Absalom, Absalom! Part 5




Nevermore. (ms) 86 [Ellen born 1818]]

[Ellen b. 1817]

87 [Bon b. 1829]]

[Bon b. 1831]

88 Velery] Valery 89 1862] 1863.

90 smallpox] yellow fever 91 1910] 1909.

92 Greys] Grays 93 1818] 1817.

94 1862] 1863.

95 Greys] Grays 96 1910] 1909.

97 1910] 1909.


99 Velery] Valery.



William Cuthbert Faulkner was born in 1897 in New Albany, Mississippi, the first of four sons of Murry and Maud Butler Falkner (he later added the 'u' to the family name himself). In 1904 the family moved to the university town of Oxford, Mississippi, where Faulkner was to spend most of his life. He was named for his great-grandfather 'The Old Colonel,' a Civil War veteran who built a railroad, wrote a bestselling romantic novel called The White Rose of Memphis, became a Mississippi state legislator, and was eventually killed in what may or may not have been a duel with a disgruntled business partner. Faulkner identified with this robust and energetic ancestor and often said that he inherited the 'ink stain' from him.

Never fond of school, Faulkner left at the end of football season his senior year of high school, and began working at his grandfather's bank. In 1918, after his plans to marry his sweetheart Estelle Oldham were squashed by their families, he tried to enlist as a pilot in the U.S. Army but was rejected because he did not meet the height and weight requirements. He went to Canada, where he pretended to be an Englishman and joined the RAF training program there. Although he did not complete his training until after the war ended and never saw combat, he returned to his hometown in uniform, boasting of war wounds. He briefly attended the University of Mississippi, where he began to publish his poetry.

After spending a short time living in New York, he again returned to Oxford, where he worked at the university post office. His first book, a collection of poetry, The Marble Faun, was published at Faulkner's own expense in 1924. The writer Sherwood Anderson, whom he met in New Orleans in 1925, encouraged him to try writing fiction, and his first novel, Soldier's Pay, was published in 1926. It was followed by Mosquitoes. His next novel, which he t.i.tled Flags in the Dust, was rejected by his publisher and twelve others to whom he submitted it. It was eventually published in drastically edited form as Sartoris (the original version was not issued until after his death). Meanwhile, he was writing The Sound and the Fury, which, after being rejected by one publisher, came out in 1929 and received many ecstatic reviews, although it sold poorly. Yet again, a new novel, Sanctuary, was initially rejected by his publisher, this time as 'too shocking.' While working on the night shift at a power plant, Faulkner wrote what he was determined would be his masterpiece, As I Lay Dying. He finished it in about seven weeks, and it was published in 1930, again to generally good reviews and mediocre sales.

In 1929 Faulkner had finally married his childhood sweetheart, Estelle, after her divorce from her first husband. They had a premature daughter, Alabama, who died ten days after birth in 1931; a second daughter, Jill, was born in 1933.

With the eventual publication of his most sensational and violent (as well as, up till then, most successful) novel, Sanctuary (1931), Faulkner was invited to write scripts for MGM and Warner Brothers, where he was responsible for much of the dialogue in the film versions of Hemingway's To Have and Have Not and Chandler's The Big Sleep, and many other films. He continued to write novels and published many stories in the popular magazines. Light in August (1932) was his first attempt to address the racial issues of the South, an effort continued in Absalom, Absalom! (1936), and Go Down, Moses (1942). By 1946, most of Faulkner's novels were out of print in the United States (although they remained well-regarded in Europe), and he was seen as a minor, regional writer. But then the influential editor and critic Malcolm Cowley, who had earlier championed Hemingway and Fitzgerald and others of their generation, put together The Portable Faulkner, and once again Faulkner's genius was recognized, this time for good. He received the 1949 n.o.bel Prize for Literature as well as many other awards and accolades, including the National Book Award and the Gold Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and France's Legion of Honor.

In addition to several collections of short fiction, his other novels include Pylon (1935), The Unvanquished (1938), The Wild Palms (1939), The Hamlet (1940), Intruder in the Dust (1948), A Fable (1954), The Town (1957), The Mansion (1959), and The Reivers (1962).

William Faulkner died of a heart attack on July 6, 1962, in Oxford, Mississippi, where he is buried.

"He is the greatest artist the South has produced.... Indeed, through his many novels and short stories, Faulkner fights out the moral problem which was repressed after the nineteenth century [yet] for all his concern with the South, Faulkner was actually seeking out the nature of man. Thus we must turn to him for that continuity of moral purpose which made for the greatness of our cla.s.sics."


"Faulkner, more than most men, was aware of human strength as well of human weakness. He knew that the understanding and the resolution of fear are a large part of the writer's reason for being."


