Mississippi typically makes headlines as the state that takes last place in everything. Outsiders sometimes go so far as to claim that Mississippi does not contribute to the country as a whole. However, Mississippi has also produced many great literary figures in recent history. Literature is an integral part of culture, and Union residents should know about some of these writers. Although many may not like to read, these writers are a part of Mississippi’s story and have contributed greatly to the culture of the United States. Every Mississippian can express pride in the state’s literary heritage. William Faulkner was one of the first great writers who was born and lived in Mississippi. Many Union residents likely know his name already, but many Union residents likely do not know his story.
Faulkner was born in northern Mississippi, and he produced many great literary works of various kinds throughout his life. He was born in 1897 in northern Mississippi, and after growing up in Oxford, Faulkner joined the Canadian (and later British) Royal Airforce in order to fight in WWI (“William Faulkner”). Although he intended to fly airplanes as a fighter pilot, Faulkner suffered an injury during training and did not see any combat during the war (despite what he claimed as he strutted through Oxford). After he returned home, he studied at the University of Mississippi for a time, and he worked a few odd writing jobs. He spent most of his life in Mississippi, and eventually, he began writing his own works that involve the decay of the Old South in a post-Civil War era; he does this by showing the growth and decline of the South through his characters. His novels and stories involve a range of characters, and all of these works take place in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, which Faulkner based on his home county of Lafeyette County, Mississippi (“William Faulkner”). Furthermore, his works also rely on some more advanced literary techniques that speak to the genius of his writing, and he was recognized in his day for many of these works.
As for his most well-known writings, Faulkner wrote short stories, novels and even screenplays. Many people read his short stories “A Rose for Emily” and “Barn Burning” in high school or college. His most well-known novels are “The Sound and the Fury,” “As I Lay Dying” and “Sanctuary.” Faulkner also wrote “Requiem for a Nun,” “Light in August,” “Absalom, Absalom!,” “Intruder in the Dust,” “The Hamlet,” “The Town” and “The Mansion.” In 1949, Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for literature (“William Faulkner”), and later in his life, took several trips to Hollywood to write screenplays, taking his Mississippi ways with him. Faulkner went hunting several times while out in Hollywood, and one time he hunted with director Howard Hawks and Clark Gable. While hunting, Faulkner and Hawks talked about literature, and Clark Gable asked Faulkner for his opinion on the best writers of the modern day. Faulkner answered, “Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather, Thomas Mann and William Faulkner.” Clark Gable thought for a second and asked (Faulkner was well-established as an author by this point), “Do you write, Mr. Faulkner?” Faulkner answered with wit, “Yes, Mr. Gable. What do you do?” (Perrigin). Although many of his screenplays did not receive the attention of his novels and stories, this story has seemed to endure through the years in a similar manner to most of Faulkner’s works.
William Faulkner’s success in literature earned him the status as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, and he comes from a small town in Mississippi. All Union residents can express pride at this fact and at Mississippi’s literary heritage. Faulkner helped defined the genre of Southern literature, greatly contributing to the overall culture of the United States. Union residents now know Faulkner’s story, some of his works (and their themes) and some facts about his life. He did well for a guy from Mississippi, and everyone should remember his story.