From the beginning, William Faulkner’s art was consciously self-presenting. In writing of all kinds he created and "performed" a complex set of roles based in his life as he both lived and imagined it. In his fiction, he counterpoised those personae against one another to create a written world of controlled chaos, made in his own protean image and reflective of his own multiple sense of self. In this groundbreaking book, James Watson draws on the entire Faulkner canon, including letters and even photographs, to decipher the complicated ways in which Faulkner put himself forth through written performances and displays based in and expressive of his emotional biography. The topics Watson treats include the overtly performative aspects of The Sound and the Fury and related manuscripts and privately written records of Faulkner’s life; the ways in which his complicated marriage and his relationships to male mentors underlie recurring motifs in his fiction such as marriage and fatherhood; his reading of Melville, Hawthorne, and Thoreau, and his working out through them the problematics of authorial sovereignty; his presentation of himself as "Old Moster," the artist-God of his fictional cosmos; and the complex of personal and epistolary relationships that lies behind novels from Soldiers’ Pay to Requiem for a Nun.