A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history's most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors' American Legends series, listeners can get caught up to speed on the lives of America's most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.
With the notable exception of Mark Twain, whose roots along the Mississippi River factored so thoroughly into his life story and his literature, America's greatest writers have rarely been categorized by or associated with a specific region of the country. And among America's greatest 20th century writers, many have been identified with a specific era, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and the 1920s, or even as part of a community of expatriates, like Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein.
William Faulkner is an exception to that rule, and a prolific and influential one at that. The reclusive Southerner, who died about 40 miles away from his birthplace in New Albany, Mississippi, was associated with the South as a region and Southern literature in particular throughout his career, at least when he was associated with anything at all. Faulkner toiled in relative obscurity for much of his life, and it was only after he earned a Nobel Prize in 1949 that he truly entered the national radar. He later joked about his own neighbors, "Some folks wouldn't even speak when they passed me on the street...it wasn't until the Nobel Prize that they really thawed out