25 September 2015

Happy Birthday to Mr. Faulkner

118 today.


**An afterthought . . . I was thinking after I posted this, would Faulkner have been as effective and successful a writer had it not been for his heritage, the culture by which he was surrounded and by his "sense of place?"

Speaks volumes about certain historians and critics who discount and even impugn those factors, does it not?

A Southern writer through and through, William Cuthbert Falkner (the original spelling of his last name) was born in the small town of New Albany, Mississippi, on September 25, 1897. His parents, Murry Falkner and Maud Butler Faulkner, named him after his paternal great-grandfather, William Clark Falkner, an adventurous and shrewd man who seven years prior was shot dead in the town square of Ripley, Mississippi. Throughout his life, William Clark Falkner worked as a railroad financier, politician, soldier, farmer, businessman, lawyer and—in his twilight years—best-selling author (The White Rose of Memphis).

The grandeur of the "Old Colonel," as almost everyone called him, loomed large in the minds of William Clark Falkner's children and grandchildren. The Old Colonel’s son, John Wesley Thompson, opened the First National Bank of Oxford in 1910. Instead of later bequeathing the railroad business to his son, Murry, however, Thompson sold it. Murry worked as the business manager for the University of Mississippi. Murry’s son, author William Falkner, held tightly to his great-grandfather’s legacy, writing about him in his earliest novels set in the American South.
Source.

9 comments:

Mark Snell said...

Faulkner was Shelby Foote's "hero," and he desperately tried to emulate his style. Faulkner commented that if Foote stopped trying to write like Faulkner and wrote more like Foote, he would be a better writer!

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hey Mark. "if Foote stopped trying to write like Faulkner and wrote more like Foote, he would be a better writer!"

True! But I think most of us (whether purposely or not) emulate the styles of writers we admire. I know I do. I think it comes naturally by who we choose and like to read. But one does have to craft his own style. I think Foote ultimately accomplished that.

Thanks for commenting.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Would Faulkner have been as effective and successful a writer had it not been for his heritage, the culture by which he was surrounded and by his "sense of place?"

Speaks volumes about pop historians who discount those factors, does it not?

Mark Snell said...

I think all writers (including and especially historians) are products of their heritage, culture, social standing, education, gender, etc. I always told my students that everyone has a bias. The trick to becoming a great and objective historian, however, is to recognize that bias, take a step back, and try to move beyond it. As for me, I'm still waiting on that elusive Pulitzer. Hell, I'd settle for a Bancroft or Lincoln Prize. OK, maybe just a positive book review.

Speaking of "sense of place," wait till you read the first chapter of my next book, an anthology of essays about Gettysburg (not just the battle). It's title is: My Gettysburg Address—“a little lot of stars”. You might recognize the quote.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...
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Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...
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Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

I agree Mark. Though I actually believe "bias" can enhance one's writing - if acknowledged and bridled. Could anyone other than a Freeman have written the definitive biography of Lee? I don't believe so. Could anyone other than a Robertson have written the definitive biography of Jackson? I don't believe so.

I'm really looking forward to your book. Be sure and remind me once it's out.

"A human life, I think, should be well rooted in some area of native land where it may get the love of tender kinship from the earth, for the labors men go forth to, for the sounds and accents that haunt it, for whatever will give that early home a familiar unmistakable difference amidst the future widening of knowledge. The best introduction to astronomy is to think of the nightly heavens as a little lot of stars belonging to one’s own homestead." ~ George Eliot

Sounds very similar to:

"I think the American people lose a large part of the joy of life because they do not live for generations in the same place." ~ Douglas Southall Freeman

Jubilo said...

Dear Old Dom.,

I have enjoyed Faulkner's descriptions of nature, his philosophy of manhood and his ability to hold all groups of people to a test of truth. He is an equal-opportunity offender in that he criticizes whites, blacks. rich, poor, Confederates and Yankee alike.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Jub - a true national treasure.