A William Faulkner Encyclopedia

A William Faulkner Encyclopedia

A William Faulkner Encyclopedia

A William Faulkner Encyclopedia

Synopsis

In a distillation of the extensive research on William Faulkner and his work, Hamblin and Peek's book is an authoritative guide to the author's life, literature, and legacy. Arranged alphabetically, the entries in this reference discuss Faulkner's works and major characters and themes, as well as the literary and cultural contexts in which his texts were conceived, written, and published. There are also entries for relatives, friends, and other persons important to Faulkner's biography; historical events, persons, and places; social and cultural developments; and literary and philosophical terms and movements. Entries are written by expert contributors and most provide bibliographic information for further study. The volume closes with a bibliography and detailed index.

Excerpt

William Faulkner is sometimes called "the American Shakespeare." The recent centennial of his birth -- September 25, 1997 -- was celebrated not only in his native Mississippi, where a life-size bronze statue of the famous author was placed on his hometown square, but also across the nation and even in such distant places as Paris, Beijing, Moscow, Tokyo, and Venice. Another measure of Faulkner's worldwide success and acclaim is that since his winning of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950 the annual Modern Language Association Bibliography has listed almost 5,000 scholarly books and articles devoted to his works -- on average, more than 100 per year. Among his contemporaries, only James Joyce has received as much critical attention.

Despite Faulkner's international fame and ongoing critical repute, there has not been until now an encyclopedia of his life and work. Previous overviews such as Dorothy Tuck's Crowell's Handbook of Faulkner (1964), Edmond L. Volpe's A Reader's Guide to William Faulkner (1964), and Walter K. Everett's Faulkner's Art and Characters (1969) -- all highly useful books in their time -- employed a much more restricted focus than the present work. Moreover, these books (when they can still be found) now appear quite dated, written as they were before the posthumous publication of a number of Faulkner texts and before the advent of deconstructionist approaches that have redefined Faulkner's handling of race, class, and gender issues.

Terry Eagleton has argued that any great writer's so-called universal appeal and stature result not so much from a worldwide or even national consensus regarding an absolute and timeless set of values as on the continuing relevance of that writer's texts to the shifting needs and emphases of successive generations of readers. Faulkner represents, and has benefited from, both sides of this question. Certainly he gave expression on numerous occasions to his belief in universality, what he termed "the old verities of the human heart"; and great numbers of readers, both in the United States and around the world, have found . . .

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