William Cuthbert Faulkner (September 25, 1897 — July 6, 1962) was an American writer of novels, short stories, poetry and occasional screenplays.
William Cuthbert Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, the first of four sons to Murry Cuthbert Faulkner (August 17, 1870 – August 7, 1932) and Maud Butler (November 27, 1871 – October 19, 1960). He had three younger brothers: Murry Charles “Jack” Faulkner (June 26, 1899 – December 24, 1975), author John Faulkner (September 24, 1901 – March 28, 1963) and Dean Swift Faulkner (August 15, 1907 – November 10, 1935).
Faulkner was born and raised in, and heavily influenced by, his home state of Mississippi, as well as by the history and culture of the American South altogether. Only four days prior to his fifth birthday, the Faulkner family settled in Oxford, Mississippi on September 21, 1902, where he resided on and off for the remainder of his life.
Faulkner demonstrated an aptitude for painting in water colors and for writing verses in songs as a child, but grew increasingly disillusioned with any and all artistic pursuits in the sixth grade. He instead directed his attention to literature, and later stated that he modeled his early writing on the Romantic era in late 18th century and early 19th century in England.He attended the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in Oxford, and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon social fraternity. He enrolled at Ole Miss in 1919, and attended three semesters before dropping out in November 1920.
The younger Faulkner was greatly influenced by the history of his family and the region in which he lived. Mississippi marked his sense of humor, his sense of the tragic position of Black and White Americans, his characterization of Southern characters, and his timeless themes, including fiercely intelligent people dwelling behind the façades of good old boys and simpletons. Unable to join the United States Army due to his height (he was 5′ 5½”), Faulkner enlisted in the British Royal Flying Corps, later training at RFC bases in Canada and Britain, yet never experienced wartime action during the First World War.
In 1918, upon enlisting in the RFC, Faulkner himself made the change to his surname. However, according to one story, a careless typesetter simply made an error. When the misprint appeared on the title page of his first book, Faulkner was asked whether he wanted a change. He supposedly replied, “Either way suits me.” Although Faulkner is heavily identified with Mississippi, he was residing in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1925 when he wrote his first novel, Soldiers’ Pay, after being directly influenced by Sherwood Anderson to attempt fiction writing. The miniature house at 624 Pirate’s Alley, just around the corner from St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans is now the premises of Faulkner House Books, where it also serves as the headquarters of the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society.
Faulkner served as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville from February to June 1957. He suffered serious injuries in a horse-riding accident in 1959, and died from a myocardial infarction, aged 64, on July 6, 1962, at Wright’s Sanitorium in Byhalia, Mississippi. He is buried along with his family in St. Peter’s Cemetery in Oxford, along with a family friend with the mysterious initials E.T
The majority of his works are based in his native state of Mississippi. Faulkner is considered one of the most important writers of the Southern literature of the United States, along with Mark Twain, Robert Penn Warren, Flannery O’Connor, Truman Capote, Eudora Welty, Thomas Wolfe, Harper Lee and Tennessee Williams. Though his work was published as early as 1919, and largely during the 1920s and 1930s, Faulkner was relatively unknown until receiving the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. Some now consider Faulkner to be the greatest writer of all time.
William Faulkner: Nobel Prize Speech
December 10, 1950
I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work–a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will some day stand where I am standing.
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 one 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. He must learn them again.
He 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. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, and victories without hope and worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.
Until he learns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this.
I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone 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 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.
Mexico’s Carlos Slim opens stunning new complex to house art collection
EL PAÍS – By PABLO ORDAZ
It was two years ago that Mexican magnate Carlos Slim was named the world’s richest man by Forbes magazine. But it was long before then – since his marriage to Soumaya Domit in 1966 – that he began collecting art. “It was during our honeymoon around Europe,” he says. “My wife was always very sensitive to art. I fueled that passion by buying an important collection of Mexican colonial art. I later realized that there were no museums with international art in Mexico. […] So I started to buy European art, which was as expensive as it is now.”
