Sunday 15 November 2015

William Faulkner's Banquet Speech

William Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 for "his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel."  He was the only Mississippi born writer to receive the prize.  He wrote The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Light in August, Absalom! Absalom! and A Rose for Emily.  

Here is an excerpt from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

"Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it.  There are no longer problems of the spirit.  There is only the question:  When will I be blown up?  Because of this, 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.

I refuse to accept this.  I believe that man will not merely endure:  he will prevail.  He is immortal, not because he along among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.  The poet's, the writer's duty is to write about these things.  It is his privilege to help man endure these things.  It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past.  The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail."

Carl Van Vechten - William Faulkner.jpg

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