New online recordings of William Faulkner discussing his work have been posted by the University of Viginia. The archives contain around 28 hours of readings, interviews, and student questions from 1957 and 1958 when he was UVA’s Writer in Residence. The site also features essays, articles, and photos of the writer.
A recent article in Newsweek reveals the potential importance of the recordings. Quoting from Faulkner in the University, Malcolm Jones shows how transcriptions of Faulkner’s thoughtful drawl can’t quite capture his answers.
Faulkner: Not at all. I was trying to talk about people, using the only tool I knew, which was the country that I knew. No, I wasn’t trying to—to—wasn’t writing sociology at all [audience laughter]. I was just trying to write about people, which to me are the important [. . . ]. Just the human heart. It’s not—not ideas. I don’t know anything about ideas, don’t have much confidence in them.
What I couldn’t do, reading that book, was hear how he said what he said. There was no intonation, there were no pauses, there were only the words on the page, and while I devoured them, that was as far as I could go […] I didn’t know what I was missing. Now I do.