William Cuthbert Faulkner (September 25, 1897 July 6, 1962) was a Nobel Prize winning novelist from Mississippi. He is regarded as one of America's most influential fiction writers. Faulkner was known for using long, serpentine sentences and meticulously chosen diction, in stark contrast to the minimalist style of his longtime rival, Ernest Hemingway. Some consider Faulkner to be the only true American Modernist prose fiction writer of the 1930s, following in the experimental tradition of European writers such as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Marcel Proust and Thomas Mann. His work is known for literary devices like stream of consciousness, multiple narrations or points of view, and narrative time shifts. Along with Mark Twain and possibly Tennessee Williams, Faulkner is one of the most important "Southern writers". He was relatively unknown before receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949, but his work is now favored by the general public and critics. Life Faulkner was born William Falkner (without a "u") in New Albany, Mississippi, and raised in and heavily influenced by that state, as well as by the history and culture of the South. His great-grandfather, William Clark Falkner, was an important figure in northern Mississippi who served as a colonel in the Confederate Army, founded a railroad, and gave his name to the town of Falkner in nearby Tippah County. Perhaps most importantly, he wrote several novels and other works, establishing a literary tradition in the family. More relevantly, Colonel Falkner served as the model for Colonel John Sartoris in his great-grandson's writing. It is understandable that the older Falkner was influenced by the history of his family and the region in which they lived. Mississippi marked his sense of humor, his sense of the tragic position of blacks and whites, his keen characterization of usual Southern characters and his timeless themes, one of them being that fiercely intelligent people dwelled behind the facades of good old boys and simpletons. After being snubbed by the United States Army because of his height, Faulkner first joined the Canadian and then the Royal Air Force, yet still did not see any of the World War I wartime action. The definitive reason for Faulkner's change in the spelling of his last name is still unknown. Some possibilities include adding an "u" to appear more British when entering the Royal Air Force, or so that his name would come across as more aristocratic. He may have also simply kept a misspelling that an early editor had made. Although Faulkner is heavily identified with Mississippi, he was living in New Orleans in 1925 when he wrote his first novel, Soldiers' Pay, after being influenced by Sherwood Anderson into trying fiction. The small house at 624 Pirate's Alley, just around the corner from St. Louis Cathedral, is now the premises of Faulkner House Books, and also serves as the headquarters of the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society. Faulkner married Estelle Oldham in April of 1929 at College Hill Presbyterian Church just outside of Oxford, Misssissippi. On writing, Faulkner remarked, "Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error. The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him," in an interview with The Paris Review in 1956. Works Faulkner's most celebrated novels include The Sound and the Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), Light in August (1932), The Unvanquished (1938), and Absalom, Absalom! (1936). Faulkner was a prolific writer of short stories: his first short story collection, These 13 (1932), includes many of his most acclaimed (and most frequently anthologized) stories, including "A Rose for Emily," "Barn Burning," "Red Leaves," "That Evening Sun," and "Dry September." In 1931 in an effort to make money, Faulkner crafted Sanctuary, a sensationalist "pulp fiction"-styled novel. Andre Malraux characterised "Sanctuary" as "intrusion of Greek tragedy in the pulp fiction". Its themes of evil and corruption (bearing Southern Gothic tones) resonate to this day. A sequel to the book, Requiem for a Nun, is the only play that he published. It includes an introduction that is actually one sentence spanning more than a page. Faulkner was also an acclaimed writer of mysteries, publishing a collection of crime fiction, Knight's Gambit, that featured Gavin Stevens (who also appeared in Light in August, Go Down, Moses, The Town, Intruder in the Dust, and the short story "Hog Pawn"), an attorney, wise to the ways of folk living in Yoknapatawpha County. He set many of his short stories and novels in his fictional Yoknapatawpha County, based onand nearly identical to in terms of geographyLafayette County, of which his hometown of Oxford, Mississippi, is the county seat; Yoknapatawpha was his very own "postage stamp" and it is considered to be one of the most monumental fictional creations in the history of literature. His former home in Oxford, Rowan Oak, is operated as a museum by the University of Mississippi. Faulkner wrote two volumes of poetry -- The Marble Faun (1924) and A Green Bough (1933), neither of which was well received. Awards Faulkner's Literary accolades are numerous. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 for "his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel." Interestingly enough, only two of what would be considered as Faulkner's "minor" novels were those to receive the Pulitzer Prize. First was his 1954 novel A Fable, which took the Pulitzer in 1955, and then his 1962 novel, "The Reivers," which was awarded the Pulitzer in 1963. He also won two National Book Awards, first for his Collected Stories in 1951 and once again for his novel A Fable in 1955. Later years In the later years, Faulkner moved to Hollywood to be a screenwriter (producing scripts for Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep and Ernest Hemingway's To Have and Have Not, both directed by Howard Hawks). Faulkner started an affair with Hawks' secretary, Meta Carpenter. Faulkner was rather famous for drinking as well, and throughout his life was known to be an alcoholic. An apocryphal story regarding Faulkner in his Hollywood period found him with a case of writer's block at the studio. He told Hawks he was having a hard time concentrating and would like to write at home. Hawks was agreeable, and Faulkner left. Several days passed,with no word from the writer. Hawks telephoned Faulkner's hotel and found that Faulkner had checked out several days earlier. It seems Faulkner had been quite literal and had returned home to Mississippi to finish the screenplay.
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