Tales From the South: Philip Weinstein Explores the “Emotional Intensity” of William Faulkner’s Works

Phillip Weinstein
Phillip Weinstein

A prolific author of dozens of books, including Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, and Absalom, Absalom, William Faulkner (1897-1962) was one of the 20th century's most preeminent American writers. His literary contributions included poetry, novels, short stories and screenplays. He won two Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction and the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Philip Weinstein is Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor of English at Swarthmore College.  He teaches seminars in Modern Comparative Literature, as well as in American and British fiction. Many of his courses and publications focus on William Faulkner, along with other literary greats.

Q: You’ve written about William Faulkner in several books, and even edited the Cambridge Companion to Faulkner. What first got you interested in tackling Faulkner’s life and work?

A: My initial interest in Faulkner was driven by three key dimensions of his writing: his emotional intensity, his formal intricacy, and his abiding concern (shared by none of his fellow white novelists) with the fate of Southern blacks. I come from the South, some 43 years later than Faulkner. Our region has an overwhelming racial debt to pay, and Faulkner's attempt to pay it in his own way--as a writer--moves me greatly.

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