillz on Jul 04, 2004

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.

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...

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Uploaded by:   Gotskillz

Date:   07/04/2004

Category:   Authors

Length:   3 pages (711 words)

Views:   9255

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