Liukkonen states that William Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1949 with a different type of style which is not very easy to grasp and is considered to have connections to European literary modernism. His sentences are long and at times he withholds important details referring to people or events that the reader will not learn about until further into the story. After dropping out of college, Faulkner began writing which many scholars believed his early works resembled the likes of Keats, Tennyson, Swinburne, and the fin-de-siècle English poetry (Liukkonen). His early works were not considered a success. After Faulkner wrote a set of fifteen novels in 1929 based in Yoknapatawpha County, a fictional region of Mississippi, he then wrote “The Sound and the Fury” which many consider to be Faulkner’s first masterwork in 1929. After a few more novels, Faulkner then wrote “As I Lay Dying” in 1930 which only took six weeks and is consistently ranked among the best novels of the 20th century in literature. By 1945 Faulkner’s novels were out of print so he then moved to Hollywood to write movie scripts. As his career in writing began to fall, in 1946 Faulkner began his second period of success with “The Portable Faulkner”. But after many years of hard drinking his physique and mental state seemed to begin to weaken the great author. "When I have one martini I feel bigger, wiser, taller," he confessed. "When I have a second I feel superlative. After that there's no holding me." Besides problems with alcohol his wife's drug addiction and declining health shadowed his life. "I will always believe that my first responsibility is to the artist, the work," he wrote in a letter; "it is terrible that my wife does not realize or at least accept that" (Liukkonen). In 1962 after being thrown from a horse, Faulkner died of a coronary occlusion on July 6th of 1962.
Liukkonen, Petri. “William (Cuthbert) Faulkner (1897-1962).” Books and Writers. 2008. March 25, 2010 .
“A Rose for Emily” is William Faulkner’s most famous short story and was his first story to be accepted and published by a national magazine in 1930. The five-part, short story “A Rose for Emily” is a gothic tale creating a gloomy, doom-like atmosphere in which an old woman completely shuts out the outside world, living in a decaying mansion with one of the floors closed. The story begins with the death and funeral of Miss Emily Grierson. “When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant--a combined gardener and cook--had seen in at least ten years” (Faulkner 221). Emily is seen buying arsenic from the druggist and later her boyfriend, Homer Barron disappeared, being last seen entering Emily’s home. After Homer’s disappearance, Emily begins to age, gain weight, and is rarely ever seen outside of her mansion. Emily passes away and after the funeral the townspeople enter Emily’s home being curious of the interior of the grand mansion. In a room on the second floor which has not been seen in forty years were the remains of Homer and next to him a long strand of iron-gray hair representing the murder of Homer by Emily (Faulkner 223).
Faulkner, William. Short Stories of William Faulkner: A Rose for Emily. New York, NY: The Modern Library, 2003.
Many of Faulkner's major works focus on rural lives which are based on his own personal southern upbringings. The town of Mottson is not a metropolis, but is the typical southern farming lifestyle. In “As I Lay Dying,” the humorous dark story of the poor white Bundren family travel from farm to town to bury the mother figure or female head of the family, Addie. Faulkner uses modernism to tell and explain the impact of the socio-cultural era called modernity which is the process of modernization and industrialization in the rural South (Hubbs 463). Faulkner makes it clear that rural modernism is not a geographic logic but a large sociopolitical importance. Rural modernism explains the conflation of the urbanization and the modernization by revealing how the country is used as a representation against which urban modernity is defined. The novel's engagement with rural life during the modern era in the south redefines the relationship of Faulkner's work to the literary and political aspects of the Depression-era, exposing the social import of rural obsolescence and even suggests the rethinking of modernism. Hubbs’ states, “Recognizing rural modernism brings Faulkner's works further into the fold of modernism writ large by explicating the ways in which ostensibly un- or even anti-modern textual elements--slow-moving wagons and sweating farmers--work in the service of the modern” (469).
Sources: Hubbs, Jolene. "William Faulkner's Rural Modernism." The Mississippi Quarterly 61.3 (Summer 2008): 461-475. Literature Resource Center. TCC Library, Ft. Worth, TX. June30, 2010.
William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, in 1897. In 1902 his family moved to Oxford, the seat of the University of Mississippi, where his father, Murray C. Falkner, ran a livery stable and a hardware store, and later was a business manager at the university. Faulker's mother was Maud Butle. There were four children: William Faulkner was a poor student and left highschool after the tenth grade for a job in his grandfather's bank. He read widely, and wrote poetry. He also tried his hand at painting. He was said to be a moody young man and a puzzle to the townspeople of Oxford. He was underweight and only five feet in height, Faulkner was turned down by down by the United States Army. He succeeded, however, in joining the Royal Flying in Toronto, Canada, as a cadet. On December22,1918, the date of demobilization, he became an honorary second lieutenant. Like most other writers of his age, Faulkner has often been preoccupied with both events and the implictions of World War I (O'conner). His early books deal with it, as does one of his later, A Fable
O'Conner, William Van. "William (Cuthbert) Faulkner." American Writers: A collection of Literary Biograohies. Ed Leonard Unger. Vol 2. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1974. Literature Resource Center. TCC Library. Ft. Worth, TX May 23, 2010.