Carl RollysonDec 1, 2020
The Life of William Faulkner
This Alarming Paradox, 1935-1962
University of Virginia Press 2020
By 1935 William Faulkner was well established as an author of critically praised novels, yet the low volume of his sales forced him to seek work in Hollywood. As Carl Rollyson details in The Life of William Faulkner: This Alarming Paradox, 1935-1962 (University of Virginia Press, 2020), this led to an itinerant life divided between Mississippi and Hollywood. Rollyson shows how his encounters with the politicized writers and European refugees who populated the film industry helped broaden his outlook, which was reflected in the injection of anti-fascist elements into his scripts and novels. By the end of the Second World War, Faulkner enjoyed a growing international status that culminated with receiving the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950, which cemented his place at the forefront of American literature. Though a reluctant celebrity, Faulkner embraced his status by becoming an informal ambassador of American values abroad, while using his position as an unofficial spokesperson of the South to criticize the mistreatment of Blacks in the region and call for improvements in race relations.