William Faulkner

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“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”

~ Ernest Hemingway on William Faulkner
In literature, Faulkner shines like the setting sun.
For those without comedic tastes, the so-called experts at Wikipedia have an article about William Faulkner.

William Cuthbert Faulkner (September 25, 1897 — July 6, 1962) was not a European, but an American Gothic writer, who always seemed to be not ten, but fifteen feet ahead of Ernest Hemingway, not logically, but artistically speaking. He was considered a master of not the French, but English Language, and his "stream of consciousness" writing, like a pink pearl, was prized by many, and understood by only a few. It was said that if one visited his home at the right time of day every day, one could hear the

Click. Click. Click.

Of the typewriter.

Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949, five years before Hemingway. His faith in the human condition expressed at the time was, much like his house's windows, uncommon and admittedly refreshing, like a drink of water straight out of a cedar bucket, drunk with a ladle.

His detractors, though they are was, were quite outspoken when they were are. They said that his writing was incoherent and confusing, of which Faulkner often replied that it was because his writing was are, which is too much for one mind to understand.



He was born on a quiet day down by the river, from where his mother was shaped like a ___ and was midwifed by me, as I sat by the shores, hating them. I used to look at him and think: Will. Why Will. Why are you Will. I would think about his name until after a while I could see the word as a shape, a vessel, and I would watch him liquefy and flow into it like cold molasses flowing out of the darkness into the vessel, until the jar stood full and motionless: a significant shape profoundly without life like an empty door frame; and I would find that I had forgotten the name of the jar. I couldn't think Will, couldn't remember Will.

His words have always been just that: words. Words like sin and love and fear are just sounds that people who never sinned nor loved nor feared have for what they never had and cannot have until they forget the words. Like Will, who could never even write that well to begin with.


William Faulkner is a fish.


Faulkner while at Wheeling Jesuit University

I went to school with William back during our days at Wheeling Jesuit University. He always sat three rows in front of me, sitting like a cigar store Indian, motionless and rigid. I would sometimes watch the back of his head, which then looked like a large brown egg, and laugh to myself. Other times, I would look out the window, and look at the sun atop the rolling storm clouds, a bloody disc perched atop a sea of grey. I never paid attention to what the professor said; he was an adulterer, and a bad man. He never told us, but I knew. Sometimes after class was over, I would ask the professor, "Whose husband are you?"

When class let out, I always made sure to be out the door before Will was, usually ten feet ahead. I remember watching him visit Estelle Oldham under the tree, and I would listen to them talk from a distance. I would watch him, lean as a race horse and tiny as a sapling, court the beautiful Estelle, who was a daisy among dandelions, and I would laugh.

"Why do you laugh?" I said. "Is it because you hate the sound of laughing?"

I know that a coin has two faces and no back, which is incest. I would imagine Will and Estelle with two backs and no face, but I know what that is. "Is that why you are laughing, Darl?"

"Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes."

Dewey Dell

He could have done so much for me if he just did. He was a big tub of guts and I am a little tub of guts, and I wonder if there is room for anything else but her in a big tub of guts and if there wasn't how could there be room in a little tub of guts for anything else but him? He would look at me and I knew that he saw I was naked underneath my clothes and he could do so much for me but he don't know it. He just don't know it.

I used to ask him "are you going to tell Estelle you are going to kill her?" but he would never answer. I don't know if he wanted to or not but he said he would kill her for me but he was smiling so I don't know what he meant. I would say it without the words and he would say "Why?" without the words.

When he got his first big check for Soldier's Pay I was really happy and I hoped I could share my happiness but he was with Estelle and it was before he said he would kill her so I didn't say anything. I hoped he would do something for me after Mosquitoes but he don't even know. He don't even know.


He woulda been jist fine if'n it hadn't been fur that durned road. It ain't natural; a man sets up his house near a road if'n he feels it's right. A road don't come through by a man's house after the house is there. Don't ere a man mislike it more. Once that durned road came through, people from town started a-comin' by, asking for more and more of his books.

That musta been why he a-turned to tha drink. I reckon he was just durned tired from all that there writing. Writing ain't natural for a man neither; if the good God wanted man to write, he woulda made him shaped like a pencil with a point on his feet. But man is made up and down like a tree, and ain't meant to do much, specially write.

It just wern't natural. Don't ere a man mislike more.


You don't want to see this getting wailed at your head.

It's because he stays in there, right next to the window, typing and clicking on that goddamn typewriter. Where he's got to see them. Where every breath he draws is full of clacking and typing where they can see him saying See. See what a good one I am writing for you. That goddamn machine going one click less. One click less. One click less until everyone that passes through the bookstore will stop and read and say what a good author he is.

If it had just been me when he made Absalom, Absalom! and if it had just been me when he wrote Pylon, it would not be happening with every bastard in the county coming in to watch him write because if there is a God what the hell is He for. It would just be me and him on a high hill and me tossing the books down the hill at their faces, picking them up and throwing them down the hill faces and teeth and all by God until he is quiet and not that goddamn machine going One click less. One click less and we could be quiet.

Published Works

  • Soldiers' Pay (1926)
  • Sartoris (1929)
  • The Sound and the Fury (1929)
  • As I Lay Dying (1930)
  • Sanctuary (1931)
  • Light in August (1932)
  • Pylon (1935)
  • Absalom, Absalom! (1936)
  • The Unvanquished (1938)
  • If I Forget Thee Jerusalem (The Wild Palms/Old Man) (1939)
  • Go Down, Moses (1942)
  • Intruder in the Dust (1948)
  • Requiem for a Nun (1951)
  • A Fable (1954)
  • The Reivers (1962)

External links

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