Faulkner: A Biography

Faulkner: A Biography

Faulkner: A Biography

Faulkner: A Biography


William Faulkner (1897-1962) remains the pre- eminent literary chronicler of the American South and a giant of American arts and letters. Creatively obsessed with problems of race, identity, power, politics, and family dynamics, he wrote novels, stories, and lectures that continue to shape our understanding of the region's promises and problems. His experiments and inventions in form and style have influenced generations of writers.

Originally published in 1974 as a two-volume edition and extensively updated and condensed in a 1991 reissue, Joseph Blotner's Faulkner: A Biography remains the quintessential resource on the Nobel laureate's life and work. The Chicago Tribune said, "This is an overwhelming book, indispensable for anyone interested in the life and works of our greatest contemporary novelist." That invaluable 1991 edition is now back in print.

Blotner, a friend and one-time colleague of Faulkner's, brings a vivid, personalized tone to the biography, as well as a sense of masterful, comprehensive scholarship. Using letters, inter-views, reminiscences, critical work, and other primary sources, Blotner creates a detailed and nuanced portrait of Faulkner from his birth to his death. The revision of the original 1974 biogra-phy incorporates commentary on the plethora of Faulkner criticism, family memoirs, and post-humously published works that appeared in the wake of the first version. It also examines collections of letters and other materials that only came to light after the original publication.

Featuring a detailed chronology of Faulkner's life and a genealogical chart of his family, Faulkner is authoritative and essential both for literary scholars and for anyone wanting to know about the life of one of the nation's foremost authors. Blotner's masterpiece is the template for all biographical work on the acclaimed writer.

Joseph Blotner, Charlottesville, Virginia, is professor emeritus of English at University of Michigan and the author of several books, including Robert Penn Warren: A Biography, The Modern American Political Novel, and The Fiction of J. D. Salinger. His work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Yale Review, American Literature, and else-where.


This book was written to do two things: to provide a condensation of the two-volume Faulkner: a Biography so as to make its essence available to a wider audience, and to bring that account up to date by incorporating material from the enormous outpouring since then of scholarship, criticism, and other writings, including posthumously published Faulkner works.

For a fuller account of various aspects of William Faulkner's life and work, the reader is referred to the two-volume version of 1974 and to two other books: Uncollected Stories of William Faulkner, primarily for the stories but also for the notes, which treat in detail the changes in the various versions, and Selected Letters of William Faulkner, which supplies the full texts of some letters quoted in part here.

The notes to this book provide references to all material quoted from published sources and to all interviews conducted since 1974. For the names and dates of earlier interviews that were also used in the twovolume edition, scholars and other interested readers are referred to that edition, where all such data are provided in full and may be located chronologically in both the text and the notes.

This edition has afforded the opportunity to correct earlier errors, and where it differs, should be regarded as presenting the best information now available. It is not just different from its predecessor of a decade ago; it is to some extent a new book. Almost all of it has been rewritten, and though it, too, generally follows chronological order, it does so less rigorously. in the intervening years four works by Faulkner have appeared: The Marionettes, Mayday, Sanctuary: the Original Text, and Helen: A Courtship and Mississippi Poems, all in carefully edited scholarly editions. There have been a number of memoirs of varying lengths and forms. Jill Faulkner provided new insights into her father's personality and art in her part of the television documentary film William Faulkner: a Life on Paper. a journal kept by Murry Falkner, his father, came to light. His . . .

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