Faulkner at 100: Retrospect and Prospect

Faulkner at 100: Retrospect and Prospect

Faulkner at 100: Retrospect and Prospect

Faulkner at 100: Retrospect and Prospect

Synopsis

Essays in centennial celebration of William Faulkner and his achievement

Excerpt

First I must thank Don Kartiganer and Ann Abadie for permitting me to insert myself into the proceedings belatedly, and for this I offer explanation. a year ago, when Don had very kindly reminded me of the opportunity to submit a paper I replied, too hastily, that I was so pressed with the completion of work on Robert Penn Warren and with other concerns that I thought I had better decline. Then, about a month ago, with those concerns long since met, I began to confront something that had begun to nag at the fringes of my consciousness. More than I had realized, I wanted to be here for this special celebration. It was no consolation to read the words of another who had made the same mistake I had: “I [had] declined, saying that I really couldn't concentrate enough to collect remarks on 'Faulkner and Women'because I was deeply involved in writing a book myself and I didn't want any distractions whatsoever.” and it was no consolation to me that the person was someone as smart as Toni Morrison.

I kept thinking of a novel and a particular passage which begins with the image of a wheel and goes on, “In the lambent suspension of August into which night is about to fully come, it seems to engender and surround itself with a faint glow like a halo. the halo is full of faces.” I thought of the faces I would not see by failing to come here: your own, but also faces which many of you never had the chance to see: the faces of Mac Reed and Bob Farley, Ben Wasson and Phil Mullen, Calvin Brown and Howard Duvall—and more: Cleanth Brooks and Elizabeth Kerr, even Carvel Collins, and others too. I began to feel as if it was up to me to name those names—friends of Faulkner and townspeople and scholars—though for all I knew someone else might do it, but I did not think there would be a great many here who had been here twentythree summers ago when “Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha” began. Toni Morrison said that the conference directors (she must have meant Evans Harrington and Ann Abadie, and perhaps Doreen Fowler) had asked her to come anyway and read from her manuscript. Fortunately she accepted, and took part in a panel too. I decided to try to recoup my mistake and . . .

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