William  Faulkner

     William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, in September 1897. Faulkner's greatest success came from his novels based on the fictional town of Jefferson in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. The characters in these novels ranged from the stiff traditional to the lower-class Southerner. His most reknowned novels were The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, and Absalom, Absalom!.

      Faulkner was deeply interested in the aftermaths of Southern reconstruction following the Civil War. Sometimes difficult to read, his long, uninterrupted sentences reflect the thought processes of the characters. His frequent changes in narration give multiple viewpoints of the same situation. This ability to get into the character's head ranks Faulkner among the great American novelists.

      In 1949, Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

      Absalom, Absalom! is perhaps Faulkner's best attempt to portray the demise of Southern cultural life. Faulkner tells this story from different viewpoints showing how the mind reconstructs the past in differing ways. The violence, racism, and sacrifice capture the conflict of multi-generational and multi-cultural people.

      Faulkner died in Mississippi in 1962.

From Absalom, Absalom!:

". . . [they] put him to the point of definite yes or no, with them or against them friend or enemy: and he refused, declined, offered them (with no change of gaunt ruthless face nor level voice) defiance if it was defiance they wanted, telling them that if every man in the South would do as he himself was doing, would see to the restoration of his own land, the general land and South would save itself . . ."

". . . the South would realise that it was now paying the price for having erected its economic edifice not on the rock of stern morality but on the shifting sands of opportunism and moral brigandage."
" . . . I am listening to it all over again I shall have to never listen to anything else but this again forever so apparently not only a man never outlives his father but not even his friends and acquaintances do . . ."
"Do you suppose it was because she knew what was going to happen when she told it, took any steps, that it would be over then, finished, and that hating is like drink or drugs and she had used it so long that she did not dare risk cutting off the supply, destroying the source, the very poppy's root and seed?"
Faulkner, William. Absalom, Absalom! New York: Random House. 1993.


Photo courtesy Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division,
Carl Van Vechten Collection