Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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List of Illustrations

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p. ix

Abbreviations Used

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pp. xi-xii

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xvi

This book evolved from my work with Faulkner’s personal letters as well as his published writing and with relationships between the two that led to speculations on the question, How did he do that? I wanted to write about how he made the things he made and why he made them as he did. My speculative answer to those questions is, essentially, that he put him-...

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I. Self-Presentation and Performance

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pp. 1-16

Biography is a suppositious and essentially schematizing art based in the detailed reconstruction of a life. Criticism based on biography is no less speculative, no less given to schematics, and certainly no less seductive for the critic. From the outset readers and critics of William Faulkner’s fiction assumed that his work is based more or less in his own life and...

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II. Photographs, Letters, and Fictions

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pp. 17-69

In the photograph, taken in a Toronto studio in the autumn of 1918, he stands nearly erect, small against the chest-high painted marble railing and scratchy forest setting of the photographer’s backdrop [Fig. 1]. His military-issue tunic is unbelted, smock-like, and formless above vague breeches wound in leggings from knee to ankle and boots that make his splayed feet disproportionately large. ...

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III. Marriage Matters

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pp. 70-102

When Faulkner wrote the original Sanctuary in the winter and spring of 1929, he was preoccupied more intensely than ever before by marriage matters. Two years earlier Estelle had filed for divorce and returned permanently to Oxford from Shanghai, bringing with her her daughter Cho-Cho, then almost eight, and son Malcolm, three. She and Faulkner saw...

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IV. Who’s Your Old Man?

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pp. 103-135

Consonant with his reimagining himself and the world in his work, Faulkner fashioned his life under the guidance of other men, rejecting some as models and adopting others at need, usually temporarily. Probably there is justification in arguing, as Richard Gray and others before him have done, that “Faulkner never thought of his actual father as his father...

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V. Stage Manager

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pp. 136-171

Reflecting on the overall design of his fictional cosmos in 1955, Faulkner told Jean Stein, “I can move these people around like God, not only in space but in time too” (Lion, 255). That explicitly performative statement is implicit in much that preceded it. The figure of the artist as God had been in his mind at least since the preface to Sartoris a quarter of a cen-...

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VI. Old Moster

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pp. 172-208

Psalm 137 did more than provide Faulkner the original title of the memory book he wrote to stave off heartbreak: he found in it an expression of his relationship to the imaginative Jerusalem that is Yoknapatawpha County. If he privately felt himself still an exile in his Oxford home in 1938, he might yet, in the words of the psalmist, “sing the Lord’s song”...

Notes

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pp. 209-234

Works Cited

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pp. 235-243

Index

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pp. 245-255