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William Faulkner’s
Essays, Speeches, and Public Letters

I decline to accept the end of man. . . . I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.
 
-----William Faulkner
       

William Faulkner was not particularly well-suited to public speaking. His short stature, his shy demeanor, quiet voice and deep Southern dialect all were factors which made it difficult at times for listeners to understand, or even to hear, what he was saying. Nevertheless, he sometimes struck gold, as his 1950 Nobel Prize speech demonstrates. A reluctant prize recipient, who tried to find good cause not to go to Sweden to accept the award, and a terrified speaker, his speech was initially unintelligible to those in attendance. It was only the next day, when the words of his speech were printed in the newspaper, that commentators would recognize the quality of his speech.

Faulkner did not write very many nonfiction essays, and those few that he did write often bore strong stylistic similarities to his fiction. In fact, he mingled fact and fiction in his most famous essay, “Mississippi.”

Many of Faulkner’s essays and other public nonfiction works were collected in Essays, Speeches, and Public Letters (New York: Random House, 1965), edited by James B. Meriwether. A revised edition of this book with additional material was published in 2004.

Essays

  • A Note on Sherwood Anderson   (1953)
  • Mississippi   (1954)
  • A Guest’s Impression of New England   (1954)
  • An Innocent at Rinkside   (1955)
  • Kentucky: May: Saturday   (1955)
  • On Privacy   (1955)
  • Impressions of Japan   (1955)
  • To the Youth of Japan   (1955)
  • Letter to a Northern Editor   (1956)
  • On Fear: Deep South in Labor: Mississippi   (1956)
  • A Letter to the Leaders in the Negro Race   (1956)
  • Albert Camus   (1961)

Speeches

  • Funeral Sermon for Mammy Caroline Barr   (1940)
  • Upon Receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature   (1950)    Text of Speech
  • To the Graduating Class, University High School   (1951)
  • Upon Being Made an Officer of the Legion of Honor   (1951)
  • To the Delta Council   (1952)
  • To the Graduating Class, Pine Manor Junior College   (1953)
  • Upon Receiving the National Book Award for Fiction   (1955)
  • To the Southern Historical Assocation   (1955)
  • Upon Receiving the Silver Medal of the Athens Academy   (1957)
  • To the American Academy of Arts and Letters in Presenting the Gold Medal for Fiction to John Dos Passos   (1957)
  • To the Raven, Jefferson, and ODK Societies of the University of Virginia   (1958)
  • To the English Club of the University of Virginia   (1958)
  • To the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO   (1959)
  • To the American Academy of Arts and Letters upon Acceptance of the Gold Medal for Fiction   (1962)

Introductions

  • Foreword to Sherwood Anderson & Other Famous Creoles   (1926)
  • Introduction to the Modern Library Edition of Sanctuary   (1932)
  • Foreword to The Faulkner Reader   (1954)

Book Reviews

  • The Road Back, by Erich Maria Remarque   (1931)
  • Test Pilot, by Jimmy Collins   (1935)
  • The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway   (1952)

Public Letters

  • To the Book Editor of the Chicago Tribune   (July 16, 1927)
  • To the President of the League of American Writers   (1938)
  • To the Editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal   (July 12, 1941)
  • “His Name Was Pete,” Oxford Eagle   (August 15, 1946)
  • To the Editor of the Oxford Eagle   (March 13, 1947)
  • To the Editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal   (March 26, 1950)
  • To the Editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal   (April 9, 1950)
  • To the Secretary of the American Academy of Arts and Letters   (June 12, 1950)
  • “To the Voters of Oxford”   (September 1950)
  • To the Editor of the Oxford Eagle   (September 14, 1950)
  • To the Editor of Time   (November 13, 1950)
  • Statement to the Press on the Willie Mcgee Case, Memphis Commercial Appeal   (March 27, 1951)
  • To the Editor of the New York Times   (December 26, 1954)
  • To the Editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal   (February 20, 1955)
  • To the Editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal   (March 20, 1955)
  • To the Editor of the New York Times   (March 25, 1955)
  • To the Editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal   (April 3, 1955)
  • To the Editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal   (April 10, 1955)
  • To the Editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal   (April 17, 1955)
  • Press Dispatch on the Emmett Till Case   (September 9, 1955)
  • To the Editor of Life   (March 26, 1956)
  • To the Editor of the Reporter   (April 19, 1956)
  • To the Editor of Time   (April 23, 1956)
  • To the Editor of Time   (December 10, 1956)
  • To the Editor of the New York Times   (December 16, 1956)
  • To the Editor of Time   (February 11, 1957)
  • To the Editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal   (September 15, 1957)
  • To the Editor of the New York Times   (October 13, 1957)
  • Notice, Oxford Eagle   (September 24, 1959)
  • “Notice,” Oxford Eagle   (October 15, 1959)
  • To the Editor of the New York Times   (August 28, 1960)

 

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Essays, Speeches & Public LettersEssays, Speeches & Public Letters

Edited by James B. Meriwether

First published in 1965

2nd edition with additional material

Modern Library, 2004

ISBN: 081297137X

New Orleans SketchesNew Orleans Sketches

Edited by Carvel Collins

First published in 1958

Reprint edition

University Press of Mississippi, 2002

ISBN: 1578064716

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How to cite this page (MLA style):

Padgett, John B. “William Faulkner’s Essays, Speeches, and Public Letters.” William Faulkner on the Web. 17 August 2006. 24 October 2014 <http://www.mcsr.olemiss.edu/~egjbp/faulkner/lib_essays.html>.

This page was last modified on Thursday, August 17, 2006, at 03:19 PM CDT.
Copyright © 1995 – 2006 by John B. Padgett.
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