Sunday, September 25, 2005

William Faulkner (1897 - 1962)

William (Harrison) Faulkner was born William Cuthbert Faulkner on this day in 1897. The imaginary Mississippi county and inhabitants that he created in his series of novels are alive and well.

Faulkner's literary legacy is well intact in the usual fashion, with numerous literary societies and scholarly journals devoted to his works. Let us not forget the much-needed academic "Centers-For-The Microdicsection of [insert academic Faulkner navel-gazing hobby here]".

There are many on-line Faulkner resources. You would do well to visit this website as a jumping-off point no matter what your individual interest or reason.

Yesterday my eldest daughter picked up a crusty brittle paperback copy of "The Sound and the Fury" that was laying in one of the unpacked boxes. She remarked "Oh, Faulkner is so hard to read sometimes". I suppose what she meant was that Faulkner's style was difficult to read. His prose is rife with unusual or missing punctuation, run-on sentences and rambling parenthetical inclusions lacking sentence breaks, and uncommon syntax. I believe that these quirky devices contribute the greatness of the work.

My appreciation for Faulkner came from reading the works of a more recent and much more light-hearted southern writer, T.R. Pearson. Pearson uses many of the same quirky devices to great effect, the circuitous run-on sentence in particular. I devoured
A Short History of a Small Place the summer it came out (1985), and have read every word from Pearson's pen since. In times of sorrow I have returned again and again to Short History and found a measure of joy, if not a gracious plenty of rolling belly laughs.

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