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The Saddest Words

William Faulkner's Civil War

Michael Gorra

$49.95

Hardback

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Liveright
25 August 2020
Should we still read William Faulkner in this new century? What can his works tell us about the legacy of slavery and the Civil War, that central quarrel in our nation's history? These are the provocative questions that Michael Gorra asks in this historic portrait of the novelist and his world. Born in 1897 in Mississippi, Faulkner wrote such iconic novels as Absalom, Absalom! and The Sound and the Fury, creating in Yoknapatawpha County the richest gallery of characters in American fiction, his achievements culminating in the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. But given his works' echo of Lost Cause romanticism, his depiction of black characters and black speech, and his rendering of race relations in a largely unreconstructed South, Faulkner demands a sobering reevaluation. Interweaving biography, absorbing literary criticism, and rich travelogue, The Saddest Words recontextualizes Faulkner, revealing a civil war within him, while examining the most plangent cultural issues facing American literature today.
By:   Michael Gorra
Imprint:   Liveright
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 244mm,  Width: 163mm,  Spine: 38mm
Weight:   686g
ISBN:   9781631491702
ISBN 10:   1631491709
Pages:   448
Publication Date:   25 August 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

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.

Reviews for The Saddest Words: William Faulkner's Civil War

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 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


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