William Faulkner died of a heart attack on this day in 1962. His health was weakened after a horse riding accident in 1959 and a lifelong drinking problem. One of the most important writers of American Southern literature, Faulkner was little known until he won the Nobel prize in 1949, despite having been published for decades already.
Faulkner is best known for his novels The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, Absalom, Absalom! and As I Lay Dying, the latter being possibly the most original novel ever produced by an American author. Few writers have created imaginary worlds so rich, complex and universal, yet so localized and regional. Faulkner’s works tend to center upon the sorrows of fathers and sons to the disadvantage of mothers and daughters. Feminist critics will find it difficult to admire Faulkner’s views on women, which lend to some dark and disturbing, but always brilliantly executed, undercurrents in his work.
Here is a personal favorite quote of Faulkner’s from a Paris Review interview, “You know that if I were reincarnated, I’d want to come back a buzzard. Nothing hates him or envies him or wants him or needs him. He is never bothered or in danger, and he can eat anything.” Perhaps, Faulkner is flying high among our feathered friends today.