What message is William Faulker trying to relay to the young writers in his speech "On Receiving the Nobel Prize"?
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When Faulkner presented his speech in 1950, much of the civilized world was involved in the Cold War, and all were living in a nuclear world. Children regularly participated in bomb/air raid drills in school; people in much of Europe and the Soviet Union could not travel freely, and most wondered what new conflict the next day would bring. Because of this stark reality, Faulkner claims that writers have become too focused on all of these external conflicts and that they no longer write about universal truths; they had forgotten about "the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself."
Faulkner uses his Nobel Prize platform to express the power that writers possess. In his view, they don't simply remind mankind of its past glories and goodness; rather, they should use the pen to be a pillar of sorts for man to prop himself up on and endure. Thus, Faulkner wants young writers to avoid the temptation to write only of the "end of man" or the dark, current times in which they were living--to avoid being mere recorders.
In my mind, the overwhelming message Faulkner gives to young writers is to remain true in depicting the human predicament. The idea that within this condition is a notion of suffering and endurance is something that Faulkner, himself, believed and about which wrote extensively. It is also something that he believes must be the underlying essence of all literature. In depicting what it means to be human, Faulkner implores young writers to continue to write and articulate this condition where suffering on the part of human beings leads to eventual triumph through perseverance and endurance. It is a powerful message to young writers, who might be lured by material success to write about trivialities and elements that do not speak to what it means to be human and the writer's obligation to speak about such a condition.
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