William Faulkner, fully William Cuthbert Faulkner

William
Faulkner, fully William Cuthbert Faulkner
1897
1962

American Novelist, Short-Story Writer Awarded Nobel Prize

Author Quotes

They held the funeral on the second day, with the town coming to look at Miss Emily beneath a mass of bought flowers with the crayon face of her father musing profoundly above the bier and the ladies sibilant and macabre; and the very old men - some in their brushed Confederate uniforms - on the porch and the lawn, talking of Miss Emily as if she had been a contemporary of theirs, believing that they had danced with her and courted her perhaps, confusing time with its mathematical progression, as the old do, to whom all the past is not a diminishing road but, instead, a huge meadow which no winter ever quite touches, divided from them now by the narrow bottle-neck of the most recent decade of years.

To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi.

What makes a fool is an inability to take even his own good advice.

Who gathers the withered rose?

They say love dies between two people. That’s wrong. It doesn’t die. It just leaves you, goes away, if you aren’t good enough, worthy enough. It doesn’t die; you’re the one that dies. It’s like the ocean: if you’re no good, if you begin to make a bad smell in it, it just spews you up somewhere to die. You die anyway, but I had rather drown in the ocean than be burped up onto a strip of dead beach and be dried away by the sun into a little foul smear with no name to it, just this was for an epitaph.

Tomorrow night is nothing but one long sleepless wrestle with yesterday's omissions and regrets.

What matters is at the end of life, when you're about to pass into oblivion, that you've at least scratched 'Kilroy was here,' on the last wall of the universe.

Who is he who will affirm that there must be a web of flesh and bone to hold the shape of love?

They say that it is the practiced liar who can deceive. But so often the practiced and chronic liar deceives only himself; it is the man who all his life has been self-convicted of veracity whose lies find quickest credence.

Too much happens. . . Man performs, engenders, so much more than he can or should have to bear. That's how he finds that he can bear anything. . . That's what's so terrible.

What sets a man writhing sleepless in bed at night is not having injured his fellow so much as having been wrong; the mere injury he can efface by destroying the victim and the witness but the mistake is his and that is one of his cats which he always prefers to choke to death with butter.

Why did you kiss him was given why.

They were as two people become now and then, who seem to know one another so well or are so much alike that the power, the need, to communicate by speech atrophies from disuse and, comprehending without need of the medium of ear or intellect, they no longer understood one another's actual words.

Try to be better than yourself.

When grown people speak of the innocence of children, they don’t really know what they mean. Pressed, they will go a step further and say, “Well, ignorance then”. The child is neither. There is no crime which a boy of eleven had not envisaged long ago. His only innocence is, he may not be old enough to desire the fruits of it, which is not innocence but appetite; his ignorance is, he does not know how to commit it, which is not ignorance but size. But Boon didn't know this. He must seduce me. And he had so little time: only from the time the train left until dark.

Why do you hate the South? I don’t hate it. . . . I don’t hate it. . . . I don’t hate it he thought, panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark; I don’t. I don’t! I don’t hate it! I don’t hate it!

They will endure. They are better than we are. Stronger than we are. Their vices are vices aped from white men or that white men and bondage have taught them: improvidence and intemperance and evasion -- not laziness: evasion: of what white men had set them to, not for their aggrandizement or even comfort but his own.

Unless you're ashamed of yourself now and then, you're not honest.

When I have one martini, I feel bigger, wiser, taller. When I have a second, I feel superlative. When I have more, there's no holding me.

Why that’s a hundred miles away. That’s a long way to go just to eat.

Thinking as he had thought before and would think again and as every other man has thought: how false the most profound book turns out to be when applied to life.

War and drink are the two things man is never too poor to buy.

When I was fifteen, a companion and I, on a dare, went into the mound one day just at sunset. We saw some of those Indians for the first time; we got directions from them and reached the top of the mound just as the sun set. We had camping equipment with us, but we made no fire. We didn't even make down our beds. We just sat side by side on that mound until it became light enough to find our way back to the road. We didn't talk. When we looked at each other in the gray dawn, our faces were gray, too, quiet, very grave. When we reached town again, we didn't talk either. We just parted and went home and went to bed. That's what we thought, felt, about the mound. We were children, it is true, yet we were descendants of people who read books and who were, or should have been, beyond superstition and impervious to mindless fear.

With the gun which was too big for him, the breech-loader which did not even belong to him but to Major de Spain and which he had fired only once, at a stump on the first day to learn the recoil and how to reload it with the paper shells, he stood against a big gum tree beside a little bayou whose black still water crept without motion out of a cane-brake, across a small clearing and into the cane again, where, invisible, a bird, the big woodpecker called Lord-to-God by negroes, clattered at a dead trunk. It was a stand like any other stand, dissimilar only in incidentals to the one where he had stood each morning for two weeks; a territory new to him yet no less familiar than that other one which after two weeks he had come to believe he knew a little--the same solitude, the same loneliness through which frail and timorous man had merely passed without altering it, leaving no mark nor scar, which looked exactly as it must have looked when the first ancestor of Sam fathers' Chickasaw predecessors crept into it and looked about him, club or stone axe or bone arrow drawn and ready, different only because, squatting at the edge of the kitchen, he had smelled the dogs huddled and cringing beneath it and saw the raked ear and side of the bitch that, as Sam had said, had to be brave once in order to keep on calling herself a dog, and saw yesterday in the earth beside the gutted log, the print of the living foot. He heard no dogs at all. He never did certainly hear them. He only heard the drumming of the woodpecker stop short off, and knew that the bear was looking at him. He did not move, holding the useless gun which he knew now he would never fire at it, now or ever, tasting in his saliva that tain’t of brass which he had smelled in the huddled dogs when he peered under the kitchen.

This delta, he thought: This Delta. This land which man has deswamped and denuded and derivered in two generations so that white men can own plantations and commute every night to Memphis and black men own plantations and ride in jim crow cars to Chicago to live in millionaires’ mansions on Lakeshore Drive, where white men rent farms and live like niggers and niggers crop on shares and live like animals, where cotton is planted and grows man-tall in the very cracks of the sidewalks, and ursury and mortgage and bankcruptcy and measureless wealth, Chinese and African and Aryan and Jew, all breed and spawn together until no man has time to say which is which nor cares…. No wonder the ruined woods I used to know don’t cry for retribution! He thought: The people who have destroyed it will accomplish its revenge.

Author Picture
First Name
William
Last Name
Faulkner, fully William Cuthbert Faulkner
Birth Date
1897
Death Date
1962
Bio

American Novelist, Short-Story Writer Awarded Nobel Prize