The Saddest Words: William Faulkner's Civil War (Paperback)
A “timely and essential” (New York Times Book Review) reconsideration of William Faulkner’s life and legacy that vitally asks, “How should we read Faulkner today?”
With this “rich, complex, and eloquent” (Drew Gilpin Faust, Atlantic) work, Pulitzer Prize finalist Michael Gorra charts the evolution of an author through his most cherished—and contested—novels. Given the undeniable echoes of “Lost Cause” romanticism in William Faulkner’s fiction, as well as his depiction of Black characters and Black speech, Gorra argues convincingly that Faulkner demands a sobering reevaluation. Upending previous critical traditions and interweaving biography, literary criticism, and rich travelogue, the widely acclaimed The Saddest Words recontextualizes Faulkner, revealing a civil war within him, while examining the most plangent cultural issues facing American literature today.
The author of Portrait of Novel, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Michael Gorra is the Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College and the editor of the Norton Critical Editions of As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury.