Tag Archives: William Faulkner

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

I finished reading William Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun this evening. I was reading it partly because I’m teaching it’s prequel, Sanctuary, this semester, but also because I am fond of the famous quote from it about the past not being past, and wanted to learn more about its context. I had always thought the quote was “We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us. In fact, it is not even past.” However, the quote is actually “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” It turns out that the version I had in my head is a misquotation of Faulkner from one of my favorite films, Magnolia. I am sad that the film’s version is incorrect because, even though both make the excellent point that the past constantly affects the present (especially in Faulkner’s work, where the Civil War always happened yesterday), the longer version depicts the past as a foreboding presence, always gaining on us as we try to escape it, which seems fitting for Faulkner’s writing.

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Books Acquired Recently

Faulkner, William. Requiem for a Nun. 1951. New York: Vintage, 2011.

I am teaching Faulkner’s Sanctuary in an independent study this semester, and bought its sequel Requiem to read as part of my preparation.  Reading Faulkner is a guilty pleasure–his writing is beautiful, and he is an essential figure in the development of American literature, but for some reason his personal despicableness bothers me more than any other writer’s aside from Ezra Pound’s. I certainly believe in judging a book based on its artistic merits rather than on its author’s biography, but Faulkner’s statement that he would shoot African Americans down in the street if ordered to do so by Mississippi’s governor is difficult to get past.

Bought on amazon.com.

Poore, Michael. Up Jumps the Devil. New York: Ecco, 2012.

I received this book in my school mailbox today, presumably as an (unasked for) exam copy from the publisher as there was no note with it, so I doubt it is from a colleague. The secretaries usually open mail that isn’t obviously personal (which is weird because I feel bad having someone do a task for me that I could easily do myself, especially one that tends to be enjoyable. I, like Virginia Woolf with her servants, feel tremendously awkward around secretaries. I am uncomfortable with the power imbalance, it makes me feel bourgeois.), so I did not get a chance to see the return address. The novel, Poore’s first, sounds like it could be interesting, but it is not something that I would have bought myself, so who knows when I’ll get around to reading it.

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