A Rose for Emily Critical Overview
by William Faulkner

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Critical Overview

(Short Stories for Students)

A 19th century print of roses, showing various stages of bloom. Published by Gale Cengage

Faulkner is now regarded by most critics as one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century. However, ‘‘A Rose for Emily,’’ written in 1929, was actually rejected by Scribner’s and other magazines before Forum published it in 1930. Although one of his greatest novels, The Sound and the Fury, was published just before ‘‘A Rose for Emily’’ in 1929, many American critics did not immediately recognize Faulkner as a ground-breaking writer. As is often the case with many challenging American authors, Faulkner was identified as a unique American voice in Europe long before he gained respect at home. In fact, as late as 1950, after he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the New York Times (quoted in Robert Penn Warren’s introduction to Faulkner: A Collection of Critical Essays) published an editorial claiming that his work was ‘‘too often vicious, depraved, decadent, [and] corrupt.’’ ‘‘Americans most fervently hope,’’ the Times continued, that neither the award given by Sweden nor the ‘‘enormous vogue of Faulkner’s works’’ among foreigners meant that they associated American life with his fiction.

Interestingly enough, it is in the New York Times twenty years earlier that one can read an extremely favorable review of These 13, the first collection of Faulkner’s short stories. ‘‘A Rose for Emily’’ is published in this edition. The reviewer notes that Faulkner was ‘‘hailed in England, before he was known here except to a small circle, as the latest star in the American literary firmament.’’ He writes that ‘‘A Rose for Emily’’ is ‘‘one of the strongest, as it is certainly the most gruesome, tales in the volume.’’ The story was also published in Collected Stories in 1950. The reviews for this...

(The entire section is 431 words.)