What was William Faulkner's greatest novel

Faulkner? Faulkner!

Brigitte Kronauer

Authors who write modern literature are at least indirectly influenced by William Faulkner. They don't even have to be aware of it. Many, however, refer to him by name, especially those who do not see themselves primarily as stylists and, contrary to the avant-garde dictates of the early 20th century, have made a decision neither for feeling alone nor for language alone.

The most important thing for me: with each book, Faulkner embarks on a restless search for the best means, for the form with which he can come closest to the truth circled in each case. This ever new risk of finding, discarding, revising the literary tools of the trade gives the content of his great "home chronicles" (Nabokov) from the Mississippi region the energy that is constantly pushing forward and intensely involving the reader.

You can experience this in the wild, at the same time strictly functional change of perspective of "Licht im August", this war that a "white negro" wages against himself and society. Even more radical in "Schall und Wahn", a novel written with great effort, which Faulkner himself described as his "most heroic, most glorious" failure, just as he considered Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" to be America's greatest novel, precisely because it was measured in the gigantic project, remained imperfect.

The novel was "about human power". But: The realization of a vision has been attempted with the utmost effort. And that is what it is about!

From the point of view of our contemporary book business, this may appear extremely anachronistic - and for this very reason, especially for young writers, it is an example of artistic obstinacy that cannot be overestimated, which alone guarantees the true liveliness of literature beyond consumption patterns.

Hot book recommendation No. 3: Frederick L. Gwynn, Joseph L. Blotner: "Conversations with Faulkner", published by Achilla Presse.

Brigitte Kronauer, born in Essen in 1940, is the author of novels such as "The Woman in the Pillow", "Teufelsbrück" and most recently "Two Black Hunters" (2009). In 2005 she received the Büchner Prize

Arnold Stadler

Faulkner is one of those writers whose books have reached me so much that even their grave means something to me. Unfortunately, I have not yet been to William Faulkner's grave; But since we all have the Internet now, I can get to Oxford / Mississippi from my four walls in a few moments and see the front porch of his house from my desk, where he was just sitting in his rocking chair with a sundowner , 51 years ago today. He liked to drink. And so on.

And while reading his books from the deep south, I thought to myself that he was one of those who I actually want to read everything they have written. Unfortunately I haven't yet. But I can already say so much: William Faulkner is also one of those who were able to visualize a whole world with just one book, including for me.

And then I also thought to myself that Faulkner's books are the most beautiful proof of my thesis that there is no province in the world, especially not in literary matters, but only world. Faulkner's world is one of them.

Arnold Stadler, born in Messkirch in 1954, published numerous novels and was awarded the Büchner Prize in 1999. In 2012 "On the way to Winterreute" was published

Norbert Niemann

Reading Faulkner means getting into a trance-like state. More than any other author, his prose draws me into the inner worlds of the characters. This is not least due to the characters, often poor, uneducated people. When in "When I was dying" the members of a peasant family mentally process and evaluate their existence, apart from superstition and fragments from the Bible, they have hardly any tools. Sometimes not even this one. In "Licht im August", the five-year-old orphan Joe Christmas steals toothpaste from his caregiver, which he doesn't know what is good for. He presses the "pink worm" on his finger and licks it up. Once she comes into the room with her lover when he is sitting with the tube in the closet between women's clothes. Christmas doesn't understand what's going on. He registers, eats toothpaste until he vomits. Toothpaste, vomiting, and the couple's behavior combine to create a nameless guilt.

"Schall und Wahn" begins from the perspective of the mentally retarded Benji. The event is made up of fragments of perception and associations. The present and the past tumble back and forth. Benji's impressions stand side by side as if unconnected. But they gradually result in the image of a complex, coherent reality.

Faulkner's poetology caught on. In Camus' "The Stranger", Meursault's impressions are also stripped of their reflective connections. However, this attitude is an artificial one. The intellectual superstructure, which Faulkner's characters do not have, is handed in later by Camus' heroes. This manifests a difference between European and American narrative styles. Faulkner's enormous aesthetic influence can also be seen in Scorsese's "Taxi Driver", where the main character's actions arise from apparently incoherent observations.

"Memory believes before knowledge remembers", it says in "Licht im August". At Faulkner you immerse yourself in a world beyond conceptual prefiguration. You go back to the threshold of reflection, to where words are just beginning to be words. The reality of Faulkner figures is made up of almost unconditional perception by perception, sentence by sentence. This reality is no less complex than the supposedly generally binding one. To make it legible, to raise it to the same level as the prevailing readings of our reality, Faulkner is an unrivaled master in this, to whom I can only bow.

Norbert Niemann, born in Landau an der Isar in 1961, wrote three novels, most recently in 2008 "Willkommen neue Träume" (Hanser)

Ulrich Peltzer