Chapter 7: Early Twentieth Century
and Modernism

William Faulkner
1897-1962

© Paul P. Reuben
June 23, 2014
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Outside Links: | Film Adaptions of Faulkner's Fiction | Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech |

Page Links: | Primary Works | Selected Bibliography 2000-2010 | Selected Bibliography 2011-Present | Study Questions | MLA Style Citation of this Web Page |

Site Links: | Chap. 7: Index | Alphabetical List | Table Of Contents | Home Page |


Source:
William Faulkner on the Web

"The past is never dead; it's not even past."
- Gavin Stevens to Temple Drake Stevens, Requiem for a Nun, Act I Scene iii

"[I] discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it, and that by sublimating the actual into the apocryphal I would have complete liberty to use whatever talent I might have to its absolute top. It opened up a gold mine of other people, so I created a cosmos of my own." - WF

Winner of the 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature, Faulkner's recognition as a writer came years after he had written his best work. Today he is regarded as an important interpreter of the universal theme of "the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself." He grew up in Oxford, Mississippi, which became the prototype of Jefferson, in the mythical county of Yoknapatawpha, the setting of many of his works. Sometimes difficult to read, Faulkner experimented in the use of stream-of-consciousness technique and in the dislocation of narrative time. His fiction discusses issues of sex, class, race relations, and relations with nature.

Primary Works

The Marble Faun, 1924; Soldier's Pay, 1926; Mosquitoes, 1927; Sartoris, 1929; The Sound and the Fury, 1929; As I Lay Dying, 1930; Sanctuary, 1931; These 13, 1931; Light in August, 1932; Doctor Martino and Other Stories, 1934; Pylon, 1935; Absalom, Absalom!, 1936; The Unvanquished, 1938; The Wild Palms, 1939; The Hamlet, 1940; Go Down, Moses, 1942; Intruder in the Dust, 1948; Knight's Gambit, 1949; Collected Stories of William Faulkner, 1950; Requiem for a Nun, 1951; A Fable, 1954; Big Woods, 1955; The Town, 1957; The Mansion, 1959; The Reivers, 1962.

William Faulkner: New Orleans Sketches. Collins, Carvel (ed. and preface). Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2002.

| Top |Selected Bibliography 2000 to 2010

Abernathy, Jeff. To Hell and Back: Race and Betrayal in the Southern Novel. Athens: U of Georgia P, 2003.

Aiken, Charles S. William Faulkner and the Southern Landscape. Athens: U of Georgia P, 2009.

Atkinson, Ted. Faulkner and the Great Depression: Aesthetics, Ideology, and Cultural Politics. Athens: U of Georgia P, 2006.

Baker, Charles. William Faulkner's Postcolonial South. NY: Peter Lang, 2000.

Bassett, John E. William Faulkner: An Annotated Bibliography of Criticism since 1988. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2009.

Bauer, Margaret D. William Faulkner's Legacy: "What Shadow, What Stain, What Mark." Gainesville: UP of Florida, 2005.

Brivic, Sheldon. Tears of Rage: The Racial Interface of Modern American Fiction: Faulkner, Wright, Pynchon, Morrison. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2008.

Davis, Thadious M. Games of Property: Law, Race, Gender and Faulkner's Go Down, Moses. Durham: Duke UP, 2003.

Doyle, Don H. Faulkner's County: The Historical Roots of Yoknapatawpha. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2001.

Duvall, John N. Race and White Identity in Southern Fiction: From Faulkner to Morrison. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Evans, David H. William Faulkner, William James, and the American Pragmatic Tradition. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2008.

Fant, Joseph L., III. and others. eds. Faulkner at West Point. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2002.

Godden, Richard. William Faulkner: An Economy of Complex Words. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2007.

Koloze, Jeff, and Anne B. Gardiner. An Ethical Analysis of the Portrayal of Abortion in American Fiction: Dreiser, Hemingway, Faulkner, Dos Passos, Brautigan, and Irving. Lewiston: Mellen, 2005.

Labatt, Blair. Faulkner the Storyteller. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 2005.

Lurie, Peter. Vision's Immanence: Faulkner, Film, and the Popular Imagination. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2004.

Minter, David. Faulkner's Questioning Narratives: Fictions of His Major Phase, 1929-42. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 2001.

Parini, Jay. One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner. NY: HarperCollins, 2004.

Polk, Noel. Faulkner and Welty and the Southern Literary Tradition. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2008.

Rio-Jelliffe, R. Obscurity's Myriad Components: The Theory and Practice of William Faulkner. Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 2001.

Rovit, Earl, and Arthur Waldhorn. eds. Hemingway and Faulkner in Their Time. NY: Continuum, 2005.

Rueckert, William H. Faulkner from Within: Destructive and Generative Being in the Novels of William Faulkner. West Lafayette: Parlor, 2004.

Sensibar, Judith L. Faulkner and Love: The Women Who Shaped His Art. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 2009.

Skaggs, Merrill M. Axes: Willa Cather and William Faulkner. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2007.

