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Faulkner: A Biography

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William Faulkner (1897-1962) remains the pre- eminent literary chronicler of the American South and a giant of American arts and letters. Creatively obsessed with problems of race, identity, power, politics, and family dynamics, he wrote novels, stories, and lectures that continue to shape our understanding of the region's promises and problems. His experiments and inventi William Faulkner (1897-1962) remains the pre- eminent literary chronicler of the American South and a giant of American arts and letters. Creatively obsessed with problems of race, identity, power, politics, and family dynamics, he wrote novels, stories, and lectures that continue to shape our understanding of the region's promises and problems. His experiments and inventions in form and style have influenced generations of writers. Originally published in 1974 as a two-volume edition and extensively updated and condensed in a 1991 reissue, Joseph Blotner's Faulkner: A Biography remains the quintessential resource on the Nobel laureate's life and work. The Chicago Tribune said, "This is an overwhelming book, indispensable for anyone interested in the life and works of our greatest contemporary novelist." That invaluable 1991 edition is now back in print. Blotner, a friend and one-time colleague of Faulkner's, brings a vivid, personalized tone to the biography, as well as a sense of masterful, comprehensive scholarship. Using letters, inter-views, reminiscences, critical work, and other primary sources, Blotner creates a detailed and nuanced portrait of Faulkner from his birth to his death. The revision of the original 1974 biography incorporates commentary on the plethora of Faulkner criticism, family memoirs, and posthumously published works that appeared in the wake of the first version. It also examines collections of letters and other materials that only came to light after the original publication. Featuring a detailed chronology of Faulkner's life and a genealogical chart of his family, Faulkner is authoritative and essential both for literary scholars and for anyone wanting to know about the life of one of the nation's foremost authors. Blotner's masterpiece is the template for all biographical work on the acclaimed writer. Joseph Blotner, Charlottesville, Virginia, is professor emeritus of English at University of Michigan and the author of several books, including Robert Penn Warren: A Biography, The Modern American Political Novel, and The Fiction of J. D. Salinger. His work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Yale Review, American Literature, and else-where.


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William Faulkner (1897-1962) remains the pre- eminent literary chronicler of the American South and a giant of American arts and letters. Creatively obsessed with problems of race, identity, power, politics, and family dynamics, he wrote novels, stories, and lectures that continue to shape our understanding of the region's promises and problems. His experiments and inventi William Faulkner (1897-1962) remains the pre- eminent literary chronicler of the American South and a giant of American arts and letters. Creatively obsessed with problems of race, identity, power, politics, and family dynamics, he wrote novels, stories, and lectures that continue to shape our understanding of the region's promises and problems. His experiments and inventions in form and style have influenced generations of writers. Originally published in 1974 as a two-volume edition and extensively updated and condensed in a 1991 reissue, Joseph Blotner's Faulkner: A Biography remains the quintessential resource on the Nobel laureate's life and work. The Chicago Tribune said, "This is an overwhelming book, indispensable for anyone interested in the life and works of our greatest contemporary novelist." That invaluable 1991 edition is now back in print. Blotner, a friend and one-time colleague of Faulkner's, brings a vivid, personalized tone to the biography, as well as a sense of masterful, comprehensive scholarship. Using letters, inter-views, reminiscences, critical work, and other primary sources, Blotner creates a detailed and nuanced portrait of Faulkner from his birth to his death. The revision of the original 1974 biography incorporates commentary on the plethora of Faulkner criticism, family memoirs, and posthumously published works that appeared in the wake of the first version. It also examines collections of letters and other materials that only came to light after the original publication. Featuring a detailed chronology of Faulkner's life and a genealogical chart of his family, Faulkner is authoritative and essential both for literary scholars and for anyone wanting to know about the life of one of the nation's foremost authors. Blotner's masterpiece is the template for all biographical work on the acclaimed writer. Joseph Blotner, Charlottesville, Virginia, is professor emeritus of English at University of Michigan and the author of several books, including Robert Penn Warren: A Biography, The Modern American Political Novel, and The Fiction of J. D. Salinger. His work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Yale Review, American Literature, and else-where.

