william faulkner Quotes

William Faulkner Quotes

Birth Date: 1897-09-25 (Saturday, September 25th, 1897)
Date of Death: 1962-07-06 (Friday, July 6th, 1962)

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william faulkner life timeline

William Faulkner s collections of short stories, Go Down, Moses, is published.Monday, May 11th, 1942

Quotes

    • Poor man. Poor mankind.
    • Between grief and nothing I will take grief.
    • Be scared. You can't help that. But don't be afraid. Ain't nothing in the woods going to hurt you unless you corner it, or it smells that you are afraid. A bear or a deer, too, has got to be scared of a coward the same as a brave man has got to be.
    • 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 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, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.
    • I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny 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 poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.
    • The last sound on the worthless earth will be two human beings trying to launch a homemade spaceship and already quarreling about where they are going next.
    • When grown people speak of the innocence of children, they dont really know what they mean. Pressed, they will go a step further and say, Well, ignorance then. The child is neither. There is no crime which a boy of eleven had not envisaged long ago. His only innocence is, he may not be old enough to desire the fruits of it, which is not innocence but appetite; his ignorance is, he does not know how to commit it, which is not ignorance but size.
    • A gentleman can live through anything.
    • Why that's a hundred miles away. That's a long way to go just to eat.
    • It is my aim, and every effort bent, that the sum and history of my life, which in the same sentence is my obit and epitaph too, shall be them both: He made the books and he died.
    • The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life. Since man is mortal, the only immortality possible for him is to leave something behind him that is immortal since it will always move. This is the artist's way of scribbling 'Kilroy was here' on the wall of the final and irrevocable oblivion through which he must someday pass.
    • For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not yet two o'clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it's all in the balance, it hasn't happened yet, it hasn't even begun yet, it not only hasn't begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave yet it's going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn't need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose than all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago.
    • Then Ben wailed again, hopeless and prolonged. It was nothing. Just sound. It might have been all time and injustice and sorrow become vocal for an instant by a conjunction of planets.
    • Dilsey stroked Ben's head, slowly and steadily, smoothing the bang upon his brow. He wailed quietly, unhurriedly. 'Hush,' Dilsey said. 'Hush, now. We be gone in a minute. Hush, now.' He wailed quietly and steadily.
    • Because no battle is ever won, he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.
    • A man is the sum of his misfortunes. One day you'd think misfortune would get tired, but then time is your misfortune.
    • Clocks slay time. Time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.
    • Women do have an affinity for evil, for believing that no woman is to be trusted, but that some men are too innocent to protect themselves.
    • He had a word, too. Love, he called it. But I had been used to words for a long time. I knew that that word was like the others: just a shape to fill a lack; that when the right time came, you wouldn't need a word for that anymore than for pride or fear.
    • Sin and love and fear are just sounds that people who never sinned nor loved nor feared have for what they never had and cannot have until they forgot the words...
    • I can remember how when I was young I believed death to be a phenomenon of the body; now I know it to be merely a function of the mind-and that of the minds who suffer the bereavement. The nihilists say it is the end; the fundamentalists, the beginning; when in reality it is no more than a single tenant or family moving out of a tenement or a town.
    • My mother is a fish.
    • The past is never dead. It's not even past.
    • So vast, so limitless in capacity is man's imagination to disperse and burn away the rubble-dross of fact and probability, leaving only truth and dream.
    • Maybe the only thing worse than having to give gratitude constantly is having to accept it.
    • All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection. So I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible.
    • If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate: The 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' is worth any number of old ladies.
    • Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency : to get the book written.
    • The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life. Since man is mortal, the only immortality possible for him is to leave something behind him that is immortal since it will always move. This is the artist's way of scribbling 'Kilroy was here' on the wall of the final and irrevocable oblivion through which he must someday pass.
    • If I were reincarnated, I'd want to come back a buzzard. Nothing hates him or envies him or wants him or needs him. He is never bothered or in danger, and he can eat anything.
