Here’s a selection of William Faulkner Quotes, covering topics such as Mississippi, writing, time and life.
We really hope you enjoy these quotes and that they give you something to think about.
Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.
A period of time is as much an organising principle for a work of fiction as a sense of place. You can do geography, as Faulkner did, or you can dwell on a particular period. It provides the same framework.
Faulkner was the first novelist I read with pen and paper in hand because his technique stunned me.
John Steinbeck is one of the most under-discussed and under-written-about of all American writers. He is way up there and should stand on a par, or even above, Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner.
I was writing novels in high school and apprenticed myself in a way both to Faulkner and to Hemingway.
Dreams have only one owner at a time. That’s why dreamers are lonely.
Truth; that long clean clear simple undeniable unchallengeable straight and shining line, on one side of which black is black and on the other white is white, has now become an angle, a point of view.
To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi.
War and drink are the two things man is never too poor to buy.
The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.
Most writers have been influenced by Faulkner.
If you want to study writing, read Dickens. That’s how to study writing, or Faulkner, or D.H. Lawrence, or John Keats. They can teach you everything you need to know about writing.
I believe man will not merely endure, he will prevail…because he has a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.
The books I read are the ones I knew and loved when I was a young man and to which I return as you do to old friends.
Faulkner is a writer who has had much to do with my soul, but Hemingway is the one who had the most to do with my craft – not simply for his books, but for his astounding knowledge of the aspect of craftsmanship in the science of writing.
Faulkner speaks to us on the questions of race, the challenges of modernity, and modern man’s dilemma in all of its aspects. That he is able to specify among those and bring those themes alive is one of his great gifts. There are so many different kinds of pleasures one gets from encountering those materials.
Faulkner is a really important figure in southern literature. I wrestle with him and his legacy every time I sit down and write a piece of fiction.
Men have been pacifists for every reason under the sun except to avoid danger and fighting.
Wonder. Go on and wonder.
‘As I Lay Dying,’ I reread that often. That’s the first work of Faulkner’s that I read that so amazed me and that I responded to emotionally and viscerally. I admired it so much, and I think that’s why I keep rereading it.
Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.
You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.
She was bored. She loved, had capacity to love, for love, to give and accept love. Only she tried twice and failed twice to find somebody not just strong enough to deserve it, earn it, match it, but even brave enough to accept it.
When I was young, I was a passionate reader of Sartre. I’ve read the American novelists, in particular the lost generation – Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dos Passos – especially Faulkner. Of the authors I read when I was young, he is one of the few who still means a lot to me.
Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing, I would choose pain.
Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do.
Mr. Faulkner, of course, is interested in making your mind rather than your flesh creep.
The next time you try to seduce anyone, don’t do it with talk, with words. Women know more about words than men ever will. And they know how little they can ever possibly mean.
I’m bad and i’m going to hell, and I don’t care. I’d rather be in hell than anywhere where you are.
They say that it is the practiced liar who can deceive. But so often the practiced and chronic liar deceives only himself; it is the man who all his life has been selfconvicted of veracity whose lies find quickest credence.
As Faulkner says, all of us have the capacity in us for great good and for great evil, for love but also for hate. I wanted to write those kinds of complex character in a fantasy, and not just have all the good people get together to fight the bad guy.
Writers are notoriously unable to know about themselves. Faulkner thought ‘The Fable’ was his best novel. F. Scott Fitzgerald liked ‘Tender Is the Night,’ an experimental novel.
Civilization begins with distillation
A mule will labor ten years willingly and patiently for you, for the privilege of kicking you once.
Perhaps they were right putting love into books. Perhaps it could not live anywhere else.
Facts and truth really don’t have much to do with each other.
Of course, I’m of the generation that grew up with Hemingway and Faulkner as strong influences.
You don’t love because: you love despite; not for the virtues, but despite the faults.
Nothing can destroy the good writer. The only thing that can alter the good writer is death. Good ones don’t have time to bother with success or getting rich.
