Presentation on theme: "Introduction to Literature Lesson twelve: Faulkner Self-Identity Margarette Connor."— Presentation transcript:
Introduction to Literature Lesson twelve: Faulkner Self-Identity Margarette Connor
Contents l Faulkner biography l “A Rose for Miss Emily” discussion l tableau
Introduction l Today we are going to be looking at a very famous story by one of America’s most important writers, William Faulkner. And while Faulker is most famous for his novels, he was also a master craftsman when it comes to short stories. One of the reasons Faulkner’s stories keep showing up in anthologies is their meticulous crafting.
Some of his major works l The Sound and the Fury,1929 l As I Lay Dying,1930 l Sanctuary,1931 l Light in August,1932 l The Wild Palms,1939 l Absalom, Absalom!1936 l The Hamlet,1940 l A Fable,1954 Faulkner was especially proud of his riding habit.
Faulkner on the short story form l “Yes sir. You can be more careless, you can put more trash in [a novel] and be excused for it. In a short story that's next to the poem, almost every word has got to be almost exactly right. In the novel you can be careless but in the short story you can't. I mean by that the good short stories like Chekhov wrote. That's why I rate that second — it's because it demands a nearer absolute exactitude. You have less room to be slovenly and careless. There's less room in it for trash.”
What writers should write about: l The “problems of the human heart in conflict with itself…alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.” Faulkner, in his Nobel Prize Acceptance speech, 1950.
A remarkable feat l “It is one of the more remarkable feats of American literature, how a young man who never graduated from high school, never received a college degree, living in a small town in the poorest state in the nation, all the while balancing a growing family of dependents and impending financial ruin, could during the Great Depression write a series of novels all set in the same small Southern county — novels that include As I Lay Dying, Light in August, and above all, Absalom, Absalom! — that would one day be recognized as among the greatest novels ever written by an American.” John B. Padgett
Yoknapatawpha County William Faulkner, Sole Owner & Proprietor l Based on his own home county of Lafayette, Mississippi. l Faulkner included a hand-drawn map of the county as an appendix to Absalom, Absalom!
Writing honors, part one l Elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters, 1939 l Nobel Prize for Literature, 1949 l Awarded the Howells Medal for distinguished work in American Fiction, 1950 l National Book Award,1951 l Awarded the French Legion of Honor, 1951 l A Fable awarded the National Book Award for Fiction and a Pulitzer Prize, 1955
Writing honors, part two l Silver Medal of the Athens Academy “as one chosen by the Greek Academy to represent the principle that man shall be free,” 1959 l A Reminiscence, Pulitzer Prize, posthumously awarded, 1962 l Eudora Welty presented Faulkner with the Gold Medal for Fiction awarded by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1962, a month before his death
Birth l William Cuthbert Falkner (as his name was then spelled) l Born on September 25, 1897, in New Albany, Mississippi
Parents and family l Murry and Maud Butler Falkner first of four sons. l Named after his great-grandfather, William Clark Falkner, the “Old Colonel,” had been killed eight years earlier in a duel with his former business partner in the streets of Ripley, Mississippi. l A few days before William’s fifth birthday, the Falkners moved to Oxford, Mississippi. Father Murry
Indifferent student l Demonstrated artistic talent at a young age, drawing and writing poetry. l Around the sixth grade he began to grow increasingly bored with his studies. l Finally, he dropped out of high school in 1915.
A broken heart l He lost his sweetheart, Estelle Oldham, to another man. l Her family pressured her into marrying a young lawyer. Estelle Oldham’s yearbook photo, 1913
Moves to New Haven l Faulkner went to stay with a friend studying law at Yale in New Haven. l There Faulkner first took a job with the Winchester Repeating Arms Company for the first time, his name was spelled “Faulkner” in employee records, possibly the result of a typing error.
RAF Cadet l June 1918, became a cadet in training in the Royal Air Force in Canada. l Earlier had tried to join the U.S. Army Air Force, but turned down because of his height. l In his RAF application, he lied in an attempt to pass himself off as British. Also spelled his name “Faulkner,” believing it looked more British, and in meeting with RAF officials he affected a British accent. l Began training in Toronto, but before he finished training, the war ended. He received an honorable discharge.
Mississippi and university l Back in Oxford in 1919, enrolled at the University of Mississippi in Oxford under a special provision for war veterans, even though he had never graduated from high school. l In August, his first published poem, “L’Apres-Midi d’un Faune” [sic], appeared in The New Republic. l After three semesters of study at “Ole Miss”, he dropped out in November 1920.
Not a very good worker! l His most notorious job during this period was his stint as postmaster in the university post office from the spring of 1922 to October 31, 1924. By all accounts, he was a terrible postmaster, spending much of his time reading or playing cards with friends, misplacing or losing mail, and failing to serve customers. When a postal inspector came to investigate, he agreed to resign.
Literary friends l In January 1925, Faulkner moved to New Orleans. l Group of friends there centered around The Double Dealer, literary magazine whose credits include the first published works of Hart Crane, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Penn Warren, and Edmund Wilson.
Estelle Faulkner l In April 1929, Estelle Oldham divorced. l In June she and Faulkner were married. l Estelle brought to the marriage two children, Malcolm and Victoria.
As I Lay Dying l After his marriage, and his increased needs for funds Faulkner works nights at a power plant. l While there, wrote As I Lay Dying, later claiming it was a “tour de force” and that he had written it “in six weeks, without changing a word.” l Published in October 1930.
1930 a significant year l First, he bought a decrepit antebellum house in Oxford. l Faulkner named the house “Rowan Oak,” after a Scottish legend alluding to the protective powers of wood from the rowan tree.
