Faulkner and His Contemporaries

Faulkner was considered by many in his lifetime to be a Southern bumpkin, a bucolic eccentric who, with mud between his toes, churned out perverse and perversely incomprehensible novels in intervals between swilling alcohol and slopping hogs. And although Faulkner is now one of the most revered writers of the 20th century, he is also one of the most frequently misread. The seminar attempts to arrive at a reasoned and reasonable estimation of Faulkner’s achievement by examining such landmark texts as The Wild Palms, The Sound and the Fury, and Go Down, Moses alongside the best work of his contemporaries. The contemporaries, all significant authors in their own right, also bear some personal or literary connection to Faulkner. The most obvious choice in this respect is Hemingway, an almost exact coeval of Faulkner’s and one whose reputation during their lifetimes exceeded that of his Southern counterpart. Other pertinent contemporaries analyzed in the course include Flannery O’Connor, Ernest Gaines, Zora Neale Hurston, and Tennessee Williams.