30 review for Faulkner: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    J. Alfred

    Reader, would you like to know everything that ever happened to William Faulkner? If you do, BE WARNED. THIS IS NOT THE BOOK FOR YOU. That book is the original two volume set of the present condensed version. This one cuts things down to an essential 700+ pages. While the details are a little exhausting for the most thorough fan of Faulkner's, the writing is strong and with flashes of brilliance. The author himself shows up near the end of the story and is engagingly referred to in the third per Reader, would you like to know everything that ever happened to William Faulkner? If you do, BE WARNED. THIS IS NOT THE BOOK FOR YOU. That book is the original two volume set of the present condensed version. This one cuts things down to an essential 700+ pages. While the details are a little exhausting for the most thorough fan of Faulkner's, the writing is strong and with flashes of brilliance. The author himself shows up near the end of the story and is engagingly referred to in the third person. Once, he is shyly referred to as a "friend." This is a remarkable brick of scholarship. It's very much the standard in the field, and for good reason.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carl Rollyson

    Faulkner biography begins with Joseph Blotner. Faulkner biography truly begins with Blotner. Every Faulkner biographer, including me, is deeply in his debt. He had the virtue of befriending Faulkner, and if Blotner also became a keeper of certain Faulkner family secrets, he nevertheless spread out the territory for his fellow biographers to explore.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nelson

    At nearly 2000 pages, this is everything and the kitchen sink biography. Blotner's life starts a couple of generations back and stops with Faulkner's funeral, at which he was one of the pallbearers. That fact ought to indicate both some of the virtues as well as the defects of the work. Blotner met Faulkner when he came to be an author in residence at Virginia, where Blotner was then a junior member of the English department. Blotner and his wife came to be close personal friends of the Faulkner At nearly 2000 pages, this is everything and the kitchen sink biography. Blotner's life starts a couple of generations back and stops with Faulkner's funeral, at which he was one of the pallbearers. That fact ought to indicate both some of the virtues as well as the defects of the work. Blotner met Faulkner when he came to be an author in residence at Virginia, where Blotner was then a junior member of the English department. Blotner and his wife came to be close personal friends of the Faulkners over a period of some five or so years. It seems that Blotner was given privileged access in some ways to this most private of authors. The biography that results is unparalleled in some of its fine-grained details. Indeed, it's a little too fine-grained, frankly, getting into some incredible minutiae at times. And there are the occasional anecdotes repeated in widely separated chapters. Blotner seemed too wary, however, for Faulkner's reputation in some ways. While he doesn't wink at the drinking and is especially even-handed with Faulkner's evolving thoughts on race issues, Blotner goes out of his way to paint a gentlemanly gloss on Faulkner's numerous and, in some cases, longstanding, extramarital affairs, which is to say, he almost completely ignores them. Perhaps a discreet veil can be drawn over some of them (the extended liaison with Howard Hawks' 'scriptgirl' Meta Carpenter for instance); others, such as the affair with the novelist Joan Williams, seem inextricably tied to a period of Faulkner's writing life. Blotner doesn't really do interested students of the writing many favors when he soft pedals some of this material. Surely some of the lengthy explanations of tiny financial wranglings could have made way for at least a nominal treatment of the more important of these relationships (Else Johnson and Jean Stein, for instance). The life also offers extended summaries not only of the completed works (all of them) but their stages of formation as well. In other words, this life has rightly served as the starting point for most nuanced considerations of the work or the man, though more incisive commentaries will naturally omit much that Blotner focuses on here, and pick up and discuss much that he omits. Important for Faulkner scholars but casual interest in the life is better served by several later, shorter biographies.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    "...having known twice before the agony of ink, nothing served but that I try by main strength to recreate between the covers of a book the world as I was already preparing to lose and regret, feeling, with the morbidity of the young, that I was not only on the verge of decrepitude, but that growing old was to be an experience peculiar to myself alone out of all the teeming world...So I began to write, without much purpose, until I realised that to make it truly evocative it must be personal...C "...having known twice before the agony of ink, nothing served but that I try by main strength to recreate between the covers of a book the world as I was already preparing to lose and regret, feeling, with the morbidity of the young, that I was not only on the verge of decrepitude, but that growing old was to be an experience peculiar to myself alone out of all the teeming world...So I began to write, without much purpose, until I realised that to make it truly evocative it must be personal...Created, I say, because they are composed partly from what they were in actual life and partly from what they should have been and were not: thus I improved on God, who, dramatic though he He be, has no sense, no feeling, for theatre." "And more than that, think what a devil of a fix you and I'd be in were it not for words, were we to lose out faith in words. I'd have nothing to do all day long, and you'd have to work or starve to death." -Not recommended for Faulkner beginners, as it covers a broad base consisting of every novel and most of his short stories, which may be difficult to follow for some and certainly spoilertastic for all. If you've run out of Faulkner and want another dash of his particular magic then this comes highly recommended.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brian Willis