Also publishing success l First national publication of a short story, “A Rose for Emily,” in Forum magazine. l Followed that year by “Honor” in American Mercury, l “Thrift,” and “Red Leaves,” both in the Saturday Evening Post.
Survival strategies l Over the coming years, as sales of his novels sagged, he would write numerous short stories for publication, especially in the Saturday Evening Post, as a principal means of financial support. Faulkner, 1931
The bitter and the sweet l In January 1931, Estelle gave birth to a daughter, Alabama. The child, born prematurely, lived only a few days. l Faulkner’s first collection of short stories, These 13, would be published in September and dedicated to “Estelle and Alabama.”
Hollywood l In 1932 Faulkner began his association with Hollywood. l He would write screenplays on and off through the 1950s. l Most weren’t memorable. In Hollywood mode.
The best Faulkner films l Hit his pinnacle in the mid-1940s with: l The Big Sleep, based on Raymond Chandler’s detective novel,1944 l To Have and Have Not, based on the Ernest Hemingway novel,1945 l The Southerner,1945.
Daughter born l Jill Faulkner, his only surviving child, was born in 1933. l The Faulkner family was intensely private, so there are no photos available of them. l It wasn’t until after Faulkner won the Nobel Prize that he consented to do publicity tours.
Wright’s Sanatorium l January 1936, Faulkner spent what would be the first of many stays at a nursing home facility in Byhalia, Mississippi. l He would go to recover from his drinking binges. l Not yet an alcoholic in a clinical sense, would go on extended drinking binges, oftentimes at the conclusion of a writing project.
Nobel Prize l His Nobel Prize Acceptance speech is today considered one of the finest ever made. After the ceremony.
Post-Nobel l In the last years of his life, Faulkner often undertook good will tours throughout the world at the request of the US State department.
Desegregation l He got involved, albeit rather unwillingly, in the debate about desegregation in the South. l He was morally against segregation, but felt the government should not get involved. l He was also against forced integration.
Writer-in-residence l From February to June 1957, Faulkner was writer-in-residence at the University of Virginia. l He agreed to a number of question-and-answer sessions with the students, faculty, and faculty spouses. l These were published as Faulkner in the University.
The End l On July 6, 1962 Faulkner died of a heart attack. l He was 64. The final formal portrait.
“A Rose for Emily” l Faulkner's first short story published in a national magazine l Originally published in Forum Magazine, April 30, 1930. l Later reprinted in a revised version in These 13. l Original version was reprinted in Collected Stories.
The germ of an idea l Where he got the idea: l “That came from a picture of the strand of hair on the pillow. It was a ghost story. Simply a picture of a strand of hair on the pillow in the abandoned house.” Faulkner in the University
Questions about the story l What happened between Emily and Homer Barron? Were they in love? Did Homer get cold feet? Or did Emily just take action to prevent him from doing that? l Why did Homer pick up Emily, a spinster? Is Homer Gay?
Images/themes l Decay and rot –symbol of the South, of the old ways, of the Grierson’s, of Emily’s mind, or that of Homer’s body? l Faulkner said he did not want to present the decay of the South, but the readers are free do make the association.
Images/themes l Time and the Past.—flashbacks; l Actually the story is told in the order of importance. Linear time is not important; the past is always present. l e.g. Emily herself; the old soldiers remember dancing with Emily, but actually they are not old enough to do so. l See paragraph 55, “to whom the past is not a diminishing road but, instead, a huge meadow which no winter ever quite touches, divided from them now by the narrow bottle-neck of the most recent decade of years.”
Setting: Jefferson l A character with a voice: “we” the town, its collective voice, speaking to us.
Emily l A Faulknerian life-and-death figure, physically alive but spiritually dead. l A defiant spirit representing the past against the town’s needs for progress. A voice of the old triumphs over the new. l “vanguish” “horse and foot” her battle
Tableau vivant ( 活人畫像 ) l Her father’s portrait l A representation of a scene, picture, by a person or group in costume, posing silently without motion, an actual stoppage of human action, "a freezing of time and motion in order that a certain quality of the human experience may be held and contemplated"
Miss Emily’s tableau vivant l "We had long thought of them as a tableau, Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the backflung front door."
Links to the tableau vivant l Miss Emily, the “idol” in the window, paragraph 24. l Followed immediately by the tableau of she and her father, paragraph 25. l Resembles the angels in the church windows, paragraph 29. l The “carven torso of the idol in the niche” paragraph 51.
The town Emily l Feels pity for her; that she is falling but it’s not her fault; Wants her to get married. l Emily is not to be looked down upon her way of getting the poison; [the town thought she was going to commit suicide.]
Faulkner on Miss Emily l "She had been trained that you do not take a lover. You marry, you don’t take a lover. She had broken all the laws of her tradition, her background, and she had finally broken the laws of God, too, which says you do not take a human life. And she knew what she was doing was wrong, and that’s why her own life was wrecked. Instead of murdering one lover, and then to go and take another and when she used him up murder him, she was expatiating her crime."
Emily in Old age l Is she in repentance? l Grey hair: Faulkner’s symbol of determination l Final Image the town has of her: that of a statue, a monument, idol she is elevated above the town, apart from it, but not a part of the town. l A fallen monument: antedated, or fallen in sins.
One Sentence Paragraph l Very rare in Faulkner, who tends to write in long paragraphs; l The most shocking thing—one long grey hair. Homer, besides the housekeeper, was her only connection to life. Now after he dies, she still needs his company.
Symbols: the rose in the title l Rose -- or the funeral l Faulkner: “I just want to give her a rose.” l In his later age, Faulkner expresses a lot of pity and sympathy for her.
Symbols: her House & the Tax l The house: Coquettish decay-- flirting with us– but still a eyesore l Tax: the exemption as an act of courtesy of the older generation.