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Faulkner Conference to examine "Faulkner and War"

Note: The following article by Dr. Donald Kartiganer originally appeared in The Southern Register, a newsletter produced by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi.

There were three wars at work in the mind of William — Faulkner: the American Civil War, World War I, and World War II. He did not fight in any of them  although for years he passed himself off as a veteran RAF fighter pilot in World War I — and yet they are all there, in novels, short stories, essays, and letters. The aim of "Faulkner and War" (July 22-27, 2001) is to explore the role that war played in the life and work of a writer whose career seems forever poised against a backdrop of wars going on or recently ended or in the volatile years between — or, perhaps most significant of all, the backdrop of that war that ended thirty-two years before he was born.

Three scholars appearing at the conference for the first time will be John Limon, of Williams College; John Lowe, of Louisiana State University; and Nicole Moulinoux, of the University of Rennes.  Professor Limon, author of Writing After War: American War Fiction from Realism to Postmodernism and Stand-Up Comedy in Theory, Or, Abjection in America, will discuss Faulkner’s attempt to show how much of the sense of reality that the Great War produced could be rendered in fiction without explicit reference to it, as, for example, in one novel seemingly remote from the war, As I Lay Dying.  Professor Lowe, author of Jump at the Sun: Zora Neale Hurston's Cosmic Comedy and coeditor of The Future of Southern Letters, focuses on biographical and textual fraternal rivalry in Faulkner as a metaphor for war, history, and American finance capitalism.  Professor Moulinoux is Founder and President of the William Faulkner Foundation, France, inaugurated in 1994.  She is editor-in-chief of three volumes of Faulkner criticism, has done translations of Faulkner, Henry James, and the poet Yusef Komunyakaa, and written a number of critical essays on Faulkner.

In addition to the formal lectures, The Rivendell Theatre Ensemble of Chicago will present a play, Faulkner’s Bicycle. Praised by the Chicago Sun-Times as "one of those small, perfect pieces of stage magic that typify the glories of Chicago theater," the play concerns a fictional family in Oxford in 1962, which finds itself intimately involved with the famous writer a few months before his death.

Returning to the conference will be Don Doyle, of Vanderbilt University, author of New Men, New Cities, New South: Atlanta, Nashville, Charleston, Mobile, 1860-1910 and, most recently, Faulkner’s  County: The Historical Roots of Yoknapatawpha, 1540-1962, who will be discussing the Civil War in terms of how it was experienced in Lafayette County, whose history plays such a large role in Faulkner’s apocryphal Yoknapatawpha. Löthar Honnighausen, Director of the North American Program of the University of Bonn and author of William Faulkner: The Art of Stylization and William Faulkner: Masks and Metaphors, will take up the question of Faulkner’s evolving ideological attitudes toward war in Soldiers' Pay, A Fable, and The Mansion.

David Madden, of Louisiana State University, author of over a dozen works of fiction and criticism, including The Suicide's Wife, and Founding Director of the United States Civil War
Center, will address Absalom, Absalom! as a Civil War novel, "even though," as he writes, "it is more alluded to than dramatized, but life in the South led up to it, was profoundly traumatized by it and, more emphatically, by Reconstruction, and it permeated in myriad ways Faulkner-Quentin's life."

Also returning to the conference will be Noel Polk, of the University of Southern Mississippi, author or editor of over a dozen volumes, including most recently Outside the Southern Myth, Children of the Dark House, and Reading Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury, who will speak on A Fable; and James Watson, University of Tulsa, author or editor of four volumes on Faulkner, including most recently William Faulkner, Self Presentation and Performance.

Other program events will include discussions by Faulkner friends and family; sessions on "Teaching Faulkner" directed by James Carothers, University of Kansas, Robert Hamblin, Southeast Missouri State University, Arlie Herron, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and Charles Peek, University of Nebraska at Kearney; guided tours of North Mississippi; and an exhibition of Faulkner books, manuscripts, photographs, and memorabilia at the University's John Davis Williams Library.

The Conference will begin on Sunday, July 22, with an exhibition of photographs at the University Museums entitled "River Walk," as well as two exhibits from the Museums collection relating to the theme of the conference, one of Civil War memorabilia and the other of World War I posters.  This will be followed by an afternoon program of dramatic readings from Faulkner and the announcement of the winners of the 12th Faux Faulkner Contest.  Other events will include a Sunday buffet supper served at the home of Dr. and Mrs. M.B. Howorth Jr., "Faulkner on the Fringe" — an "open-mike" evening at the Southside
Gallery — a picnic served at Faulkner’s home, Rowan Oak, on Wednesday, and a closing party Friday afternoon at the Gary home, in which Faulkner lived when he and his family moved to Oxford in 1902.

For more information about the conference contact the Institute for Continuing Studies, P.O. Box 879, The University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677-1848; telephone 662-915-7282; fax 662-915-5138, e-mail cstudies@olemiss.edu. Information on the conference as well as a printable registration form is also available online at the conference web site.

