William Faulkner Quotes

William Cuthbert Faulkner, 1897 – 1962

Born: 25 September 1897, New Albany, Mississippi
Died: 6 July 1962, Byhalia, Mississippi

Born William Cuthbert Falkner, the family moved to Oxford, Mississippi when William was five. He took to both oil painting and poetry at an early age but gave up on visual art in sixth grade, turning to prose and modeling his work on the Romantic era of English literature. He grew up listening to the stories and the dialog of his large extended family, he called the community he grew up in his “postage stamp”. Too short to be accepted for military service in the US, he went to Canada to join the British Royal Flaying Corps (adding the “U” to his surname in the process), training in both Canada and Britain, but leaving at the end of the war without seeing action. This did not prevent him from acquiring the uniform of a lieutenant, a rank he never reached, and posing in it at home in Mississippi. In 1919 he started at the University of Mississippi, completing three semesters before dropping out. He wrote twenty novels, 150 short stories, and six volumes of poetry, largely based on the lives and stories of the people around him. Some of them didn’t enjoy being displayed for the world to enjoy, but the world enjoyed the telling. He won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1949 and picked up two Pulitzers. Today’s quotes are Faulkner on writing. He had a lifelong problem with alcohol, but rather than nurse a bottle while writing he tended to binge after a project was over. He served as the first Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville for several months in 1947. An avid rider, he suffered several injuries in the last few years of his life, checking himself into Wright’s Sanitarium after the last of them. It was there that he had his fatal heart attack.

William Faulkner quotes:

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
    William Faulkner

A fellow is more afraid of the trouble he might have than he ever is of the trouble he’s already got. He’ll cling to trouble he’s used to before he’ll risk a change.
    William Faulkner – Light in August (1932)

A gentleman can live through anything.
    William Faulkner – The Reivers (1962)

A man is the sum of his misfortunes. One day you’d think misfortune would get tired, but then time is your misfortune.
    William Faulkner – The Sound and the Fury (1929)

A man’s moral conscience is the curse he had to accept from the gods in order to gain from them the right to dream.
    William Faulkner

A man. All men. He will pass up a hundred chances to do good for one chance to meddle where meddling is not wanted. He will overlook and fail to see chances, opportunities, for riches and fame and welldoing, and even sometimes for evil. But he won’t fail to see a chance to meddle.
    William Faulkner – Light in August (1932)

A mule will labor ten years willingly and patiently for you, for the privilege of kicking you once.
    William Faulkner

A writer is congenitally unable to tell the truth and that is why we call what he writes fiction.
    William Faulkner

A writer is trying to create believable people in credible moving situations in the most moving way he can.
    William Faulkner – Interview with Jean Stein vanden Heuvel in Paris Review (Spring 1956)

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination—any two of which, at times any one of which—can supply the lack of the others.
    William Faulkner – Interview with Jean Stein vanden Heuvel in Paris Review (Spring 1956)

All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection. So I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible.
    William Faulkner – Interview with Jean Stein vanden Heuvel in Paris Review (Spring 1956)

Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
    William Faulkner – Interview with Jean Stein vanden Heuvel in Paris Review (Spring 1956)

An artist is a creature driven by demons. He doesn’t know why they choose him and he’s usually too busy to wonder why.
    William Faulkner

An artist is completely amoral in that he will rob, beg, borrow, or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done.
    William Faulkner

And when I think about that, I think that if nothing but being married will help a man, he’s durn nigh hopeless.
    William Faulkner – As I Lay Dying (1930)

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