    • The best job that was ever offered to me was to become a landlord in a brothel. In my opinion it's the perfect milieu for an artist to work in.
    • You should approach Joyce's Ulysses as the illiterate Baptist preacher approaches the Old Testament: with faith.
    • An artist is a creature driven by demons. He don't know why they choose him and he's usually too busy to wonder why. He is completely amoral in that he will rob, borrow, beg, or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done.
    • A man's moral conscience is the curse he had to accept from the gods in order to gain from them the right to dream.
    • The artist doesn't have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don't have the time to read reviews.
    • My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whisky.
    • The artist is of no importance. Only what he creates is important, since there is nothing new to be said. Shakespeare, Balzac, Homer have all written about the same things, and if they had lived one thousand or two thousand years longer, the publishers wouldn't have needed anyone since.
    • One of the saddest things is that the only thing that a man can do for eight hours a day, day after day, is work. You can't eat eight hours a day nor drink for eight hours a day nor make love for eight hours-all you can do for eight hours is work. Which is the reason why man makes himself and everybody else so miserable and unhappy.
    • If we Americans are to survive it will have to be because we choose and elect and defend to be first of all Americans; to present to the world one homogeneous and unbroken front, whether of white Americans or black ones or purple or blue or green.... If we in America have reached that point in our desperate culture when we must murder children, no matter for what reason or what color, we don't deserve to survive, and probably won't.
    • If I had not existed, someone else would have written me, Hemingway, Dostoevsky, all of us.
    • People between twenty and forty are not sympathetic. The child has the capacity to do but it can't know. It only knows when it is no longer able to do-after forty. Between twenty and forty the will of the child to do gets stronger, more dangerous, but it has not begun to learn to know yet. Since his capacity to do is forced into channels of evil through environment and pressures, man is strong before he is moral. The world's anguish is caused by people between twenty and forty.
    • No one is without Christianity, if we agree on what we mean by that word. It is every individual's individual code of behavior by means of which he makes himself a better human being than his nature wants to be, if he followed his nature only. Whatever its symbol-cross or crescent or whatever-that symbol is man's reminder of his duty inside the human race.
    • There is something about jumping a horse over a fence, something that makes you feel good. Perhaps it's the risk, the gamble. In any event it's a thing I need.
    • Well, between Scotch and nothin', I suppose I'd take Scotch. It's the nearest thing to good moonshine I can find.
    • It wasn't until the Nobel Prize that they really thawed out. They couldn't understand my books, but they could understand $30,000.
    • A mule will labor ten years willingly and patiently for you, for the privilege of kicking you once.
    • A writer is congenitally unable to tell the truth and that is why we call what he writes fiction.
    • A writer must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid.
    • A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
    • Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
    • Facts and truth really don't have much to do with each other.
    • Hollywood is a place where a man can get stabbed in the back while climbing a ladder.
    • I love Virginians because Virginians are all snobs and I like snobs. A snob has to spend so much time being a snob that he has little time left to meddle with you.
    • I never know what I think about something until I read what I've written on it.
    • If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate: The 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' is worth any number of old ladies.
    • I'm trying to say it all in one sentence, between one cap and one period.
    • Landlord of a bordello! The company's good and the mornings are quiet, which is the best time to write.
    • Man performs and engenders so much more than he can or should have to bear. That's how he finds that he can bear anything.
    • People need trouble- a little frustration to sharpen the spirit on, toughen it. Artists do; I don't mean you need to live in a rat hole or gutter, but you have to learn fortitude, endurance. Only vegetables are happy.
    • Perhaps they were right in putting love into books... it could not live anywhere else.
    • Read, read, read. Read everything- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out the window.
    • The end of wisdom is to dream high enough to lose the dream in the seeking of it.
    • The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
    • The salvation of the world is in man's suffering.
    • This is a free country. Folks have a right to send me letters, and I have a right not to read them.
    • To live anywhere in the world today and be against equality because of race or color is like living in Alaska and being against snow.
    • To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi.
    • Civilization began with distillation.
    • Kill your darlings.
    • William Faulkner on the Web
    • William Faulkner's Nobel Prize Speech
    • William Faulkner at the official site of the Nobel Prizes
    • william faulkner

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