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William Faulkner: Translating His Life Into His Works

1933 words - 8 pages

Humankind through years of evolution has become a glorious race with an inexhaustible capacity to think. Each mind is filled with a profusion of ideas and other abstractions, which are sought to be expressed. Often, people find their medium of expression through art. Jean de La Fontaine, a renowned French fabulist begins his poem, The Hornets and the Bees with the line: “by the work one knows the workman” (The Hornets). If art is a method of self-expression, the creator, is thus, significant. In essence, art as the reflection of a being is inseparable from the being. To examine a masterpiece, the creator must be investigated, too.
In 1917, the United States aided the Triple Entente during the First World War. Faulkner enlisted for the Armed Signal Corps from which he was rejected for his height and frailty (Leary +). Despite his rejection, Faulkner was undeterred. With a British accent, a borrowed England address, and an added “u” to his name, he went to a recruiting office in New York, and enlisted for the Royal Air Force in Canada. Faulkner was accepted, and was ordered to report for Toronto immediately. Although, his efforts were successful, he set himself up for disappointment, for the war ended in 1918 without him having set foot in any battle. When he returned to Oxford a month later, however, he was outfitted in a British uniform paired with a swagger stick to support his injured legs. Early on, he said his injury was a result from a crash during training. Later, the injury would be of several various other causes (Parini 39-47). Although his lies mortified him for the rest of his life, Faulkner illustrated how he was inherently a storyteller, and his tales were his masterpieces. Through that incident he showed how concocting stories was his craft, and his fiction were superior results of his creative mind. Since Faulkner was an artist, and his stories were his pieces, examining his life would be crucial to further appreciate his works. For Faulkner, his inspirations were rooted, simply, in his hometown, his family, and his ideologies.
First, Faulkner’s hometown significantly influenced his works. David Minter, a professor of English at Rice University, asserts that “[m]ore than any other major American writer…Faulkner is associated with a region” (1). Indeed, a vast amount of Faulkner’s works, a few of which are Sartoris in 1929 and The Reivers in 1962 are set in the South. The semblances in the settings, however, do not merely end with the geography, for they also extend into the history of the place.
The most blatant semblance in Faulkner’s settings lies in the geography. In September 1897, Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi. His family, however, did not remain here for long. His grandfather relocated their family to Oxford, Mississippi. Eventually, Oxford became the place where Faulkner spent the majority of his life (Short Story Criticism). His hometown, Oxford, is the political center of Lafayette County, a...

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