"For range of effect, philosophical weight, originality of style, variety of characterization, humor, and tragic intensity, [Faulkner's works] are without equal in our time and country."


"No man ever put more of his heart and soul into the written word than did William Faulkner. If you want to know all you can about that heart and soul, the fiction where he put it is still right there."




One of Faulkner's finest achievements, Absalom, Absalom! is the story of Thomas Sutpen and the ruthless, single-minded pursuit of his grand design-to forge a dynasty in Jefferson, Mississippi, in 1830-which is ultimately destroyed (along with Sutpen himself) by his two sons.


As I Lay Dying is the harrowing account of the Bundren family's odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to bury Addie, their wife and mother. Told by each of the family members-including Addie herself-the novel ranges from dark comedy to deepest pathos.


Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, this allegorical novel about World War I is set in the trenches of France and deals with a mutiny in a French regiment.


The complete text, published for the first time in 1973, of Faulkner's third novel, written when he was twenty-nine, which appeared, with his reluctant consent, in a much cut version in 1929 as Sartoris.


A novel about hopeful perseverance in the face of mortality, Light in August tells the tales of guileless, dauntless Lena Grove, in search of the father of her unborn child; Reverend Gail Hightower, who is plagued by visions of Confederate hors.e.m.e.n; and Joe Christmas, an enigmatic drifter consumed by his mixed ancestry.


One of Faulkner's comic masterpieces and winner of a Pulitzer Prize, The Reivers is a picaresque tale that tells of three unlikely car thieves from rural Mississippi and their wild misadventures in the fast life of Memphis-from horse smuggling to bawdy houses.


The sequel to Faulkner's most sensational novel Sanctuary, was written twenty years later but takes up the story of Temple Drake eight years after the events related in Sanctuary. Temple is now married to Gowan Stevens. The book begins when the death sentence is p.r.o.nounced on the nurse Nancy for the murder of Temple and Gowan's child. In an attempt to save her, Temple goes to see the judge to confess her own guilt. Told partly in prose, partly in play form, Requiem for a Nun is a haunting exploration of the impact of the past on the present.


One of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, The Sound and the Fury is the tragedy of the Compson family, featuring some of the most memorable characters in American literature: beautiful, rebellious Caddy; the man-child Benjy; haunted, neurotic Quentin; Jason, the brutal cynic; and Dilsey, their black servant.


The Unvanquished is a novel of the Sartoris family, who embody the ideal of Southern honor and its transformation through war, defeat, and Reconstruction: Colonel John Sartoris, who is murdered by a business rival after the war; his son Bayard, who finds an alternative to bloodshed; and Granny Millard, the matriarch, who must put aside her code of gentility in order to survive.

Snopes Trilogy THE HAMLET.

The Hamlet, the first novel of Faulkner's Snopes trilogy, is both an ironic take on cla.s.sical tragedy and a mordant commentary on the grand pretensions of the antebellum South and the depths of its decay in the aftermath of war and reconstruction. It tells of the advent and the rise of the Snopes family in Frenchman's Bend, a small town built on the ruins of a once-stately plantation. Flem Snopes-wily, energetic, a man of shady origins-quickly comes to dominate the town and its people with his cunning and guile.


This is the second volume of Faulkner's trilogy about the Snopes family, his symbol for the grasping, destructive element in the post-bellum South. Like its predecessor The Hamlet, and its successor The Mansion, The Town is completely self-contained, but it gains resonance from being read with the other two. The story of Flem Snopes' ruthless struggle to take over the town of Jefferson, Mississippi, the book is rich in typically Faulknerian episodes of humor and of profundity.


The Mansion completes Faulkner's great trilogy of the Snopes family in the mythical county of Yoknapatawpha, Mississippi, which also includes The Hamlet and The Town. Beginning with the murder of Jack Houston and ending with the murder of Flem Snopes, it traces the downfall of the indomitable post-bellum family who managed to seize control of the town of Jefferson within a generation.


The best of William Faulkner's hunting stories are woven together brilliantly in Big Woods. First published in 1955 and now available in paperback for the first time, the volume includes Faulkner's most famous story, 'The Bear' (in its original version), together with 'The Old People,' 'A Bear Hunt,' and 'Race at Morning.' Each of the stories is introduced by a prelude, and the final one is followed by an epilogue, which serve as almost musical bridges between them. Together, these pieces create a seamless whole, a work that displays the full eloquence, emotional breadth, and moral complexity of Faulkner's vision.


