Saturday, September 25, 2010

Random thoughts on William Faulkner on his birthday

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Happy birthday William Faulkner (September 25, 1897 - July 6, 1962)!

A hundred and thirteen years ago, William Faulkner was born. One of my all time favorite authors, the world he's created remains large and resonant in my mind (and many others!). Faulkner rose on my horizon again lately when Peter Brantley's blog post "Get in the goddamn wagon" appeared earlier this month. The post, about the failures of the top library leadership in North America, took it's title from the great short story, "The
Bear".

Since I was doing some home library cleaning, I took this time to dig out and arrange my collection of Faulkner paperbacks (see picture right). Most of them are the first copies I read (though I think this is my second copy of The Sound and the Fury).

One of Faulkner's slighter works, Knight's Gambit, a collection of short stories and the title novella, inspired my short article, “Faulkner's 'Knight's Gambit'.” Explicator 45.3 (Spring 1987): 47-48. The article examines a relationship between the novella and a now little known novel, The White Rose of Memphis (New York, G. W. Carleton & co.; 1881), by Faulkner's grandfather, William Clark Falkner.

Knight's Gambit also contains the story, "An Error in Chemistry" which is a must read for any mixologist out there and a warning to those who don't take their drink seriously!

A few more random Faulkner tidbits:
  • Listen to his Nobel Prize speech
  • A friend of mine who worked at the University of Virginia (where in his later years Faulkner taught) had a lovely old desk chair, salvaged from the trash, that was reputed to have one been in ole Bill's office at Mr. Jefferson's University
  • Faulkner lived in New Orleans for a while (and wrote his first published novel, Soldier's Pay, while there); the house he lived in, at 624 Pirate’s Alley, is now the home of Faulkner House Books, and right near the Pirate's Alley Cafe and Absinthe Bar House, where I had my first taste of the green fairy!
  • In grad school, you had to fill out 3x5 cards with some facts about you, including favorite book. I put down Absalom!, Absalom! (because I don't hate the South - Faulkner joke!)

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