The Saddest Words: William Faulkner's Civil War

Author:   Michael Gorra (Smith College)
Publisher:   WW Norton & Co
ISBN:  

9781324091011


Pages:   448
Publication Date:   30 November 2021
Format:   Paperback
Availability:   In stock   Availability explained
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The Saddest Words: William Faulkner's Civil War


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Overview

With this ?rich, complex, and eloquent? (Drew Gilpin Faust, Atlantic) work, Pulitzer Prize finalist Michael Gorra charts the evolution of an author through his most cherished?and contested?novels. Given the undeniable echoes of ?Lost Cause? romanticism in William Faulkner's fiction, as well as his depiction of Black characters and Black speech, Gorra argues convincingly that Faulkner demands a sobering reevaluation. Upending previous critical traditions and interweaving biography, literary criticism, and rich travelogue, the widely acclaimed The Saddest Words recontextualizes Faulkner, revealing a civil war within him, while examining the most plangent cultural issues facing American literature today.

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Author:   Michael Gorra (Smith College)
Publisher:   WW Norton & Co
Imprint:   WW Norton & Co
Dimensions:   Width: 14.00cm , Height: 3.00cm , Length: 21.10cm
Weight:   0.355kg
ISBN:  

9781324091011


ISBN 10:   1324091010
Pages:   448
Publication Date:   30 November 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  General
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Availability:   In stock   Availability explained
We have confirmation that this item is in stock with the supplier. It will be ordered in for you and dispatched immediately.

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Reviews

Michael Gorra is one of the finest critical minds at work in literature today, and this masterly reassessment of William Faulkner could not be more timely. Faulkner is a central figure in American fiction and, indeed, in American history, a voice as resonant in today's troubled world as it was in his own time. Gorra asks hard questions about the novelist and the man, and is unflinching in answering them. This is a momentous and thrilling book. -- John Banville Gorra's complex and thought-provoking meditation on Faulkner is rich in insight, making the case for the novelist's literary achievement and his historical value - as an unparalleled chronicler of slavery's aftermath, and its damage to America's psyche. -- 100 Notable Books of 2020 - The New York Times Book Review Faulkner's enduring, ubiquitous quote that 'the past is never dead' might be a fitting epitaph for this new book. In this timely re-examination, Gorra considers how Faulkner should be read in the 21st century, with a focus on the depiction of Black people and racism in his fiction. -- Joumana Khatib - The New York Times Eloquent analysis... Graceful... A nimble hybrid that blends literary analyses with history, biography, and personal narrative... [Gorra] movingly narrates the debacles at Bull Run and Gettysburg and effortlessly slides from astute analyses of Faulkner's best stories, like 'Mountain Victory,' to such novels as The Sound and the Fury, The Unvanquished (1938), and Go Down, Moses (1942). -- Brenda Wineapple - The New York Review of Books Powerful... Mr. Gorra demonstrates convincingly that this unshakable past for Faulkner came increasingly to involve race.... For Mr. Gorra, Faulkner's fiction should be read these days for 'the drama and struggle and paradox and power of his attempt to work through our history, to wrestle or rescue it into meaning.' Reading Faulkner today we discover just how much imagination and courage can be required to face the past. -- Randall Fuller - The Wall Street Journal Gorra's well-conceived, exhaustively researched book probes history's refusals... Rich in insight... Timely and essential as we confront, once again, the question of who is a citizen and who among us should enjoy its privileges. -- Ayana Mathis - The New York Times Book Review Michael Gorra, an English professor at Smith, believes Faulkner to be the most important novelist of the 20th century. In his rich, complex, and eloquent new book, The Saddest Words: William Faulkner's Civil War, he makes the case for how and why to read Faulkner in the 21st by revisiting his fiction through the lens of the Civil War, 'the central quarrel of our nation's history.' In setting out to explore what Faulkner can tell us about the Civil War and what the war can tell us about Faulkner, Gorra engages as both historian and literary critic. But he also writes, he confesses, as an 'act of citizenship.' -- Drew Gilpin Faust - The Atlantic


A meticulous work spanning literary criticism and history. As Gorra demonstrates, writing allowed Faulkner (1897-1962) to clarify his thinking and create characters who were often a reflection of himself, in many ways depicting the people of the South as unable to move on from the past. Biographical portions of the narrative show how the author's own life mirrored these behaviors and sentiments, especially revealing is Gorra's examination of Faulkner's later career in Hollywood.?Faulkner once famously said, 'The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past, ' and this exceptional study by Faulkner lends credence to these words. A worthy addition to Faulkner studies, and for larger Southern literature and Civil War collections.--David Keymer - Library Journal Faulkner's enduring, ubiquitous quote that 'the past is never dead' might be a fitting epitaph for this new book. In this timely re-examination, Gorra considers how Faulkner should be read in the 21st century, with a focus on the depiction of Black people and racism in his fiction.--Joumana Khatib - New York Times Gorra's well-conceived, exhaustively researched book probes history's refusals... Rich in insight... Timely and essential as we confront, once again, the question of who is a citizen and who among us should enjoy its privileges.--Ayana Mathis - New York Times Book Review Powerful... Mr. Gorra demonstrates convincingly that this unshakable past for Faulkner came increasingly to involve race.... For Mr. Gorra, Faulkner's fiction should be read these days for 'the drama and struggle and paradox and power of his attempt to work through our history, to wrestle or rescue it into meaning.' Reading Faulkner today we discover just how much imagination and courage can be required to face the past.--Randall Fuller - Wall Street Journal As esteemed literary scholar Gorra informs us in this transcendent study, European audiences had long considered Faulkner one of the leading modernists . . . Gorra expertly mines his own deep reading of the Faulkner oeuvre to serve as our Virgil and guide us through an exploration of how the Civil War influenced Faulkner's work and how, in turn, Faulkner's writing helped shape modern literature. Gorra adroitly and poignantly portrays Faulkner at war with himself, juxtaposed and entwined with the history of a cleaved nation, to provide a compelling and necessary reexamination of a towering literary figure.--Bill Kelly, Booklist, starred review A magisterial, multidisciplinary study of Faulkner that shakes the dust off his canonization.--Kirkus Reviews [starred review] Michael Gorra is one of the finest critical minds at work in literature today, and this masterly reassessment of William Faulkner could not be more timely. Faulkner is a central figure in American fiction and, indeed, in American history, a voice as resonant in today's troubled world as it was in his own time. Gorra asks hard questions about the novelist and the man, and is unflinching in answering them. This is a momentous and thrilling book.--John Banville The Saddest Words confirms Michael Gorra's place as one of the most creative and readable literary critics working today. . . . Provocative and poignant, it delivers a rich, discomfiting sense of why the legacies of the war, and of Faulkner himself, remain such unsettled topics in our nation still.--Maya Jasanoff, author of The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World


Author Information

The author of Portrait of Novel, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Michael Gorra is the Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College and the editor of the Norton Critical Editions of As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury.

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