William Faulkner

William Faulkner

William Faulkner

William Faulkner

Synopsis

In this newest volume in Oxford's Lives and Legacies series, Carolyn Porter, a leading authority on William Faulkner, offers an insightful account of Faulkner's life and work, with special focus on the breathtaking twelve-year period when he wrote some of the finest novels in American literature.
Porter ranges from Faulkner's childhood in Mississippi to his abortive career as a poet, his sojourn in New Orleans (where he met a sympathetic Sherwood Anderson and wrote his first novelSoldier's Pay), his short but strategically important stay in Paris, his "rescue" by Malcolm Crowley in the late 1940s, and his winning of the Nobel Prize. But the heart of the book illuminates the formal leap in Faulkner's creative vision beginning withThe Sound and the Furyin 1929, which sold poorly but signaled the arrival of a major new literary talent. Indeed, from 1929 through 1942, he would produce, against formidable odds--physical, spiritual, and financial--some of the greatest fictional works of the twentieth century, includingAs I Lay Dying, Sanctuary, Light in August, Absalom, Absalom!andGo Down, Moses. Porter shows how, during this remarkably sustained burst of creativity, Faulkner pursued an often feverish process of increasingly ambitious narrative experimentation, coupled with an equally ambitious thematic expansion, as he moved from a close-up study of the white nuclear family, both lower and upper class, to an epic vision of southern, American, and ultimately Western culture.
Porter illuminates the importance of Faulkner's legacy not only for American literature, but also for world literature, and reveals how Faulkner lives on so powerfully, both in the works of his literary heirs and in the lives of readers today.

Excerpt

Faulkner's life was all about stories- making them up, making them over, even making them true. As a child in Oxford, Mississippi, he was a famous storyteller, often spinning tales with more verisimilitude than veracity. He was also an ardent listener, as he had learned to be from listening to family stories told by his grandfather, his aunts and uncles, his neighbors, stories that were themselves often more made-up than not. Meanwhile, people began to tell stories about Faulkner as well, especially as he grew up and became a writer. Once he acquired a reputation as a novelist, he came to enjoy provoking stories about himself and his past as well as telling them himself. Between the tales he told of himself and those told about him, his biographers have thus had rich treasures to draw upon in their effort to tell Faulkner's own story. Although they've done an admirable job of sorting truth from fiction, they have also . . .

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