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The Life of William Faulkner: A Critical Biography

The Life of William Faulkner: A Critical Biography

Richard Gray

ISBN: 978-0-631-20316-2

Sep 1996, Wiley-Blackwell

484 pages

Select type: Paperback

In Stock



In this major reassessment, now available in paperback, Richard Gray uses and develops recent theories about the relationship between writing and historical experience, language and social change, to draw a brilliantly detailed portrait of the place and times Faulkner inhabited. Attending closely to each of the novels, Gray shows how they brim with an often undisclosed biography that is at once personal and cultural.


1 Fictions of History: An Approach to Faulkner.

I. On Privacy: Faulkner and the Human Subject.

II. History as Autobiography: The World of Faulkner.

III. Autobiography as History: The Life of Faulkner.

2 Faulkner the Apprentice.

I. Trying Out Different Voices: The Early Prose and Poetry.

II. Of Loss and Longing: Soldier's Pay and Mosquitoes.

3 Rewriting the Homeplace.

I. Ancestor Worship, Patricide, and the Epic Past: Flags in the Dust and Sartoris.

II. Voices, Absence, and Cultural Autobiography: The Sound of the Fury.

III. A Southern Carnival: As I Lay Dying.

IX. And Woman Was Invented: Sanctuary.

4 Of Past and Present Conflicts.

I. Language, Power, and the Verbal Community: Light in August.

II. The Virile Pilot and the Seductions of the Aitr: Pylon.

III. History is What Hurts; Absalom, Absalom!.

IV. The Plantation Romance and the Madwoman in the Attic: The Unvanquished.

5 Public Faces and Private Places.

I. Now About These Women: The Wild Palms.

II. Let's Make A Deal: The Hamlet.

III. Things Fall Apart: Go Down, Moses.

IV. Watching the Detectives: Intruder in the Dust.

6 The Way Home.

I. Finished and Unfinished Business: Knight's Gambit and Requiem for a Nun.

II. Of Crowds, Control, and Courage: A Fable.

III. Distant Voice, Desperate Lives: The Towns.

IV. Then the Letting Go: The Mansion. Postscript: Back To Earth.

Poatscript: Back to Earth.

I The Romance of the Family: The Reivers.

II. 'I was Here' Faulkner Family Tree.

Faulkner Family Tress.

I The Faulkners.

II. Faulkner's Wife.

III. 'The Old Colonel's' Second Wife and Family.

IV. Faulkner's Mother.





"Richard Gray's study of Faulkner is biographically and historically informative in the most appropriate way; it is also critically sophisticated, lucid, and continuously accessible. Avoiding the usual biographical reductionism which subsumes a writer's work to its psychological or sociological context, Gray traces the inter-relationships between the man, the time, the place, and the writing, with exemplary and illuminating tact and insight. Frankly, I do not see how it could be better done; and, to anyone embarking on any kind of study of Faulkner, this is the first book I would recommend." Professor Tony Tanner, University of Cambridge

"... much more than a level-headed biography, it's a profound and beautifully written interpretation of Faulkner and his work. Gray combines formidable knowledge of Southern literature, culture, and history with wide-ranging critical expertise, giving us a work that is both thoroughly grounded in Faulkner's world and richly provocative in its interpretation of that world. Few writers on Southern literature possess Gray's breadth of knowledge and depth of insight. The Life of William Faulkner goes far to solidify Gray's position as one of the premiere critics in the field." Professor Robert H. Brinkmeyer, Jr, University of Mississippi

"The critical discussions are the strength of this volume, especially the commentaries on the novels written from 1929 to 1935. Recommended." T. Bonner, Jr. Xavier University of Louisiana, Choice

"... the book exhibits some expository strengths, such as in illustrating how the economic history of the South, specifically the dominance of cotton and the sharecropping system, connects to the motifs in his fiction." Virginia Quarterly Review

  • Major reassessment of the fiction in relation to the life
  • Exhaustive coverage of Faulkner's writings
  • Features an original exploration of Faulkner's controversial position on race.