By venturing to the highest floor of the Hatcher Graduate Library, you can find the Special Collections Library showcasing an alternate look at the literary icon William Faulkner. When reading Faulkner’s celebrated novels, it is easy to overlook the progression of his works over the years. “William Faulkner’s Artifacts of Authorships,” currently on exhibit at Hatcher, highlights the evolution of his writings, and explores the development of Faulkner’s characters and the works he created.
William Faulkner’s Artifacts of Authorships
Through Oct. 15
Hatcher Graduate Library
Several glass cases are scattered throughout the room, holding rare copies of his short stories and novels. A poster outside explains the exhibit’s focus on how “inconsistency and idiosyncrasy” can help us to understand Faulkner.
Instead of focusing on his works as completed novels, the collection is centered on the progress of his works. Many of the novels Faulkner would later write were based on the short stories he wrote as a young man. The exhibit displays several magazines in which these stories appeared, putting a new perspective on Faulkner’s early works and providing a sense of his cultural times.
“They are fairly rare because magazines are hard to take care of and most people throw them out,” said Aaron McCollough, librarian of the special collections for English and comparative literature.
McCollough expressed one of the advantages of putting the magazines on display.
“You can look at the first edition and compare it to the second edition and see significant changes between them, something you cannot usually do in a regular library setting,” he said.
The brief descriptions in each display case draw attention to Faulkner’s writings that have evolved over time. For example, his original short story, “Sanctuary,” is much more vehement and grim than the novel of the same name it later became. There’s also a reference to Faulkner’s intention to remove the preface from later editions in order to make the older prints more valuable.
The exhibit also highlights how Faulkner received a disappointing rejection from a publisher early in his career. Instead of distressing over the publisher’s opinions, he started writing for himself. This led to one of his most successful works, “The Sound and the Fury.”
An interesting feature to the showroom are the two maps of the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, where many of Faulkner’s stories took place. This county corresponds to Faulkner’s native Lafayette County in northern Mississippi and reflects a realistic image of southern life and stigmas at this time.
This exhibit not only presents Faulkner as a novelist, but it also displays his involvement in reshaping screenplays and dabbling in art. He made many drawings for the University of Mississippi yearbooks and he created a successful screenplay from Hemingway’s novel, “To Have and Have Not.”
From the many editions of his novels to even his name (originally Falkner), this exhibit emphasizes the progression of Faulkner and his works over time. Don’t get discouraged over your next essay; take pride that you are following in Faulkner’s footsteps.