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Reading Faulkner's Best Short Stories

Hans H. Skei

The short-story achievements of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist

A Nobel Prize-winning chronicler of the South, William Faulkner is best known for his novels The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Sanctuary, and Light in August. But his achievements in the development of the novel are closely related to his often-neglected contributions to the short-story form; his best short fiction shows the master storyteller's command of "old tales and talking" and often concentrates on material later developed in novels. Faulkner's searching curiosity and his willingness to try repeatedly to improve a story, to find the right angle in order to catch the exact atmosphere, led to the creation of one of the most impressive bodies of short fiction in American literature.

Reading Faulkner's Best Short Stories provides readers with an introduction to Faulkner as a short-story writer and offers close readings of twelve short stories representative of his most successful achievements within the genre. Dividing the study into two main parts, Hans H. Skei first concentrates on the writer's short-story career-describing the circumstances surrounding the stories' composition, revision, publication, and collection-and outlines scholarly studies of the body of his short fiction. Skei also emphasizes Faulkner's contributions to the short-story genre and explains the principles governing the selection of the short stories examined in this volume. Skei then turns to an analysis of the individual stories in terms of Faulkner's mastery of the form. Each chapter contains extensive textual information and publication history accompanied by brief comments on the story's place in the Faulkner canon and its relation to other works.

Even though Faulkner's work in the short-story genre is by definition not as polyphonic and dialogic as his novels, Faulkner was a major practitioner of the short-story form. His short fiction gives a vivid and diverse impression of his writing, fictional world, and limitless search for insight into human nature.

Hans H. Skei is a professor of comparative literature at the University of Oslo in Norway. He is the author of William Faulkner: The Short Story Career and William Faulkner: The Novelist as Short Story Writer as well as the editor of William Faulkner's Short Fiction: An International Symposium.

"Since the fiction Skei discusses is available in many pedagogical and trade texts, this study should prove really useful for a wide range of intelligent readers."—Choice



book jacket for Reading Faulkner's Best Short Stories


6 x 9
288 pages
ISBN 978-1-57003-286-8
hardcover, $39.95s

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