William Faulkner and Southern History / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Buy Used
Buy Used from BN.com
(Save 36%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $3.88
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 92%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (21) from $3.88   
  • New (5) from $24.87   
  • Used (16) from $3.88   


One of America's great novelists, William Faulkner was a writer deeply rooted in the American South. In works such as The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Light in August, and Absalom, Absalom! Faulkner drew powerfully on Southern themes, attitudes, and atmosphere to create his own world and place--the mythical Yoknapatawpha County--peopled with quintessential Southerners such as the Compsons, Sartorises, Snopes, and McCaslins. Indeed, to a degree perhaps unmatched by any other major twentieth-century novelist, Faulkner remained at home and explored his own region--the history and culture and people of the South. Now, in William Faulkner and Southern History, one of America's most acclaimed historians of the South, Joel Williamson, weaves together a perceptive biography of Faulkner himself, an astute analysis of his works, and a revealing history of Faulkner's ancestors in Mississippi--a family history that becomes, in Williamson's skilled hands, a vivid portrait of Southern culture itself.
Williamson provides an insightful look at Faulkner's ancestors, a group sketch so brilliant that the family comes alive almost as vividly as in Faulkner's own fiction. Indeed, his ancestors often outstrip his characters in their colorful and bizarre nature. Williamson has made several discoveries: the Falkners (William was the first to spell it "Faulkner") were not planter, slaveholding "aristocrats"; Confederate Colonel Falkner was not an unalloyed hero, and he probably sired, protected, and educated a mulatto daughter who married into America's mulatto elite; Faulkner's maternal grandfather Charlie Butler stole the town's money and disappeared in the winter of 1887-1888, never to return. Equally important, Williamson uses these stories to underscore themes of race, class, economics, politics, religion, sex and violence, idealism and Romanticism--"the rainbow of elements in human culture"--that reappear in Faulkner's work. He also shows that, while Faulkner's ancestors were no ordinary people, and while he sometimes flashed a curious pride in them, Faulkner came to embrace a pervasive sense of shame concerning both his family and his culture. This he wove into his writing, especially about sex, race, class, and violence, psychic and otherwise.
William Faulkner and Southern History represents an unprecedented publishing event--an eminent historian writing on a major literary figure. By revealing the deep history behind the art of the South's most celebrated writer, Williamson evokes new insights and deeper understanding, providing anyone familiar with Faulkner's great novels with a host of connections between his work, his life, and his ancestry.

One of America's most acclaimed historians of the South weaves together a perceptive biography of Faulkner with an astute analysis of his works and a revealing history of his ancestors in Mississippi--a family history that becomes, in Williamson's skilled hands, a vivid portrait of Southern culture itself.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Excellent....Williamson's book, read before the novels, particularly with its account of the Faulkner ancestry and biography, removes many of the obstacles that the novelist placed in the path of his readers."--The Journal of Mississippi History

"Mississippi--with its heady brew of race, sex, and violence--is brilliantly reconfigured in Joel Williamson's William Faulkner and Southern History.--The Nation

"Superbly researched, elegantly written."--New York Newsday

"Important because it provides facts and informed speculations about Faulkner's family that beckon to richer readings of the writer's strangely protean poses and voices--an acculmulation of sixty-six years of speaking, writing and acting that so far has thwarted biographical analysis."--Chicago Tribune

"As rigorous as the best history and as absorbing as the best novel. The research...on Faulkner's ancestors is extraordinary--not only very rich as a context for his literary career, but fascinating in its own terms as a portrait of a complicated family network in the South."--William E. Cain, Wellesley College

"In this masterful blend of family history, biography, cultural history, and literary criticism, noted Southern historian Williamson explores the elements that make up Faulkner's fictional universe....The book...provides a clearer picture than other Faulkner biographies of his time in Hollywood, his insatiable desire for younger women, and his recurring drinking bouts....Highly recommended."--Library Journal

"A perceptive and sympathetic account based on extensive research...offers some revelations about Faulkner's ancestry and background, along with a comprehensive commentary on the novelist's life and works."--Kirkus Reviews

"The first definitive treatment we've had of the Butler ancestry of Faulkner's mother Maud."--Nashville Banner

"[A] wonderfully rich study....Williamson gives us... a greater sense of the felt life of Faulkner and his contemporaries than has any previous Faulkner biographer."--The Southern Register

"Williamson provides a powerful, rich study of William Faulkner and his southern heritage....No one will write again about Faulkner and his world without grappling first with this book."--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

Library Journal
In this masterful blend of family history, biography, cultural history, and literary criticism, noted Southern historian Williamson (Univ. of North Carolina) explores the elements that make up Faulkner's fictional universe. Williamson demonstrates that the themes of race, class, sex, and violence that dominate Faulkner's fiction arise out of the conflict between an idealism generated by the Southerners' desire for an Edenic world in which individuals enact well-defined cultural, political, and social roles and a realism, fostered by modern industrial society, that challenged such roles. Williamson applies this thesis with particular force to the roles of sex and community in Faulkner's writing. The book also provides a clearer picture than other Faulkner biographies of his time in Hollywood, his insatiable desire for younger women, and his recurring drinking bouts. Williamson's study is a fine complement to Joseph Blotner's Faulkner: A Biography ( LJ 4/15/84) and a nice addition to cultural histories of the South. Highly recommended for public libraries.-- Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Westerville P.L., Ohio
Williamson, historian of the South and author of The Crucible of Race (Oxford U.P., 1984), weaves together a biography of Faulkner himself, an analysis of his works, and a history of Faulkner's ancestors in Mississippi, into a portrait of Southern culture itself. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195101294
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/28/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Joel Williamson is Lineberger Professor in the Humanities at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is one of our foremost historians of the South, and his classic work The Crucible of Race (1984) won five awards: the Parkman Prize by the Society of American Historians (for high literary quality), the Emerson Award by Phi Beta Kappa (for scholarship in the humanities), a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, the Mayflower Cup, and the Owsley Prize of the Southern Historical Association (for the best book on the American South). It was also one of three books nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in History for 1984.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Out of the Garden 3
1 Ancestry
1. The Falkners 11
2. The Colonel 41
3. The Butlers 77
4. Flight 111
2 Biography
5. Youth, 1897-1918 141
6. The Artist as a Young Man, 1918-1929 184
7. The Middle Years, 1929-1950 225
8. The Search, 1950-1956 275
9. The Virginia Years, 1956-1962 315
3 The Writing
A Faulknerian Universe 355
10. Sex in the Sylvan Setting 365
11. Community 399
The Garden 427
Acknowledgments 435
Notes 439
Index 483
Genealogy 511
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)