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Faulkner and FormalismReturns of the Text$
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Annette Trefzer and Ann J. Abadie

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781617032561

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617032561.001.0001

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“In Conflict with Itself”

“In Conflict with Itself”

The Nobel Prize Address in Faulknerian Contexts

(p.20) “In Conflict with Itself”
Faulkner and Formalism

James B. Carothers

University Press of Mississippi

By the time William Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950, critics who initially could not understand his textual experiments had hit their stride. This chapter argues that critics then and now have often cast doubt at Faulkner’s optimism and faith in the endeavor of humanity that he expressed in his acceptance speech. It examines the ostensible irony and possible cynicism in Faulkner’s later works, including Go Down, Moses (1942) and A Fable (1950), in light of the affirmative outlook of his Nobel Prize address. The chapter analyzes the biographical and literary historical contexts of the speech, suggesting that Faulkner sincerely holds the beliefs that he expresses, and also emphasizes an important point: that Faulkner, the man, must be separated from Faulkner, the author. Finally, it discusses how the text of Faulkner’s famous speech, particularly the enunciation and the language itself, displaces him and opens up a rich network of intertextuality between his speech and his novels.

Keywords:   speech, William Faulkner, Nobel Prize, irony, cynicism, Go Down, Moses, A Fable, intertextuality, novels

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