Donald M. Kartiganer
William Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies
Director of Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha

Licensing rights inquiries should be directed to exclusive representative of Faulkner’s literary estate

For anyone who wishes to license a Faulkner work for a stage or screen adaptation, or wishes to use Faulkner’s works for any other commercial endeavor, you should direct your inquiries to Lee Caplin, who has been commissioned by the Faulkner family to serve as the exclusive representative for the literary estate of William Faulkner. Anyone seeking licensing rights for Faulkner’s works should email Mr. Caplin at starium@pacbell.net.

Berner Books Faulkner catalog available online

Seth Berner, owner of Seth Berner Books in Maine and a perennial presence at Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha conferences in the past, has announced he won't be able to attend this year. He has, however, put his catalog of rare and hard-to-find Faulkner materials online. Ranging from books to periodicals to Faulkner miscellany (screenplays, movie posters, etc.), and even to Southern materials not directly related to Faulkner, Berner's collection includes a diversity of  items that should interest collectors of Faulkner memorabilia.

Browse through the catalog at home.maine.rr.com/sberner/catalog.html, or email Berner at sberner@maine.rr.com.

New Coen brothers film set in Mississippi alludes to Faulkner
Licensing rights inquiries should go to exclusive representative for Faulkner’s literary estate
Berner Books Faulkner catalog available online
Alert to Instructors: Faulkner essays for sale on Internet
New Faulkner Books
Faulkner on the Internet

View the most recent announcements on the main page. Past announcements also are available. Check The Carriage House for other Faulkner web sites and other sites of interest from around the world. If you know of any Faulkner-related news item, please let me know

New Coen Brothers film set in Mississippi alludes to Faulkner

Remaining true to a form they've established in other films, O Brother, Where Art Thou, the latest motion picture by Joel and Ethan Coen, features several sly allusions to William Faulkner. Not least of these is the fact of the film's setting: rural Mississippi, circa 1937.

"Based," as an opening credit prominently announces, on Homer's The Odyssey, the film follows the madcap journey of three fugitives from a Mississippi chain gang led by Everett Ulysses McGill (played by George Clooney). Along the way, they encounter a number of mythological beings, including a blind soothsayer, a Cyclops, and three Sirens by a riverside.

Other prominent allusions in the film are in the form of characters Tommy Johnson (patterned after the great Delta blues musician Robert Johnson) who gained his talent by selling his soul to the devil, and notorious bank robber George "Baby Face" Nelson. The film often recalls the spirit of Flannery O'Connor, not only in its comic grotesquerie throughout but also in the specific machinations of a less-than-gracious traveling Bible salesman (played by John Goodman).

The most overt Faulkner reference in the film is the character Vernon T. Waldrip, who in the film is to marry Penelope (Holly Hunter), Everett's wife. In Faulkner’s fiction, Vernon Waldrip appears in the "Old Man" section of If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem as the man who married the Convict's former sweetheart.

There are other reverberations from "Old Man" as well in the film, including the convicts themselves, the cotton house (on which the convicts in the film are told they will see a cow), and a flooding river.

Then too, of course, is the Depression-era Mississippi itself, a landscape continually portrayed in the film — thanks to digital retouching during post-production — in amber hues, as if it were a golden memory ... or a fading photograph.

Faulkner references in earlier Coen brothers' films include characters named "Mink" (Miller's Crossing, 1990), "Snopes" (the escaped convicts in Raising Arizona, 1987) and especially, the Bill Mayhew character in Barton Fink. Mayhew was a Southern novelist working as a screenwriter in Hollywood and carrying on an affair with his secretary. The role was played by John Mahoney, who bears a striking resemblance to Faulkner.

Selected Reviews:

Alert to instructors: Faulkner essays for sale online

Teachers of Faulkner at all levels should be aware of a web site that purports to "help" students of Faulkner by way of "example."

The site, www.william-faulkner.com, bills itself as (sic) "THE ultimate source of assistance!"

"The works of William Faulkner are drenched with the ambiance of the South," reads an introductory statement on the web site. "No one reading his works would place him anywhere else; and yet he ably conveys the fact that there is not merely one Southern culture, but many, all of which are woven together to produce the rich and distinctive tapestry that is Southern life.

"But just as William Faulkner’s "A Rose For Emily" has touched the hearts of so many, it has also confused the intellect of students everywhere. William-Faulkner.Com seeks to end the academic frustration felt by those same students through the provision of examples of critical essays and papers on all of Faulkner’s classics."

Though the web site's producers proclaim it their "philosophy" that "students learn best by way of example" (emphasis theirs), the site appears to be nothing more than a term paper mill, selling papers on a number of pre-written topics on Faulkner and even allowing students to order papers written especially for their given assignments. As the introductory message on the web site states, it "provides dozens of tutorial essays to spark ideas and to provide a source of citable information to students struggling to find information and/or a sense of motivation to write about this classic American author."

