New book: Becoming Faulkner: The Art and Life of William Faulkner, by Philip Weinstein ’62 (Oxford University Press)
The author: A leading authority on Southern writer William Faulkner (who penned such novels as The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, and Absalom, Absalom!), Weinstein has written three other books either centered on Faulkner or featuring him, including Faulkner’s Subject: A Cosmos No One Owns (1992) and What Else But Love? The Ordeal of Race in Faulkner and Morrison (1996). Weinstein is an English professor at Swarthmore College.
The book: Faulkner would not have wanted his life put under the microscope. He once rebuked his biographer Malcolm Cowley by writing, “It is my aim, and every effort bent, that the sum and history of my life … shall be … He made the books and he died.” Weinstein pays that sentiment no matter as his biography explores the relationship between the writer’s troubled life and the problems Faulkner conveyed in his fiction. Weinstein examines his failed elopement with and later broken marriage to Estelle Oldham, his bouts with depression and alcoholism, and the effects his great-grandfather — a Civil War hero who may have fathered a child with a black slave — had on the writer, who fabricated heroic service in World War I and opposed the civil rights movement.