because it sounds like some vague literary term, or a pernicious disease

His Hour Upon The Stage

with 3 comments

I like to know things about people who write the books I read. I like to know things about people in general, but I particularly like to know things about writers. I like to picture the writer at his desk, hunched over and hunting and pecking at a typewriter, clicking out lovely things. So, I google. I used to go old school and visit the library, then I discovered this thing called the internet, now I research from bed, often without pants on.

Even though I can’t say that I especially enjoyed The Sound and The Fury, I found my curiosity piqued about the man who wrote it.

For the sake of not blogging about things that are boring and can easily found elsewhere, I thought it best to focus on the parts of William Faulkner’s life that most interested me. Mainly, his love life.  I often wonder if what authors write about is largely shaped by what happens in their own lives. I like to entertain thoughts of loves lost and roads not taken being explored in their craft and played out on the printed page. Writing stories with endings that are happy or tragic, depending on how the writer reflects on those very individuals or defining moments.

William Faulkner lived, for all intents and purposes as the leading man in his own soap opera. In love with a woman who had married someone else first, Faulkner waited ten years for his chance with his teenaged sweetheart. They were married when her first marriage fell apart. A true romantic, that didn’t stop him from conducting several extra-marital affairs, many which lasted several years.

There are some imaginative types that will tell you that to be able to create something, to write, or to paint,or to act, that you have to be able to fall in love with anything that crosses your path, be it for ten minutes or for ten years. Faulkner strikes me as the sort that worked like that, photos of him even now carry a certain weight, the portrait of the artist as an amorous poet. Despite his extra curricular activities outside the marriage bed and a heavy dependancy on alcohol, his relationship with his wife endured until the time of his death.

Faulkner, in addition to his dalliances had a generous tendency towards alcoholism. He claimed to not be able to face the blank page without a bottle of Jack Daniels. He felt, and stated several times that the drink helped him fuel his process. Others, upon speculation would suggest that it was a method of escape from the doldrums of daily life. Faulkner faced several financial woes up until his commercial success and subsequent Noble Peace Prize, and may have found some deliverance at the bottom of a bottle.

There is a picture of William Faulkner where he is seen lounging in the sun, smoking a pipe. Both elbows are casually propped on the arms of his beach chair, his typewriter before him. Here he looks very much a man not at all aware of the way his works would shape others, here he looks like a man that wrote for himself, for the joy of seeing the words spread out on the page before him.


Written by Lindsey

March 2, 2010 at 10:22 am

3 Responses

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  1. Faulkner never wore pants either!


    March 2, 2010 at 10:21 pm

  2. I try avoid reading about writers’ personal lives (though I always find it fascinating when I do). Don’t wanna be influenced. So many writers are alcoholics, which is probably not a good lead to follow (personally I can barely type a text message when I’m drunk).

    Falling in love too frequently, though? That I can relate with it. Which I guess isn’t all that different than getting drunk too frequently.


    March 3, 2010 at 9:51 am

  3. I do this for musicians and I blame that on Wikipedia making it so damn easy and my boring job for making it so damn appealing.

    To that point, Faulkner’s love tale isn’t entirely unlike Eric Clapton’s, although he probably wasn’t poor.

    As for the drinking to face the blank page… I haven’t tried that, hell that might actually work for me, although every time I drink JD I become an obnoxious A-hole. Ok, MORE of an obnoxious A-hole.


    April 23, 2010 at 11:27 am

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