    A completely detailed and likely the most complete biography of the great writer, I still yearned for some stylistic flourishes. This book can be a chore to read. In fact, the style is that of the tedious, linear, almost Victorian books of which Faulkner spent his entire career breaking the mould. However, if what you are looking for is a complete detailing of the man's life, including some of his various sins, including his hopeless alcoholism, as well as how the ideas for his many books develo A completely detailed and likely the most complete biography of the great writer, I still yearned for some stylistic flourishes. This book can be a chore to read. In fact, the style is that of the tedious, linear, almost Victorian books of which Faulkner spent his entire career breaking the mould. However, if what you are looking for is a complete detailing of the man's life, including some of his various sins, including his hopeless alcoholism, as well as how the ideas for his many books developed into works of art, this is probably essential for you. There are probably more penetrating and stylish books on Faulkner, but probably few as complete as Blotner's still authoritative massive biography.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    This book surprised me in how fascinating it was; I discriminate against dense nonfiction, but this was compelling. Perhaps, however, that is because I am a Faulkner fan: do NOT attempt this book if you are remotely lukewarm towards the writer. It took me a solid year, with ample breaks, to get through it. The author treats his own role in Faulkner's life in the third person, which I found unsettling.

  7. 5 out of 5

    wally

    i read a few biographies of faulkner in, 78, 79. don't believe i read anything about him that raised an eyebrow...though i believe--i recall--that he, like many men, strayed, though if you're looking for pics of grown-ups nakkid, it's not here. thought it was funny, when he was writing for hollywood, he asked if he could write at home...they said yes, sure...so, he went home...to mississippi. HA HA HA HA!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Roger Carrlllo

    If you want to understand William Faulkner and his writings then this book is a must read. Scholarly, thorough, and gives a sympathetic but realistic picture of Faulkner's life and the milieu in which he became one of the world's foremost authors. Gives context and perspective to the complexity of Faulkner's writing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robert Schwab

    This was interesting at times, ponderous at others, nearly as difficult as trying to read Faulkner's novels. Still, I learned a lot about him, much of which was not overly flattering. Smarter people than I have called him a genius, so I guess it's true, but to me, there are those who write to be read, and those who write to be writers, and he seems to be the latter.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Kennedy

    I enjoyed this biography of William Faulkner very much. It's mostly quite objective, though the description of Faulkner's final days and of his funeral have the drama of fiction. A must-read for anyone interested in Modern American fiction. http://sarahkennedybooks.wordpress.com I enjoyed this biography of William Faulkner very much. It's mostly quite objective, though the description of Faulkner's final days and of his funeral have the drama of fiction. A must-read for anyone interested in Modern American fiction. http://sarahkennedybooks.wordpress.com

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brent

    I read Volume Two of the original hardcover edition, appreciatively.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nicole G.

    Apparently

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tejas Desai

    Greatest, most thorough biography of a writer I know.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Richard Epstein

    Magisterial. Tedious beyond endurance. Authoritative. A better doorstep than book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    ACRL

    Read by ACRL Member of the Week Callie Wiygul Branstiter. Learn more about Callie on the ACRL Insider Blog. Read by ACRL Member of the Week Callie Wiygul Branstiter. Learn more about Callie on the ACRL Insider Blog.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Graffeo

  17. 4 out of 5

    Abe

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nick

  20. 4 out of 5

    J.R. Parks

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cheri Edwards

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jay Bowling

  23. 4 out of 5

    David

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hamada Kassam

  26. 5 out of 5

    Angela Carbone

  27. 5 out of 5

    Noteeth

  28. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  29. 5 out of 5

    John Woodward

  30. 4 out of 5

    Traci

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