Myself and the World: A Biography of William Faulkner

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9781496805607: Myself and the World: A Biography of William Faulkner
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William Faulkner (1897-1962) once said of his novels and stories, "I am telling the same story over and over, which is myself and the world." This biography provides an overview of the life and career of the famous author, demonstrating the interrelationships of that life, centered in Oxford, Mississippi, with the characters and events of his fictional world. The book begins with a chapter on Faulkner's most famous ancestor, W. C. Falkner, "the Old Colonel," who greatly influenced both the content and the form of Faulkner's fiction. Robert W. Hamblin then proceeds to examine the highlights of Faulkner's biography, from his childhood to his youthful days as a fledgling poet, through his time in New Orleans, the creation of Yoknapatawpha, the years of struggle and his season of prolific genius, and through his time in Hollywood and his winning of the Nobel Prize. The book concludes with a description of his last years as a revered author, cultural ambassador, and university writer-in-residence.

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Faulkner spoke of "the agony and sweat of the human spirit" that goes into artistic creation. For Faulkner, that struggle was especially acute. Poor and neglected for much of his life, suffering from chronic depression and alcoholism, and unhappy in his personal life, Faulkner overcame tremendous obstacles to achieve literary success. One of the major themes of his novels and stories remains endurance, and his biography exhibits that quality in abundance. Faulkner the man endured and ultimately prevailed.

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About the Author:

Robert W. Hamblin, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, is professor emeritus of English and the founding director of the Center for Faulkner Studies at Southeast Missouri State University. A native of northeast Mississippi, he completed advanced degrees at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Faulkner's hometown. He has directed Faulkner seminars for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Missouri Humanities Council and has lectured on Faulkner in Europe and Asia, as well as throughout the United States. He has coedited seventeen books on William Faulkner, including A William Faulkner Encyclopedia and A Companion to Faulkner Studies.

Review:

"Faulkner remains a mysterious individual to many current readers. He was a singularly private person, and his previous biographers have sometimes addressed this problem by providing overwhelming detail. In Myself and the World, Professor Hamblin brings us a clear, responsible, and useful account of William Faulkner's life, showing his long apprenticeship, his brilliant breakthrough into both the Yoknapatawpha saga and high modernism, and his sustained achievements throughout his myriad career. Hamblin sees Faulkner steadily and whole."

--James B. Carothers, coeditor of Reading Faulkner: Collected Stories



"Myself and the World: A Biography of William Faulkner is that rare example of scholarship that has been deliberately designed to appeal to first readers of Faulkner. Hamblin, an old hand in the Faulkner industry, as he terms it, writes fresh and crisp prose, grounding readers in the life of a writer often called difficult and yet by means of this biographer's sure grasp, now accessible and engaging, fulfilling Dr. Johnson's hope for biography--that it should illuminate the work of the writer who suffered and prevailed."

--Carl Rollyson, author of Uses of the Past in the Novels of William Faulkner; Susan Sontag: The Making of an Icon, Revised and Updated; Confessions of a Serial Biographer; and several other biographies and works of criticism



"This biography is a clear-eyed account of the writer and his works. Although written out of admiration for the extraordinary genius of the Nobel-prize winning writer, Hamblin does not shy away from less-than-laudable aspects of Faulkner's personality and behavior. Readers will see that much deserved admiration for the work and the craft does not stand in the way of judicious and fair appraisal of the whole life and personality."

--Charles A. Peek, coeditor of A William Faulkner Encyclopedia and A Companion to Faulkner Studies

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