Faulkner and War
A critical exploration of the effects and influence of America's wars upon the works of the Nobel Prize laureate
There are three wars in the mind and in the art of William Faulkner--the American Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Although he did not fight in any war, he postured as a veteran flyer, for he had enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps in Canada. In his novels, short stories, essays, and letters, war remained a looming subject.
Faulkner and War, a collection of essays from the Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference, held at the University of Mississippi in 2001, explores the role that war played in the life and work of a writer whose career seems forever poised against a backdrop of wars going on or recently ended or in the volatile years between. Perhaps most significant for all his works was the Civil War, which had ended thirty-two years before Faulkner was born. Yet it was the vast, escapable panorama against which he set his novels of the anguished South.
John Limon discusses Faulkner's attempt to show how much of the sense of reality that the Great War produced could be rendered in fiction without explicit reference to it, as, for example, in one novel seemingly remote from the war, As I Lay Dying. Lothar Hönnighausen examines Faulkner's evolving ideological attitudes toward war in Soldiers' Pay, A Fable, and The Mansion.
These and other essays give illumination to Faulkner's close analysis of war and its consequences as they appear in his work.