On the way home from a family Christmas vacation, we had the opportunity to stop in Oxford, Mississippi, and visit William Faulkner’s home. It’s just twenty minutes east of Highway 55 and a little south of Memphis.
I have read Faulkner’s Light in August (1932) and some of his stories, and enjoyed those, but when I tried to read more of his work, I got stuck. I found him difficult. And I was an English major!
I am inspired now, though, to try again. It’s because of the visit to his house in Oxford. Called Rowan Oak, it’s a two-story southern home, with pillars and a balcony in front. It’s in a wooded area, with cedar and magnolia trees. For five dollars you can tour the inside of the house, which is also a museum, managed by the University of Mississippi. It’s inspiring to see the rooms where Faulkner lived with his family and wrote. His study with small typewriter table has the notes to his Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel A Fable (1954), handwritten and stuck on the wall.
It’s a charming house. You can see how it could be a good place to write. I found inspiration there both as a writer and a reader, in the quotes displayed in the hallway of the house, with other Faulkner memorabilia.
I want to share a few of the quotes that inspired me-to keep writing, and to make another try at reading Faulkner:
Advice for writers
” Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
Writing to Write
“It was 1923 and I wrote a book and discovered that my doom, fate, was to keep on writing books: not for any exterior or ulterior purpose: just writing the books for the sake of writing the books.”
–Foreword, The Faulkner Reader , 1953
Solitude “Writing is a solitary job–that is, no one can help you with it, but there’s nothing lonely about it. I have always been too busy, too immersed in what I was doing, either mad at it or laughing at it to have time to wonder whether I was lonely or not lonely. It’s simply solitary. I think there is a difference between loneliness and solitude.”
What I Couldn’t Read in College, I Want to Read Now: As I Lay Dying (1930) “ Before us the thick dark current runs. It talks up to us in a murmur become ceaseless and myriad, the yellow surface dimpled monstrously into fading swirls traveling along the surface for an instant, silent, impermanent and profoundly significant, as though just beneath the surface something huge and alive waked for a moment of lazy alertness out of and into light slumber again… “
” It is my aim, and every effort bent, that the sum and history of my life, which in the same sentence is my obit and epitaph too, shall be them both: he made the books, and he died.”