Brief introduction to the speaker:
William Faulkner (1897-1962) The novels of William Faulkner rank among the most important books of the 20th century. For them Faulkner was awarded the 1949 Nobel prize in Literature. Faulkner wrote mostly about his hometown of Oxford, in Lafayette County. Miss.. After two apprentice novels, Faulkner wrote six of his best books between 1929 and 1932, among them are The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, and Sanctuary.
I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work, a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit. Not for glory and least of all, for profit, but to create out of the material of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It would not
be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it, commensurate for the purpose and significance of its origin. But I wou1d 1ike to do the same with the acclaim too by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and woman, already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will someday stand here where I am standing.
Our tragedy today is a general and universal physica1 fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it There’re no longer problems of the spirit, there’s only the question; "When will I be blown up?". Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself, which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.
He must learn them again, he must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid, and teaching himself that, forget it forever leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart. The old universal truths, lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed: love and honor and pity and pride, and compassion and sacrifice.
Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love, but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope, and most of all, without pity or compassion. His grief weaves on no universal bone, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart, but of the glands. Until he re1earns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of mall. I dec1ine to accept the end of man. It’s easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure, that from the last. ding-dong of doom and clang had faded from the last worthless rock hanging tireless in the last red and dying evening, that even then, there will be one more sound, that of his puny and inexhaustible voice still talking. I refuse to accept this, 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. The poets, the writers’ duty is to write about these things, it’s his privilege to help man endure, lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage, and honor and hope and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poets’ voice need not merely be the recall of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.