CRITICAL: How do you understand Faulkner’s extraordinary statement in his Nobel Prize speech “the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself … alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat” ?
William Faulkner exposes the danger of many writers; the ‘lust’ of it, rather than the love of writing. The essential notion that Faulker puts forward in his Nobel Prize speech is the immortality of the human condition. This can be evidenced today: the long lasting classics that feature in the classroom, or on the bookshelf in your home library, are the one’s that innately capture what is is to be human. Humanity is not circumstantial. It is not dependent on external events, monitory value or commodity. It is the inner self. It is love, feeling and emotion. It is pain, hardship and guilt. Faulker acknowledges this drift, the loss of connection to the soul. Worldly devastation and preoccupation has society fearing for the world, rather than the self. He states “There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up?”
There is an admirable statement within Faulkner’s Nobel Prize speech that highlights the writer’s ability to manipulate the emotions of the reader:
‘The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.’
Faulkner acknowledges the power of writing. To write about emotion is to teach emotion, to remind the reader of the importance, perhaps even the existence of emotion. To remind them the eternal power of the human. For, as Faulkner says, the human is immortal.