William Faulkner: Life, Work, and Criticism


45 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-919966-37-3






Reviewed by Charles R. Steele

Charles R. Steele was Associate Professor of English at the University of Calgary.


The series is pretentiously titled. From something that aspires to the rank of “Authoritative Study” we must demand a much more thorough, much more complex and searching undertaking than either author or publisher had any intention of providing here. What we have been given, and what clearly seems to have been demanded of Professor Bird, given the narrow exigencies of space with which he was confronted, is an introductory research text which the beginning student of Faulkner would find useful.

The student will find three basic types of information in this book: biographical, bibliographical, and critical. Bird begins with a quick biographical summary that outlines the most important details of Faulkner’s life and career; while he does not have sufficient space to develop a new and comprehensive perspective on these, he does manage to be accurate and engaging. The bibliographical material is presented in two sections: a chronology of Faulkner’s most significant publications (this is in fact quite inclusive) and a selected, annotated bibliography of basic critical material. The volume’s criticism is similarly divided into two sections: a brief summary of Faulkner’s major fiction, and a “synthetic view” of Faulkner’s art. The separation of the biocritical and critical materials into three sections unfortunately produces some repetition, which of course irritates in such a brief text. Nonetheless, although it is itself rather choppily segmented, the final, “synthetic” section does provide several good insights into Faulkner’s fiction.

Bird presents Faulkner cogently as, in important respects, a child of the Romantic age, fascinated by the paradoxical relationship, especially in art, between stasis and motion, involvement and withdrawal. Bird reflects on the ways in which this fascination is represented in Faulkner’s fictive structures, characterization, manipulations of perspective, symbolism, tone, self-consciousness, and general attitudes. He sees Faulkner’s as a fiction that celebrates “repose and motion, certainty and doubt,” and he concludes that at its best it is fiction which is “hesitant, questioning, and uncertain at every turn.”


Bird, Roy K., “William Faulkner: Life, Work, and Criticism,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/37417.