'A Bear Hunt,' 'A Rose for Emily,' 'Two Soldiers,' 'Victory,' 'The Brooch,' 'Beyond'-these are among the forty-two stories that make up this magisterial collection by the writer who stands at the pinnacle of modern American fiction. Compressing an epic expanse of vision into narratives as hard and wounding as bullets, William Faulkner's stories evoke the intimate textures of place, the deep strata of history and legend, and all the fear, brutality, and tenderness of which human beings are capable. These tales are set not only in Yoknapatawpha County but in Beverly Hills and in France during World War I; they are populated by such characters as the Faulknerian archetypes Flem Snopes and Quentin Compson ('A Justice') as well as ordinary men and women who emerge in these pages so sharply and indelibly that they dwarf the protagonists of most novels.


Go Down, Moses is composed of seven interrelated stories, all of them set in Faulkner's mythic Yoknapatawpha County. From a variety of perspectives, Faulkner examines the complex, changing relationships between blacks and whites, between man and nature, weaving a cohesive novel rich in implication and insight.


Intruder in the Dust is at once engrossing murder mystery and unflinching portrait of racial injustice: it is the story of Lucas Beauchamp, a black man wrongly arrested for the murder of Vinson Gowrie, a white man. Confronted by the threat of lynching, Lucas sets out to prove his innocence, aided by a white lawyer, Gavin Stevens, and his young nephew, Chick Mallison.

KNIGHT'S GAMBIT Gavin Stevens, the wise and forbearing student of crime and the folk ways of Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, plays the major role in these six stories of violence. In each, Stevens' sharp insights and ingenious detection uncover the underlying motives.


One of the few of William Faulkner's works to be set outside his fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Pylon, first published in 1935, takes place at an air show in a thinly disguised New Orleans named New Valois. An unnamed reporter for a local newspaper tries to understand a very modern menage a trois of flyers on the brainstorming circuit. These characters, Faulkner said, "were a fantastic and bizarre phenomenon on the face of the contemporary scene.... That is, there was really no place for them in the culture, in the economy, yet they were there, at that time, and everyone knew that they wouldn't last very long, which they didn't.... That they were outside the range of G.o.d, not only of respectability, of love, but of G.o.d too." In Pylon Faulkner set out to test their rootless modernity to see if there is any place in it for the old values of the human heart that are the central concerns of his best fiction.


A powerful novel examining the nature of evil, informed by the works of T.S. Eliot and Freud, mythology, local lore, and hardboiled detective fiction, Sanctuary is the dark, at times brutal, story of the kidnapping of Mississippi debutante Temple Drake, who introduces her own form of venality into the Memphis underworld where she is being held.


In this book are three different approaches of Faulkner, each of them highly entertaining as well as representative of his work as a whole. Spotted Horses is a hilarious account of a horse auction, and pits the 'cold practicality' of women against the boyish folly of men. The law comes in to settle the dispute caused by the sale of "wild" horses, and finds itself up against a formidable opponent, Mrs. Tull. Old Man is something of an adventure story. When a flood ravages the countryside of the lower Mississippi, a convict finds himself adrift with a pregnant woman. His one aim is to return the woman to safety and himself to prison, where he can be free of women. In order to do this, he fights alligators and snakes, as well as the urge to be trapped once again by a woman. Perhaps one of the best known of Faulkner's shorter works, The Bear is the story of a boy coming to terms with the adult world. By learning how to hunt, the boy is taught the real meaning of pride and humility and courage, virtues that Faulkner feared would be almost impossible to learn with the destruction of the wilderness.


This invaluable volume, which has been republished to commemorate the one-hundredth anniversary of Faulkner's birth, contains some of the greatest short fiction by a writer who defined the course of American literature. Its forty-five stories fall into three categories: those not included in Faulkner's earlier collections; previously unpublished short fiction; and stories that were later expanded into such novels as The Unvanquished, The Hamlet, and Go Down, Moses. With its introduction and extensive notes by the biographer Joseph Blotner, Uncollected Stories of William Faulkner is an essential addition to its author's canon-as well as a book of some of the most haunting, harrowing, and atmospheric short fiction written in this century.


In this feverishly beautiful novel-originally t.i.tled If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem by Faulkner, and now published in the authoritative Library of America text-William Faulkner interweaves two narratives, each wholly absorbing in its own right, each subtly illuminating the other. In New Orleans in 1937, a man and a woman embark on a headlong flight into the wilderness of pa.s.sions, fleeing her husband and the temptations of respectability. In Mississippi ten years earlier, a convict sets forth across a flooded river, risking his one chance at freedom to rescue a pregnant woman. From these separate stories Faulkner composes a symphony of deliverance and d.a.m.nation, survival and self-sacrifice, a novel in which elemental danger juxtaposes with fatal injuries of the spirit. The Wild Palms is grandly inventive, heart-stopping in its prose, and suffused on every page with the physical presence of the country that Faulkner made his own.


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