William Faulkner, fully William Cuthbert Faulkner

William
Faulkner, fully William Cuthbert Faulkner
1897
1962

American Novelist, Short-Story Writer Awarded Nobel Prize

Author Quotes

We have to start teaching ourselves not to be afraid

When something is new and hard and bright, there ought to be something a little better for it than just being safe, since the safe things are just the things that folks have been doing so long they have worn the edges off and there's nothing to the doing of them that leaves a man to say, That was not done before and it cannot be done again.

The work of the artist is to lift up people’s hearts and help them endure

There is no was.

The writer doesn't need economic freedom. All he needs is a pencil and some paper.

There is something about jumping a horse over a fence, something that makes you feel good. Perhaps it's the risk, the gamble. In any event it's a thing I need.

The writer in America isn't part of the culture of this country. He's like a fine dog. People like him around, but he's of no use.

The writer must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid: and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed—love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.

The writer's only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the Ode on a Grecian Urn is worth any number of old ladies.

The young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. He must learn them again.

Then Ben wailed again, hopeless and prolonged. It was nothing. Just sound. It might have been all time and injustice and sorrow become vocal for an instant by a conjunction of planets.

Then I began to smell it again, like each time he returned, like the day back in the spring when I rode up on the drive standing in one of his stirrups - that odor in the his clothes and beard and flesh too which I believed was the smell of powder and glory, the elected victorious but know better now: know now to have been only the will to endure, a sardonic and even humorous declining of self-delusion which is not even kin to that optimism which believes that that which is about to happen to us can possibly be the worst which we can suffer.

Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.

There are some things for which three words are three too many, and three thousand words that many words too less.

There are some things that just have to be whether they are or not, have to be a damn sight more than some other things that are and it don't matter a damn whether they are or not.

There are some things which happen to us which the intelligence and the senses refuse just as the stomach sometimes refuses what the palate has accepted but which digestion cannot compass -- occurrences which stop us dead as though by some impalpable intervention, like a sheet of glass through which we watch all subsequent events transpire as though in a soundless vacuum, and fade, vanish; are gone, leaving us immobile, impotent, helpless; fixed, until we can die.

The tools I need for my work are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey.

There is a limit to what a child can accept, assimilate; not to what it can believe because a child can believe anything, given time, but to what it can accept, a limit in time, in the very time which nourishes the believing of the incredible.

The two girls emanated an incorrigible idle inertia.

There is a price for being good the same as for being bad; a cost to pay. And it's the good men that can't deny the bill when it comes around. They can't deny it, like the honest man that gambles. The bad men can deny it; that's why don't anybody expect them to pay on sight or any other time. But the good can't.

The two great men in my time were Mann and Joyce. You should approach Joyce's Ulysses as the illiterate Baptist preacher approaches the Old Testament: with faith.

There is no such thing as bad whiskey. Some whiskeys just happen to be better than others. But a man shouldn't fool with booze until he's fifty; then he's a damn fool if he doesn't.

The whiskey died away in time and was renewed and died again, but the street ran on. From that night the thousand streets ran as one street, with imperceptible corners and changes of scene.

There is no such thing as was—only is. If was existed, there would be no grief or sorrow.

The Swiss are not a people so much as a neat, clean, quite solvent business

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