As his empire grew, so did his art collection. And now Slim has just opened the Soumaya Museum in Mexico City to house his 60,000-piece collection, the name a tribute to the memory of the woman who inspired it all.
The first thing you notice about the 563-million-euro complex are the sparkles of light it gives off. Engineer Slim gave his architect son-in-law Fernando Romero the job of creating a building that would disappoint no one. Held up by 28 steel columns of different diameters, it is built over six floors, but natural light only penetrates the last one. The rest is protected by 17,000 hexagonal panels that reflect the sun’s rays and evoke the “beehive and family work.”
The second thing you notice is the apparent disorder of the works on show. Picasso, Rodin, El Greco, Van Gogh, Monet, Cézanne, Leonardo da Vinci – to name but a few – share space with a coin and medal collection, a mural by Diego Rivera and an Alexander McQueen dress. But there’s a reason for the haphazard nature, says museum director Alfonso Miranda. “Slim’s collection is so extensive that we have the chance to establish analogies, bridges of communication between the history of art in Mexico and the history of art in the West. It’s interweaving the collection in a daring way, as it is the same building.”
It certainly met the approval of Mexican President Felipe Calderón. “[This museum] places Mexico at the vanguard in the world of culture,” he said at the opening ceremony, which was also attended by writer Gabriel García Márquez and US talk-show host and art collector Larry King.
SUPERCOOPERATORS – Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed – Martin A. Nowak with Roger Highfield – 330 pp. Free Press. $27
New York Times Book Review – By OREN HARMAN
What do colon cancer, ant colonies, language and global warming have in common? This might sound like the front end of a joke, but in fact it’s a serious challenge to the standard view of evolution. Martin A. Nowak, the director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard, has devoted a brilliant career to showing that Darwin, and particularly his followers, batted only two for three.
Random mutation and natural selection have indeed been powerful motors for change in the natural world — the struggle for existence pitting the fit against the fitter in a hullabaloo of rivalry. But most of the great innovations of life on earth, Nowak argues, from genes to cells to societies, have been due to a third motor, and “master architect,” of evolution: cooperation.
“SuperCooperators” (written with Roger Highfield, editor of New Scientist magazine) is an absorbing, accessible book about the power of mathematics. Unlike Darwin with his brine bottles and pigeon coops, Nowak aims to tackle the mysteries of nature with paper, pencil and computer…
At the heart of Nowak’s ideas is the haunting game of Prisoner’s Dilemma. The game involves two accomplices who are caught for a crime, interrogated separately and offered a deal. If one player incriminates the other, or “defects,” while the second remains silent, or “cooperates,” he will be given a sentence of one year, while the other player gets four.
If both remain silent, they will be sentenced to only two years, but if both defect, they will receive three years. The rational choice for either prisoner is to defect, getting three years — though had both cooperated, they’d have been out in two. In the absence of trust, reason can be self-destructive…
In “SuperCooperators,” Nowak argues that two of his mechanisms, indirect reciprocity and group selection, played an important role in human evolution. Think of a proto-simian trying to figure out whether to trust another in an exchange: Should I provide sex now for food and protection later? The proto-simian may have observed the behavior of its prospective partner, or it may not have; chances are good that others have, though. Reputation becomes important.
The proto-simian evolves into a hominid, with a bigger brain allowing for more precise communication about reputation. Moral instincts evolve to produce shame, guilt, trust, empathy; social intelligence and conscience are born. Before you know it, Yogi Berra is summing it all up: “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.” Language, cognition and morality, Nowak argues, are evolutionary spinoffs of the fundamental need of social creatures to cooperate…
Love Song (from “Vision in Spring”, 1921)
“Change and change: the world revolves to worlds,
To minute whorls
And particles of soil on careless thumbs.
Now I shall go alone,
I shall echo streets of stone, while evening comes
Treading space and beat, space and beat.
The last left seed of beauty in my heart
That I so carefully tended, leaf and bloom,
Falls in darkness.”
by William Faulkner