One of America’s greatest writers, William Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949. A prolific writer, he published through five decades, from the 1920’s into the 1960’s. Faulkner’s major subject matter was the complicated history of the American South, and his fiction deals with it with humor, irony, and sympathy. Fifteen of his twenty novels are set in Yoknapatawpha County, a fictionalized version of the land around Oxford, Mississippi, where Faulkner lived. His novels and short stories reverberate so that it is not only the South or the United States about which Faulkner writes but also all people concerned with what he called in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech the “old verities and truths of the heart . . . courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice.”
Faulkner’s tenth novel, The Unvanquished, is set in Yoknapatawpha County and deals with the Civil War and Reconstruction. The novel comprises seven titled chapters, six of which were published in magazines as independent stories before being revised for publication in the novel. The last chapter, “An Odor of Verbena,” was written specifically for the novel. Although the same themes, setting, characters, and some stylistic devices of this novel appear in other Faulkner works, The Unvanquished highlights adventure, sacrificing some of the complexity of Faulkner’s greater novels.
The style of The...
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