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Citizen Faulkner

If we wish to understand and profit from a great artist, the essential thing to grasp is his vision, as unfolded in his work.  Much less important is something that, unlike the God-given vision, he shares with all of us—his opinions.  Still, the opinions of a creative writer with the societal breadth and historical depth of Faulkner not only help us to understand his work better but are of intrinsic interest and significance.  Despite his own demurrer, Faulkner is worth knowing as man and citizen as well as writer.

It is safe to say that no one will ever fully understand Faulkner’s work—“where he was coming from,” as they say—who has not studied the public nonfiction writings here collected.  Professor Meriwether, the most important Faulkner scholar after the late Cleanth Brooks, presents a work of clear-minded, modest, persevering, and useful scholarship, which is exactly what his title declares it to be.  The first (1966) edition contained 39 Faulkner documents.  In the revised edition, Meriwether has increased the treasure to 63 items.  Here we can find everything from the Nobel Prize address to the (unsigned) inscription on the Lafayette County World War II memorial.  Here is Faulkner receiving awards, addressing students, commenting on local and national issues, and discoursing on such topics as the Kentucky Derby, ice hockey, and Japan.

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