March 21, 2004

What plays did William Faulkner see? What did he read? I hadn't exactly been wondering, but this article by Javier MarĂ­as in Threepenny Review (linked by A&L Daily) has some answers:
Faulkner was a taciturn man who loved silence, and he had only been to the theater five times in his entire life: he had seen Hamlet three times, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Ben Hur, and that was all. He had not read Freud, either, at least so he said on one occasion: "I have never read him. Neither did Shakespeare. I doubt if Melville did either and I'm sure Moby Dick didn't." He read Don Quixote every year.
Ah! I love silence too. And I've been meaning to read Don Quixote ... there's that new translation ...

I liked this part of the article too, about how he lost his job as a post office clerk at the University of Mississippi:
Apparently one of the lecturers there, quite reasonably, complained: the only way he could get his mail was by rummaging around in the rubbish bin at the back door, where the unopened bags of post all too often ended up. Faulkner did not like having his reading interrupted, and the sale of stamps fell alarmingly; by way of explanation, Faulkner told his family that he was not prepared to keep getting up to wait on people at the window and having to be beholden to any son-of-a-bitch who had the two cents to buy a stamp.

Sounds like Newman on Seinfeld ("The Andrea Doria"). I'd watch a sitcom about this Faulkner character. And don't just tell me to watch Barton Fink--Joel Coel is on record saying the John Mahoney character isn't much like Faulkner.

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