The 41st annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha conference: Faulkner and History, 2014
25 September, 2013
William Faulkner (1897-1962) is a renowned Nobel Prize-winning novelist and one of the most influential American writers, acclaimed throughout the world as one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers. He is remembered for novels and short stories that explore the complex culture and tragic legacy of the American South.
The 41st annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha conference, July 20-24 will be devoted to an interdisciplinary conversation between literary scholars and historians exploring the rich relationship between history and the life and art of William Faulkner. How do specific histories—of Mississippi, of the U.S. South, of the nation, of the Americas, of the Atlantic or Pacific regions, of modernity, of technology, of private or everyday life, of the environment, of ideas and intellectual work, of the senses or affects, of underrepresented populations, groups, or societies, of colonialism and empire, of global movements, migrations, and exchanges, and so on—illuminate, challenge, complicate, or otherwise situate Faulkner’s imaginative writings and public performances? What in turn can Faulkner’s life and work contribute to a deeper understanding of such historical moments, problems, or domains?
The quotes attributed to the great author William Faulkner
“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” ~ William Faulkner
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.” ~ William Faulkner
William Faulkner – Biographical
William Faulkner was born on 25 September 1897, New Albany, MS, USA. He came from an old southern family, grew up in Oxford, Mississippi. He joined the Canadian, and later the British, Royal Air Force during the First World War, studied for a while at the University of Mississippi, and temporarily worked for a New York bookstore and a New Orleans newspaper. Except for some trips to Europe and Asia, and a few brief stays in Hollywood as a scriptwriter, he worked on his novels and short stories on a farm in Oxford.
In an attempt to create a saga of his own, Faulkner has invented a host of characters typical of the historical growth and subsequent decadence of the South. The human drama in Faulkner’s novels is then built on the model of the actual, historical drama extending over almost a century and a half Each story and each novel contributes to the construction of a whole, which is the imaginary Yoknapatawpha County and its inhabitants. Their theme is the decay of the old South, as represented by the Sartoris and Compson families, and the emergence of ruthless and brash newcomers, the Snopeses.
Theme and technique – the distortion of time through the use of the inner monologue are fused particularly successfully in The Sound and the Fury (1929), the downfall of the Compson family seen through the minds of several characters. The novel Sanctuary (1931) is about the degeneration of Temple Drake, a young girl from a distinguished southern family. Its sequel, Requiem For A Nun (1951), written partly as a drama, centered on the courtroom trial of a Negro woman who had once been a party to Temple Drake’s debauchery. In Light in August (1932), prejudice is shown to be most destructive when it is internalized, as in Joe Christmas, who believes, though there is no proof of it, that one of his parents was a Negro. The theme of racial prejudice is brought up again in Absalom, Absalom! (1936), in which a young man is rejected by his father and brother because of his mixed blood. Faulkner’s most outspoken moral evaluation of the relationship and the problems between Negroes and whites is to be found in Intruder In the Dust (1948).
In 1940, Faulkner published the first volume of the Snopes trilogy, The Hamlet, to be followed by two volumes, The Town (1957) and The Mansion (1959), all of them tracing the rise of the insidious Snopes family to positions of power and wealth in the community. The reivers, his last – and most humorous – work, with great many similarities to Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, appeared in 1962, the year of Faulkner’s death. From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969. This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above. William Faulkner died on July 6, 1962, Byhalia, MS, USA.
William Faulkner received his Nobel Prize one year later, in 1950.
Prize motivation: “for his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel” Nobelprize.org
For more information, visit the University of Mississippi Web site at: William Faulkner Collections