At the moment, more than 70 Faulkner-related essays are listed for sale on the site, at a cost of $9.85 per page (plus a "free" works cited page). A sample of topics and their page length are as follows:

  • Compare/Contrast Style And Tone In William Faulkner’s 'Barn Burning' And Flannery O'Connor's 'A Good Man Is Hard To Find' (5 pages)

  • The Use Of Place, Atmosphere And Mood In William Faulkner’s 'Barn Burning' And D.H. Lawrence's 'The Horse Dealer's Daughter' (5 pages)

  • William Faulkner’s 'Barn Burning' / Point-Of-View (5 pages)

  • William Faulkner’s 'A Rose for Emily' / Comparing Two Critical Sources (4 pages)

  • William Faulkner’s 'The Reivers' / Bildungsroman (5 pages)

  • Behavior of Middle-or Upper-Class Southern Women Miss Rosa, Mrs. Compson, and Miss Quentin in William Faulkner’s "Absalom, Absalom! and "The Sound & the Fury" (5 pages)

  • William Faulkner’s "A Rose for Emily"/ Treatment Of Women (3 pages)

Instructors who feel their students may have improperly used this online "service" may wish to consult the full list of essay topics, presently located here. Included with each topic is a brief summary of the essay, and the site also offers free excerpts available on request.

Recently Published Books on Faulkner
Click on the ISBN Numbers to purchase these books from

Paperback editionFaulkner at 100: Retrospect and Prospect  
Edited by Donald M. Kartiganer and Ann J. Abadie.
Proceedings from the 1997 (Centennial) Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference.
(Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2000.)
Hardcover, ISBN: 1578062888
Paperback, ISBN: 1578062896

Hardcover editionFaulkner on the Color Line: The Later Novels
By Theresa M. Towner.
(Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2000)
Hardcover, ISBN: 1578062497

Literary Masterpieces: The Sound and the Fury
By Thomas L. McHaney
(Literary Masterpieces, Vol. 6)
(Detroit: Gale Group, 2000)
Hardcover, ISBN: 0787644722

Faulkner’s County: The Historical Roots of Yoknapatawpha, 1540-1962
By Don Harrison Doyle
Fred W. Morrison Series in Southern Studies
(Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2001)
Hardcover, ISBN: 0807826154
Paperback, ISBN: 0807849316

A Rose for Emily
Edited by Noel Polk
The Harcourt Brace Casebook Series in Literature
(Fort Worth: Harcourt, 2000)
Paperback, ISBN: 0155074717

Paperback editionPostslavery Literatures in the Americas: Family Portraits in Black and White
By George B. Handley
(Charlottesville: U
P of Virginia, 2000)
Hardcover, ISBN: 0813919762
Paperback, ISBN:

Paperback editionThe Modern Androgyne Imagination: A Failed Sublime
By Lisa Rado
(Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 2000)
Hardcover, ISBN: 0813919797
Paperback, ISBN: 0813919800

Obscurity's Myriad Components: The Theory and Practice of William Faulkner (forthcoming)
By R. Rio-Jelliffe
(Lewisburg, Penn.: Bucknell University Press, 2001)
Hardcover, ISBN: 0838754627

Faulkner’s Questioning Narratives: The Fiction of His Major Phase, 1929-42 (forthcoming)
By David L. Minter
(Urbana: U of Illinois P, 2001)
Hardcover, ISBN: 0252026640

Paperback editionWilliam Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying
Edited by Nicolas Tredell
(Columbia Critical Guides)
(New York: Columbia UP, 2000)
Hardcover, ISBN: 0231121881
Paperback, ISBN: 023112189X

Faulkner and the Modern Fable 
By Kiyoko Toyama
(Lanham, MD: International Scholarship Publications, 2001)
Hardcover, ISBN: 157309417X

Hardcover editionTeaching Faulkner: Approaches and Methods
Edited by Stephen Hahn and Robert W. Hamblin
Contributions to the Study of American Literature No. 9
(Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 2001.)
Hardcover, ISBN: 0313315906

Struggles over the Word:
ace and Religion in O'Connor, Faulkner, Hurston, and Wright
By Timothy P. Caron
(Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press
, 2000)
Hardcover, ISBN: 086554669X

Paperback editionWilliam Faulkner A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work (forthcoming)
By A. Nicholas Fargnoli and  Michael Golay
(New York: Checkmark Books, 2001.)
Hardcover, ISBN: 0816038600
Paperback, ISBN: 0816041598

Faulkner on the Internet
Selected Sites of Interest

"Traditional and Modern Values in the Works of William Faulkner," by Anna Carnick. Copyright (c) 1997, Brighton High School English Department

"William Faulkner (1897-1962)."  From the Instructor's Guide for The Heath Anthology of American Literature (3rd ed.) 

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