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Sun Nov 25, 2012, 07:54 AM

Ragged, Unkempt, Strange: On William Faulkner

http://www.thenation.com/article/171395/ragged-unkempt-strange-william-faulkner

One morning in the late spring of 1962, William Faulkner rode his horse Stonewall across his property, following a bridle path through a forested area known as Bailey’s Woods. When he reached the clearing containing the ruins of the family’s abandoned ice plant, he turned back toward home. But according to the story Joseph Blotner recounts in his biography of Faulkner, Stonewall—known to be a skittish, intractable horse—was suddenly spooked by something and bucked, throwing his rider into the dirt.

As Blotner reports it, Stonewall returned to Faulkner and nuzzled him. It seems that the horse felt some remorse, albeit short-lived. Faulkner tried to grab the reins, but Stonewall moved out of reach and disappeared down the bridle path, leaving the writer to limp toward home on his own.

He found Stonewall waiting for him back at Rowan Oak, his estate in Oxford, Mississippi. Though he was in severe pain, Faulkner climbed into the saddle for the second time that day and rode over a course of jumps. When a doctor later told him that he could have killed himself getting back on the horse, Faulkner replied, “You don’t think I’d let that damned horse conquer me, do you?… I had to conquer him.”

Faulkner was no stranger to unruly horses, and he’d taken several dangerous falls in his life. But he was 64, and this fall from Stonewall left him with back pain that wouldn’t relent. By early July, the pain had become so severe that he checked into Wright’s Sanitarium, in Byhalia, Mississippi. Later that same night he awoke, sat up on the side of his bed, gave a groan and collapsed. It was shortly after midnight, July 6, 1962, and William Faulkner, one of the twentieth century’s most crucial authors, was dead.

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Reply Ragged, Unkempt, Strange: On William Faulkner (Original post)
xchrom Nov 2012 OP
morningfog Nov 2012 #1
morningglory Nov 2012 #2
morningfog Nov 2012 #3
morningglory Nov 2012 #5
sofa king Nov 2012 #4

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 08:12 AM

1. Thanks for posting. I have just recently begun my love affair with Faulkner.

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Response to morningfog (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 09:26 AM

2. The Hamlet, The Town, The Mansion: a trilogy that has a story in the

middle that will have you rolling around on the floor, gasping for breath, laughing your head off.

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Response to morningglory (Reply #2)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 10:51 AM

3. I just started The Sound and the Fury.

Light in August next, then I will tackle the trilogy. I don't think I could tire of Faulkner.

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Response to morningfog (Reply #3)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 05:53 PM

5. He is one of the world's great writers. Always a good read.

The story that was so funny is called "spotted ponies".

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 11:35 AM

4. My old man has some funny stories about him.

For a couple of years, Faulkner lived on the campus of UVa, or at least had an office next door to my father's fraternity. According to the old man, he would duck in to the house occasionally (for a nip, perhaps?), and watched the frat boys living their hedonistic lives with an unusual fascination. He always had a little white terrier in tow. It would appear that on some occasions, he hid out in the frat house to avoid the people who would never suspect him of hiding in such a place. He loved watching football and he and his terrier could be seen along the sidelines of any game, scheduled or pick-up.

I'll have to ask Dad if Faulkner's dog ever mixed it up with Seal II, the unofficial successor to the famous drunken mascot dog who was known nationwide for peeing on the visiting team's megaphones at halftime. The two sort-of celebrity dogs were there at just about the same time.

Faulkner would sit down with the boys and read selections from his novels. If you'd like to try to read Faulkner the way he supposedly read it out loud, Dad taught me: bluster through each paragraph quickly and almost without pause between sentences, "stream of consciousness" style, breaking only between paragraphs.

Yet for all that, I never really sat down and read any of his work purely for pleasure. Maybe I will.

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