William Faulkner

William Faulkner : A Life through Novels

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Writing to American poet Malcolm Cowley in 1949, William Faulkner expressed his wish to be known only through his books. He would go on to win the Nobel Prize for literature several months later, and when he died famous in 1962, his biographers immediately began to unveil and dissect the unhappy life of "the little man from Mississippi." Despite the many works published about Faulkner, his life and career, it still remains a mystery how a poet of minor symbolist poems rooted in the history of the Deep South became one of the greatest novelists of the twentieth century. Here, renowned critic Andre Bleikasten revisits Faulkner's biography through the author's literary imagination. Weaving together correspondence and archival research with the graceful literary analysis for which he is known, Bleikasten presents a multi-strand account of Faulkner's life in writing. By carefully keeping both the biographical and imaginative lives in hand, Bleikasten teases out threads that carry the reader through the major events in Faulkner's life, emphasizing those circumstances that mattered most to his writing: the weight of his multi-generational family history in the South; the formation of his oppositional temperament provoked by a resistance to Southern bourgeois propriety; his creative and sexual restlessness and uncertainty; his lifelong struggle with finances and alcohol; his paradoxical escape to the bondages of Hollywood; and his final bent toward self-destruction. This is the story of the man who wrote timeless works and lived in and through his novels.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 552 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 40.64mm | 816.47g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 0253022843
  • 9780253022844
  • 1,029,402

About Andre Bleikasten

Andre Bleikasten (1933-2009) was Professor of American Literature at the University of Strasbourg, France and a prominent Faulkner scholar, internationally acclaimed for his study of Faulkner's early works in The Ink of Melancholy. He is also known for his studies of Philip Roth, Eudora Welty, and Flannery O'Connor.show more

Review quote

Bleikasten scants none of the life but is interested above all in the books. * New York Review of Books *show more

Table of contents

Foreword / Philip WeinsteinTestimony and Acknowledgements / Aimee BleikastenIntroduction / Andre BleikastenList of Abbreviations1. F(a)ulkner, MississippiA little history, a little geographyThree fathers, two mothersChildhoodThe attitudes of adolescence 2. ApprenticeshipsPan and Pierrot: the first masks(Self)criticismIn New OrleansThe switch to prose 3. Birth of a NovelistThe first novel: Soldiers' PayAn American in ParisIncomplete portrait of the artist as an artist: ElmerA diversion: Mosquitoes4. The First FloweringThe invention of Yoknapatawpha: Flags in the DustThe most splendid failure: The Sound and the FuryThe most horrific story: SanctuaryMourning becomes the Bundrens: As I Lay DyingVersions of the sun: Light in August 5. Mid-wayScenes from married lifeThe Master of Rowan OakThe first shadowsBack and forth to Hollywood Meta6. From Pylon to Go Down, Moses The hell of fascination: PylonThe novel as research: Absalom, Absalom!Southern Tales: The UnvanquishedFault lines, flux and floods: If I Forget Thee, JerusalemA comical pastoral: The HamletLegacies: Go Down, Moses 7. The Dark YearsUnder siegeHollywood, againLucas' lesson: Intruder in the DustA conventional detective story: Knight's GambitJoan 8. Fame--At LastThe Nobel PrizeThe public manSetbacks, distress and other miseriesRequiem for a Nun: the education of Temple DrakeThe Gospel according to Faulkner: A Fable9. The EndThe Virginia yearsThe Snopes, second and final instalment: The Town and The MansionThe farewell smile: The ReiversThe rider unseatedChronologySelected BibliographyIndex of NamesIndex of Worksshow more

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