Stewart, George C. Yoknapatawpha, Images and Voices: A Photographic Study of Faulkner's County. Columbia: U of South Carolina P, 2009.

Stringer, Dorothy. 'Not Even Past': Race, Historical Trauma, and Subjectivity in Faulkner, Larsen, and Van Vechten. NY: Fordham UP, 2010.

Towner, Theresa M. Faulkner on the Color Line: The Later Novels. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2000.  

Volpe, Edmond L. A Reader's Guide to William Faulkner: The Novels. Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 2003.

- - -. A Reader's Guide to William Faulkner: The Short Stories. Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 2004.

Waid, Candace. The Signifying Eye: Seeing Faulkner's Art. Athens: U of Georgia P, 2013.

Wainwright, Michael. Darwin and Faulkner's Novels: Evolution and Southern Fiction. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Watson, James G. William Faulkner: Self-Presentation and Performance. Austin: U of Texas P, 2000.

Weinstein, Arnold. Recovering Your Story: Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Faulkner, Morrison. NY: Random House, 2006.

Welty, Eudora, Hunter Cole, and Noel Polk. On William Faulkner. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2003.   

Wolff, Sally. Ledgers of History: William Faulkner, and Almost Forgotten Friendship, and an Antebellum Plantation Diary: Memories of Dr. Edgar Wiggin Francisco III. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2010.

Zender, Karl F. Faulkner and the Politics of Reading. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2002.

Selected Bibliography 2011-Present

Fowler, Doreen. Drawing the Line: The Father Reimagined in Faulkner, Wright, O'Connor, and Morrison. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 2013.

Fulton, Lorie W. William Faulkner, Gavin Stevens, and the Cavalier Tradition. NY: Peter Lang, 2011.

Fruscione, Joseph. Faulkner and Hemingway: Biography of a Literary Rivalry. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 2012.

Hall, Alice. Disability and Modern Fiction: Faulkner, Morrison, Coetzee and the Nobel Prize for Literature. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Horan, Richard. Seeds: One Man's Serendipitious Journey to Find the Trees That Inspired Famous American Writers from Faulkner to Kerouac, Welty to Wharton. NY: Harper Perennial, 2011.

Wainwright, Michael. Faulkner's Gambit: Chess and Literature. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Wells, Dean F. Every Day by the Sun: A Memoir of the Faulkners of Mississippi. NY: Crown, 2011.

Wells, Jeremy. Romances of the White Man's Burden: Race, Empire, and the Plantation in American Literature, 1880-1936. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt UP, 2011.

Study Questions

1. How does the setting in a faraway age contribute to the mood of the story "A Courtship"? How do we know that we are dealing with an Indian narrator? Why is this an important aspect of the story and its total effect?

2. How does the location in a hunting camp function as an appropriate setting for the themes manifest in the story "Delta Autumn"? In what ways is Roth Edmonds meant to function as a representative of contemporary man? How is Uncle Ike different from his kinsman?

3. Examine As I Lay Dying from the point of view of family dynamics or social process. Is "Bundren" an identity these family members all share? What is the ontology, the way of being a Bundren? To what extent is Faulkner commenting on the American, especially the southern, family? Evaluate the perspectives with which the outsiders in the novel view the Bundrens. Which is reality? How does Faulkner demonstrate his characters constructing it?

"Barn Burning"

1. How does one establish individual independence as a teenager? Do you remember any crucial moment in your own life when you realized that you had to make a choice between what your parent(s) and/or family believed and your own values?

2. Is the destruction of another person's property ever something we can justify? Explain.

3. Does it matter that this story is rendered through Sarty's consciousness? What were Faulkner's options, and how would the story be different if he had exercised them?

4. What are the key symbols in the story, and how do they serve the thematic purposes Faulkner had in mind?

5. Do the class issues the story raises have any parallels today?

6. What is the tone of the story and how is it established?

7. Critics often associate Faulkner's portrait of the Snopeses with his perception that the "New South" following Reconstruction had lost its agrarian values. Analyze the particular "Snopesism" in "Barn Burning. "

"A Rose for Emily"

1. Discuss the ways in which Faulkner uses Miss Emily's house as an appropriate setting and as a metaphor for both her and the themes established by the narrative.

2. What are the different uses of the themes of "love," "honor," and "respectability" in the story?

3. Why does Faulkner use this particular narrator? What do you know about him? Can you list his "values," and if so, are they shared by the town? Is this narrator reliable? Does the fact he is male matter?

4. Many critics have read Miss Emily as a symbol of the post-Civil-War South. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of adopting this stance.

5. Those of you who have read Charles Dickens's Great Expectations will see a resemblance. How does Faulkner's tale echo but also differ significantly from Dickens's?

6. How does this story handle the linked themes of female oppression and empowerment? What does it say about the various kinds of male-female relationships in American society of this period?

MLA Style Citation of this Web Page

Reuben, Paul P. "Chapter 7: William Faulkner." PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. URL:http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap7/faulkner.html (provide page date or date of your login). 
 

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