March 1, 2017
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v2.1 Reference

William Faulkner

A Life through Novels

Writing to American poet Malcolm Cowley in 1949, William Faulkner expressed his wish to be known only through his books. He would go on to win the Nobel Prize for literature several months later, and when he died famous in 1962, his biographers immediately began to unveil and dissect the unhappy life of "the little man from Mississippi." Despite the many works published about Faulkner, his life and career, it still remains a mystery how a poet of minor symbolist poems rooted in the history of the Deep South became one of the greatest novelists of the twentieth century. Here, renowned critic André Bleikasten revisits Faulkner's biography through the author's literary imagination. Weaving together correspondence and archival research with the graceful literary analysis for which he is known, Bleikasten presents a multi-strand account of Faulkner's life in writing. By carefully keeping both the biographical and imaginative lives in hand, Bleikasten teases out threads that carry the reader through the major events in Faulkner's life, emphasizing those circumstances that mattered most to his writing: the weight of his multi-generational family history in the South; the formation of his oppositional temperament provoked by a resistance to Southern bourgeois propriety; his creative and sexual restlessness and uncertainty; his lifelong struggle with finances and alcohol; his paradoxical escape to the bondages of Hollywood; and his final bent toward self-destruction. This is the story of the man who wrote timeless works and lived in and through his novels.

About the Authors

André Bleikasten (1933–2009) was Professor of American Literature at the University of Strasbourg, France and a prominent Faulkner scholar, internationally acclaimed for his study of Faulkner's early works in The Ink of Melancholy. He is also known for his studies of Philip Roth, Eudora Welty, and Flannery O'Connor.


"Bleikasten scants none of the life but is interested above all in the books."—New York Review of Books

"Few critics have written as magisterially about Faulkner's work as Bleikasten . . . this book monumentalizes a way of reading Faulkner to which all students and enthusiasts of his work continue to return with profit."—John T. Matthews, editor of The New Cambridge Companion to William Faulkner

"Bleikasten's book is the rarest of achievements: a meticulous literary analysis of Faulkner's body of work, resting comfortably in a wide-ranging description of his life and times, written in accessible, fluid, and engaging prose. It offers what may well be our fullest account to date of what Bleikasten calls Faulkner's 'energy for life' and 'will to write,' which together drove the destiny of one of the world's greatest writers."—Theresa Towner, author of The Cambridge Introduction to William Faulkner
Indiana University Press

9780253022844 : william-faulkner-bleikasten-bleikasten
552 Pages
$50.00 USD

Other Titles by André Bleikasten

The Ink of Melancholy

André Bleikasten
Oct 2016 - Indiana University Press
$40.00 USD - Paperback / softback
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