Writer William Faulkner: The Free Spirit of the South
William Faulkner, he was the legend the English class who was known as the writer whose intellect was so big that his mind could not be contained in a formal classroom or in a regular nine to five job.
He started out in the lower elementary grades as a good student, but this free spirit grew bored and dropped out of high school after repeating the 11th and 12th grades in order to read and study on his own. And legend has it that this man was such a voracious reader that he would about bankrupt the library shelves of all it’s books, and he was also even fired from his postal job in the mail room of a university for reading other people’s mail.
Faulkner was quite the Southern rebel as an author, for rather than writing for the traditional publishers of the day, he wrote mostly motivated just by the art of it, and thus, he faced the rejection of both his short stories and his early books, such as his World War I based novels entitled Soldiers Pay and Flags in the Dust, although the latter did finally find a publisher. He even wrote a biting satire mocking the established Southern literary scene entitled Mosquitoes. He was also quite dispassionate about the formal technique the publishers expected when he said in an interview,
Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no ,mechanical way to get writing done, no shortcuts. The young writer would be a fool to follow such theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes…
Faulkner was much influenced by such modernist writers such as James Joyce, often employing a Joycean brand of stream of consciousness style.
Faulkner was born William Falkner in New Albany, Mississippi on September 25, 1897 but was raised in Oxford, Mississippi, located in Lafayette County, by his businessman father Murry Cuthbert Falkner, and his mother, Maud Falkner, and he was much inspired by stories of the bold life of his Civil War hero great grandfather Colonel William Clark Falkner, who was also a legend as a railway builder and an author in his own rite. And young Falkner even emulated his great grandfather by doing a stint in The Royal Canadian Air Force during WWI, however, he did not see combat.
The young William Falkner later adopted the pen name of Faulkner which was the result of a misprint of his name on a title page. Most of his most important novels such as The Sound and the Fury and as I Lay Dying were set in a fictional county and based on Lafayette County and the town of Oxford called Yoknapatawpha County and the fictional town of Jefferson and dealt with such sophisticated subjects as Southern racism in America and the complex relationships between the the members of a poor white family while transporting the decaying corpse of their dead mother across the county to the nearby town of Jefferson. The expression of each person’s thought processes along the way was expressed in stream of consciousness writing. And the book proves to be quite gristly and private thoughts quite dicey with each character harboring their own secret ulterior motives for making the arduous trip across creek and county.
In writing these masterpieces Faulkner proved himself to be one of the South’s most accomplished writers by winning both the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Faulkner died of a heart attack on July 6, 1962 while dwelling in a nursing facility in Byhalia, Mississippi.