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Joseph Blotner

Joseph Blotner (1923-2012) wrote, edited, and contributed to a dozen books on William Faulkner, as well as a study of J. D. Salinger and another on the American political novel. As an associate professor in the department of English at the University of Virginia, Blotner helped bring William Faulkner to the university as a writer-in-residence in 1957.


Once More: the Actual and the Apocryphal

Autumn 2002 | Criticism

Some of William Faulkner's remarks about his work are now almost as famous as some phrases in the work itself. He quoted Sherwood Anderson's advice to him in New Orleans that he should go home and write about what he knew, that patch of north Mississippi where he grew up. As he meditated on it he discovered that "my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it, and by sublimating the actual into the apocryphal I would have complete liberty to use whatever talent I might have to its absolute top, so I created a cosmos of my own." It took many readers years to realize that his apocryphal Yoknapatawpha was basic to most of his best work. One of the earliest studies was Ward L. Miner's The World of William Faulkner (1952). Forty years later came Joel Williamson's William Faulkner and Southern History. Others have continued to explore various aspects of Faulkner's art both narrowly and broadly. Now comes Don H. Doyle with a compendious study of the sources from which this artistic vision sprang, presenting Faulkner's county in root and branch from the seeds in early stories to the final flowering in the last novels.


Mr. Faulkner: Writer-In-Residence

Spring 2001 | Essays

It was just as well, for Fred Gwynn and me and our hopes for the University of Virginia's Writer-in-Residence Program in 1955, that our memories of Charlottesville did not stretch back more than a few years. Others recalled a signal event in its cultural life more than two decades before. Ellen Glasgow, Virginia novelist and literary grande dame, felt that Southern writers like herself living in New York were kept from seeing each other by their isolation and the bustle of metropolitan life. She proposed to UVa. English Department head James Southall Wilson a gathering of 20 or 30 leading writers in some pleasant place where they could talk with each other. The president of the university endorsed the idea, and the resulting committee invited 34, including Thomas Wolfe, James Branch Cabell, and William Faulkner. Against his inclination and better judgment, Faulkner made one of the number on Oct. 23, 1931, eagerly awaited because of the publicity that had greeted his sensational novel Sanctuary.