64.8 F

Jay Mitchell: My Education on William Faulkner

By J.W. (Jay) Mitchell
Coldwater, MS
*This article was originally published in The Oxford SO & SO.

I’m not Faulkner and I am struggling to find the words to describe the transition that I went through. After my trip to Costa Rica, I began buying Faulkner books. I was running our antique store and had lots of free time to read. Nothing had ever changed: I still couldn’t understand his writing.

I would start one of his books and think that I had found one that made sense. I would think that I could relate with this story, but no, he would lose me. I would remember why I didn’t like him and his writings. “What Is Wrong With Me?” He is considered one of the greatest writers of all time. I would think, “God, I wish that I had gone to college so that I could comprehend his “greatness.”
I continued buying his books. I bought several first editions because I was an antique dealer. I didn’t think that I could lose money — some Faulkner nut would buy them and I could read and find out what was wrong with me. During the mid 1980s and for the next twenty-five years, I had been self-educating myself. My children were in college and I studied with them. They were exposed to Faulkner and didn’t think any better of him than I did. (No help there.
While attempting to make myself find an appreciation for good literature, I made an effort to read Homer, Dante, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Tolstoy and several others. Truth be told, I never finished any of these books. (Didn’t add James Joyce to this list because I wanted to single him out. Finnegan’s Wake brought me back to my senses; I obviously could appreciate good literature.) I remember thinking that good literature was stuff that you couldn’t understand. I did enjoy Mark Twain, Melville, Steinbeck and especially William Prescott. I wasn’t a complete redneck, but I just needed more work.
As stated earlier, I was writing during these years for my own enjoyment and to leave my stories for my grandchildren. I dreamed of writing a novel but knew my limitation. I could write a story about events and situations that I had experienced but could not create something new out of my mind. That is when Faulkner’s work began to motivate me. I began to realize that he didn’t create all of his material out of thin air. He was writing stories that he had heard or experienced in his home area.
I grew up in the same area and knew the same people that he wrote about. I did not realize that I would ever live long enough to develop his vocabulary and that my mind, (and no one else’s) could arrange the words as he did. I began to see his genius and came to appreciate him for the first time as a writer. I was going to read him even though I didn’t understand what he was trying to say.
I realize that I was one of the few people that ever had the privilege to have been in his presence. I didn’t know it at the time but I had a special moment the night that I was on a fox hunt with William Faulkner. 
EDITOR’S NOTE: Jay grew up as a child in Oxford, knowing Faulkner.

Most Popular

Recent Comments

scamasdscamith on News Watch Ole Miss
Frances Phillips on A Bigger, Better Student Union
Grace Hudditon on A Bigger, Better Student Union
Millie Johnston on A Bigger, Better Student Union
Binary options + Bitcoin = $ 1643 per week: https://8000-usd-per-day.blogspot.com.tr?b=46 on Beta Upsilon Chi: A Christian Brotherhood
Jay Mitchell on Reflections: The Square
Terry Wilcox SFCV USA RET on Oxford's Five Guys Announces Opening Date
Stephanie on Throwback Summer
organized religion is mans downfall on VP of Palmer Home Devotes Life to Finding Homes for Children
Paige Williams on Boyer: Best 10 Books of 2018
Keith mansel on Cleveland On Medgar Evans
Stonewall Jackson on