The Big O for Faulkner

(Yes, that ol’ chestnut again …)

William Faulkner is the latest pick for Oprah’s Book Club — and not just one, but three books: As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury and A Light in August. A veritable Faulkner-palooza. But wait — there’s more! As a part of her Very Faulkner Summer, Oprah’s launching a cornucopia of lessons and information — including lectures on Faulkner and Q&A sessions with professors.

Oh, that Oprah — what a scamp! Having the audacity to ratchet up her influence to get people into Faulkner! Can you imagine?

I wonder if she knows that Faulkner once painted a friend’s penis green?

So what do you think about all this Faulkner-mania? About Oprah and her book club? Or maybe you have a favorite Faulkner work … whatever the case, check in here with your thoughts and theories. (For another perspective, you may also want to check out this recent opinion piece from the folks at Bookninja.) Whatever you think about Oprah, the commercialization of literature or Faulkner (and his penis-painting ways) — this is a pretty big undertaking for “O” and it should be interesting to see how it goes.

7 Responses

  1. I’m green with
    I’m green with envy

    Fiah-crackah, do continue to regail us with tales of Mr. Faulknah…

    My favorite Faulkner novel is The Unvanquished. I remember writing a paper on it for an American Literature class. It was about the way young Bayard saw his father as a big, powerful man, when his father was actually small in stature. Seen thru the eyes of youth, in other words.

  2. How about that ?Faulkner and
    How about that ?

    Faulkner and I have something in common . . . well I used blue but still!

    I never realy minded that Oprah has a book club. In fact it is probably a good thing . . oh that’s Martha Stewart . . . anyhow, anything that makes middle America turn on to reading isn’t bad. The “bookninja” debate seems a little excessive but looks like a cool site.

  3. Ha — well you never know,
    Ha — well you never know, maybe in a few years, Oprah will be promoting a minfin selection.

    Oprah’s book club never bothered me either, I figure I have bigger fish to fry. But I know a lot of people feel that since she wields a lot of influence, she should use it to bring lesser-known books to the forefront. Still others just don’t like the idea that Oprah is telling them what to read or the fact that it involves the “masses”. I don’t really get it, but whatever. I think it’s interesting that they’ve set up this whole Faulkner school online. I may have to check it out and do and investigative report.

  4. Sounds interesting, Bill, I’m
    Sounds interesting, Bill, I’m not familiar with that one. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Agony and FaulknerI have
    Agony and Faulkner

    I have agonized and have guilt over my persistent inability to read Faulkner. I try about every five years. The three mentioned- As I lay Dying, the Sound and the Fury and A light in August are ironically the three that I’ve tried to read most recently. Can someone help me with my Faulkneritis?

  6. Don’t worry — you are not
    Don’t worry — you are not alone in this. When I took American Literature, I did much better with Poe. If Roger Corman had made some low budget Faulkner films with Vincent Price and Jack Nicholson, I’m sure I would have shown more affinity for the man’s novels.

    Last night after I posted that The Unvanquished was my favorite Faulkner novel, I decided to surf the net for some more info on the old boy. I was a little surprised when I read several reviewers, and Faulkner himself, saying that anyone unfamiliar with Faulkner should start with The Unvanquished, as it is his easiest novel to read. “Oh, great,” I thought. “Now everyone on LitKicks knows I’m a dumb-ass.”

    But not really, because everyone on LitKicks is cool. I’ve already proclaimed brazenly that I only got half-way thru Ulysses, and now I admit that Faulkner nearly kicked my ass, too. Too bad I didn’t know about the penis painting shenanigans during my college days; it would have made a most original extra-credit project.

    But wait. According to a web site called, Faulkner recommended The Unvanquished for other reasons. Here is a long quote from BookRags:

    “William Faulkner is said to have recommended that readers unfamiliar with his work should begin with The Unvanquished. Probably his reason for this choice was not the book’s relative ease of reading or quality, but because The Unvanquished provides an historical origin for the Southern attitudes and dilemmas that have shaped the South since the Civil War and hence Faulkner’s fiction. Because historical fiction is generally not respected by critics, none have thought of The Unvanquished as historical fiction, although the novel comes close to that genre as it dramatizes how Southerners and the Sartoris family of Mississippi in particular responded when the war began to turn against the South with the fall of Vicksburg in 1863 and later with an action highlighted by invasion, defeat, Reconstruction, and to a limited extent, renewal. While The Unvanquished shows an erosion of values for the Sartoris family and their neighbors through the war prior to Bayard’s affirmation of value in “An Odor of Verbena,” the novel has many panoramic scenes that give a sense of what it was like to be invaded, to suffer privation, to have hopes of freedom unable to be realized, and to fear the absence of order and the loss of control.

    While readers care most about the Sartoris family and the blacks whose destiny is tied to theirs, one is given a sense of an historical period from a Southern perspective through their representative suffering, defeats, and victories and their careful ties to larger historical events.”

  7. Thanks, Bill. I’ll try THE
    Thanks, Bill. I’ll try THE UNVANQUISHED in the semi-near future.

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