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See the reminiscences of his brother, John (1963); biographies by H. H. Waggoner (1959), J. Blotner (2 vol., 1974, repr. 1984), and P. Weinstein (2009); studies by R. P. Adams (1968), L. G. Leary (1973), and J. W. Reed, Jr. (1973); J. N. Duvall, ed., Faulkner and His Critics (2010); M. Gorra, The Saddest Words: William Faulkner's Civil War (2020).
Born Sept. 25, 1897, in New Albany, Miss.; died July 6, 1962, in Oxford, Miss. American writer.
Faulkner came from an aristocratic southern family of plantation owners. During World War I he served in the Canadian Air Force but did not see combat. After the war he attended the University of Mississippi for one year, then worked as a house painter, a clerk, and a postmaster. Faulkner’s first published work was a collection of verse, The Marble Faun (1924), written under the influence of French symbolism. In 1925, Faulkner met the writer S. Anderson. Faulkner’s first novel, Soldiers’ Pay (1926; Russian translation, 1966), was written in the spirit of the “lost generation”; the novel Mosquitoes (1927) shows the influence of A. Huxley.
Faulkner’s novel Sartoris (1929; Russian translation, 1973) is the first in a cycle of works set in the fictional Southern county of Yoknapatawpha. The novel The Sound and the Fury (1929; Russian translation, 1973) explored and developed the theme, first announced in Sartoris, of the dying patriarchal tradition of the agrarian South and the disintegration and dehumanization of its social relations. Faulkner linked the decay of the South to a fatal error committed in the past—the recognition of slavery as a legal institution. Faulkner’s heroes, who include members of the old plantation-owning generation and sharecroppers of the type portrayed in As I Lay Dying (1930), are perishing along with the “Southern civilization” that gave them birth.
Sanctuary (1931), which described the crimes of a sadistic gangster who purely by chance falls into the hands of the police, brought Faulkner, hitherto a critics’ writer, commercial success and an invitation to Hollywood as a screenwriter and consultant. The novel Light in August (1932; Russian translation, 1974) plunged even deeper into the world of the South, depicting the dying principles of racism and puritanism and their cruel and unalterable influence on people’s lives. One of Faulkner’s finest novels, Absalom, Absalom! (1936), concerns the fate of the Southern colonel Sutpen, whose drive is powerless to reverse the inevitable course of events: his every initiative dies, every idea is doomed from the outset.
Incipient predatory capitalist relations and the decay of the old patriarchal relations were the subject of Faulkner’s “Southern epic”—the trilogy comprising The Hamlet (1940; Russian translation, 1964), The Town (1957; Russian translation, 1965), and The Mansion (1959; Russian translation, 1961)—which depicted the representatives of the “new generation,” the Snopes family, a clan of cruel, cold-blooded businessmen. For Faulkner, only the Snopeses are capable of surviving in the changed spiritual climate of the South.
Faulkner’s later works of note include Requiem for a Nun (1951; Russian translation of A. Camus’s dramatization, 1970), Intruder in the Dust (1948; Russian translation, 1968), an unusual detective novel, and A Fable (1954). Throughout his career, the short story remained Faulkner’s favorite genre; his collections include These Thirteen (1931) and Go Down, Moses (1942).
Although Faulkner’s early works leaned toward the experimental European novel, particularly the stream of consciousness novel, his work unquestionably belongs to the literature of critical realism. Faulkner’s creative method is characterized by a profound historicism, a tendency to use symbolism and to develop a narrative on several temporal levels, and the use of lofty rhetoric. A profoundly national writer, tied by birth to the fate of the American South and its past and present, mythology, culture, language, and everyday life, Faulkner was at the same time a classic writer of 20th-century world literature. His work is illuminated by a faith in the inexhaustible nature of the human spirit and in man’s boundless capacity for compassion, sacrifice, and fortitude.
Faulkner was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1949.
WORKSA Green Bough. New York, 1933.
The Wild Palms. New York .
Collected Stories. New York, 1950.
Big Woods. New York, 1955.
Knight’s Gambit. New York, 1956.
The Reivers. New York, 1962.
The Unvanquished. Harmondsworth, 1965.
Essays, Speeches, and Public Letters. London, 1967.
Flags in the Dust. New York, 1973.
In Russian translation:
Sem’ rasskazov. Moscow, 1958.
[Izbrannoe.] Moscow, 1973.
Sobranie rasskazov. [Edited by A. M. Zverev.] Moscow, 1977.
REFERENCESMendel’son, M. “U. Folkner.” In his book Sovremennyi amerikanskii roman. Moscow, 1964.
Zasurskii, Ia. N. “Potok soznaniia: Shum i iarost Uil’iama Folknera.” In his book Amerikanskaia literatura XX v. Moscow, 1966.
Cowley, M. “U. Folkner: Svezhii vzgliad na Folknera.” In his book Dom so mnogimi oknami. Moscow, 1973.
Palievskii, P. V. “Put’ U. Folknera k realizmu: Amerika Folknera.” In his book Puti realizma. Moscow, 1974.
Palievskii, P. V. “Folkner i Kamiu.” Ibid.
Brooks, C. William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Country. New Haven-London, 1963.
Adams, R. Faulkner: Myth and Motion. Princeton, N.J., 1968.
Reed, J. W. Faulkner’s Narrative. New Haven-London, 1973.
William Faulkner: Four Decades of Criticism. East Lansing, Mich., 1973.
William Faulkner: A Collection of Criticism. New York, 1973.
Blotner, J. Faulkner: A Biography, vols. 1–2. New York, 1974.
V. I. BERNATSKAIA