Examinations of the many influences on the Nobel Laureate
Contributions by Susan V. Donaldson,
Lael Gold, Adam Gussow, Martin
Kreiswirth, Jay Parini, Noel Polk,
Judith L. Sensibar, Jon Smith, and
William Faulkner once said that the
writer "collects his material all his
life from everything he reads, from
everything he listens to, everything he
sees, and he stores that away in sort of
a filing cabinet . . . in my case it's not
anything near as neat as a filing case;
it's more like a junk box." Faulkner
tended to be quite casual about his
influences. For example, he referred
to the South as "not very important to me. I just happen to know
it, and don't have time in one life to learn another one and write at
the same time." His Christian background, according to him, was
simply another tool he might pick up on one of his visits to "the
lumber room" that would help him tell a story.
Sometimes he claimed he never read James Joyce's Ulysses
or had never heard of Thomas Mannówriters he would elsewhere
declare as "the two great men in my time." Sometimes he
expressed annoyance at readers who found esoteric theory in his
fiction, when all he wanted them to find was Faulkner: "I have
never read [Freud]. Neither did Shakespeare. I doubt if Melville
did either, and I'm sure Moby-Dick didn't."
Nevertheless, Faulkner's life was rich in what he did, saw,
and read, and he seems to have remembered all of it and put it to
use in his fiction. Faulkner's Inheritance is a collection of essays
that examines the influences on Faulkner's fiction, including his
own family history, Jim Crow laws, contemporary fashion, popular
culture, and literature.
Joseph R. Urgo is provost and vice chancellor for Academic
Affairs at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Ann J.
Abadie, Oxford, Mississippi, was associate director of the Center
for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi
and coeditor of numerous scholarly collections from the Faulkner
and Yoknapatawpha Conference.
192 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, introduction, index