As I Lay Dying

Faulkner, William

William Faulkner, 1897–1962, American novelist, b. New Albany, Miss., one of the great American writers of the 20th cent. Born into an old Southern family named Falkner, he changed the spelling of his last name to Faulkner when he published his first book, a collection of poems entitled The Marble Faun, in 1924. Faulkner trained in Canada as a cadet pilot in the Royal Air Force in 1918, attended the Univ. of Mississippi in 1919–20, and lived in Paris briefly in 1925. In 1931 he bought a pre–Civil War mansion, "Rowanoak," in Oxford, Miss., where he lived, a virtual recluse, for the rest of his life. As a writer Faulkner's primary concern was to probe his own region, the deep South. Most of his novels are set in Yoknapatawpha county, an imaginary area in Mississippi with a colorful history and a richly varied population. The county is a microcosm of the South as a whole, and Faulkner's novels examine the effects of the dissolution of traditional values and authority on all levels of Southern society. One of his primary themes is the abuse of blacks by the Southern whites. Because Faulkner's novels treat the decay and anguish of the South since the Civil War, they abound in violent and sordid events. But they are grounded in a profound and compassionate humanism that celebrates the tragedy, energy, and humor of ordinary human life. The master of a rhetorical, highly symbolic style, Faulkner was also a brilliant literary technician, making frequent use of convoluted time sequences and of the stream of consciousness technique. He was awarded the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. His best-known novels are The Sound and the Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), Sanctuary (1931), Light in August (1932), Absalom, Absalom! (1936), The Unvanquished (1938), The Hamlet (1940), Intruder in the Dust (1948), Requiem for a Nun (1951), A Fable (1954; Pulitzer Prize), The Town (1957), The Mansion (1959), and The Reivers (1962; Pulitzer Prize). In addition to novels Faulkner published several volumes of short stories including These 13 (1931), Go Down, Moses (1942), Knight's Gambit (1949), and Big Woods (1955); and collections of essays and poems.

See the reminiscences of his brother, John (1963); biographies by H. H. Waggoner (1959), J. Blotner (2 vol., 1974, repr. 1984), and P. Weinstein (2009); studies by R. P. Adams (1968), L. G. Leary (1973), and J. W. Reed, Jr. (1973); F. J. Hoffman and O. W. Vickery, ed., William Faulkner: Three Decades of Criticism (1960); J. N. Duvall, ed., Faulkner and His Critics (2010).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Art of Faulkner's Novels
Peter Swiggart.
University of Texas Press, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Seven "A Modern Mock-Epic: As I Lay Dying"
Faulkner's Artistic Vision: The Bizarre and the Terrible
Ryuichi Yamaguchi.
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "'Sometimes I Ain't So Sho': As I Lay Dying"
Faulknerian Tragedy: The Example of 'As I Lay Dying.' (Special Issue: William Faulkner)
Merrill, Robert.
The Mississippi Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 3, Summer 1994
Stereotypical, but Revengeful and Defiant: Addie Bundren in Faulkner's as I Lay Dying
Chan, Amado.
Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, August 2001
Ordered by Words: Language and Narration in the Novels of William Faulkner
Judith Lockyer.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1991
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "As I Lay Dying and Light in August: Communities of Language"
Robbing the Mother: Women in Faulkner
Deborah Clarke.
University Press of Mississippi, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Erasing and Inventing Motherhood: The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying"
"My Children Were of Me Alone": Maternal Influence in Faulkner's as I Lay Dying
Hewson, Marc.
The Mississippi Quarterly, Vol. 53, No. 4, Fall 2000
The Fraternal Fury of the Falkners and the Bundrens
Lowe, John.
The Mississippi Quarterly, Vol. 54, No. 4, Fall 2001
Unstained Shirt, Stained Character: Anse Bundren Reread
Rippetoe, Rita.
The Mississippi Quarterly, Vol. 54, No. 3, Summer 2001
"This Was the Answer to It": Sexuality and Maternity in as I Lay Dying
Bergman, Jill.
The Mississippi Quarterly, Vol. 49, No. 3, Summer 1996
Unflinching Gaze: Morrison and Faulkner Re-Envisioned
Carol A. Kolmerten; Stephen M. Ross; Judith Bryant Wittenberg.
University Press of Mississippi, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Narrative Time/Spiritual Text: Beloved and As I Lay Dying" and Chap. 8 "Black Matters on the Dixie Limited: As I Lay Dying and The Bluest Eye"
Faulkner: Masks and Metaphors
Lothar Hönnighausen.
University Press of Mississippi, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Four "The Artist as 'Human Failure' Mosquitoes, Flags in the Dust, The Town, and As I Lay Dying"
Something New and Hard and Bright: Faulkner, Ideology and the Construction of Modernism
Mellard, James M.
The Mississippi Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 3, Summer 1995
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