The past is never dead. It’s not even past.
Our most treasured family heirloom are our sweet family memories. The past is never dead, it is not even past.
To live anywhere in the world today and be against equality because of race or color is like living in Alaska and being against snow.
Faulkner’s characters, too, were uneducated. They were deprived, but they were allowed to have very rich inner lives. I want to advocate for that, for inner lives that are much more complicated and more poetic than we think.
I’d have liked to have been another Faulkner, of course.
Pouring out liquor is like burning books.
It’s a shame that the only thing a man can do for eight hours a day is work. He can’t eat for eight hours; he can’t drink for eight hours; he can’t make love for eight hours. The only thing a man can do for eight hours is work.
A man is the sum of his misfortunes. One day you’d think misfortune would get tired but then time is your misfortune
If a story is in you, it has to come out.
Toni Morrison has a habit, perhaps traceable to the pernicious influence of William Faulkner, of plunging into the narrative before the reader has a clue to what is going on.
Don’t be ‘a writer’. Be writing.
We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.
I’m not trying to emulate William Faulkner. I never said I was.
Faulkner wrote for film, and his ear is just impeccable.
No one is without Christianity, if we agree on what we mean by that word. It is every individual’s individual code of behavior by means of which he makes himself a better human being than his nature wants to be, if he followed his nature only. Whatever its symbol – cross or crescent or whatever – that symbol is man’s reminder of his duty inside the human race.
Be scared. You can’t help that. But don’t be afraid.
The salvation of the world is in man’s suffering.
There are some things for which three words are three too many, and three thousand words that many words too less.
Totalitarians always want to kill culture. But imagine life without football, Faulkner, or Bob Dylan. It’s not life.
A gentleman accepts the responsibility of his actions and bears the burden of their consequences.
You can’t beat women anyhow and that if you are wise or dislike trouble and uproar you don’t even try to.
a fellow is more afraid of the trouble he might have than he ever is of the trouble he’s already got. He’ll cling to trouble he’s used to before he’ll risk a change. Yes. A man will talk about how he’d like to escape from living folks. But it’s the dead folks that do him the damage. It’s the dead ones that lay quiet in one place and dont try to hold him, that he cant escape from.
…i give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire…i give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.
I can’t change overnight into a serious literary author. You can’t compare apples to oranges. William Faulkner was a great literary genius. I am not.
The best fiction is far more true than any journalism.
One of the saddest things is that the only thing that a man can do for eight hours a day, day after day, is work. You can’t eat…nor make love for eight hours…
Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.
Once a b*tch always a b*tch, what I say.
When I was younger, people were inventing a new way of writing – James Joyce, Hemingway, Faulkner. And I thought we had to find a structure for cinema. I fought for a radical cinema, and I continued all my life.
Talk, talk, talk: the utter and heartbreaking stupidity of words.
Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
Don’t bother just to be better than others. Try to be better than yourself.
Unless you’re ashamed of yourself now and then, you’re not honest
It worries me that undergrads and high school students are forced into books they aren’t ready for, like Faulkner’s, and then they are afraid of putting their toes in the water again.
I feel like a wet seed wild in the hot blind earth.
So I’m not a Southern writer in the commonly held sense of the term, like Faulkner or Eudora Welty, who took the South for their entire literary environment and subject matter.
In writing, you must kill all your darlings.
How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.
Don’t do what you can do – try what you can’t do.
So, never be afraid. Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion, against injustice and lying and greed. If you, not just you in this room tonight, but in all the thousands of other rooms like this one about the world today and tomorrow and next week, will do this, not as a class or classes, but as individuals, men and women, you will change the earth.
I always think about Faulkner, and I would argue that there can be a difference between the way that characters express themselves internally and externally.
It’s not when you realize that nothing can help you — religion, pride, anything — it’s when you realize that you don’t need any aid.
Clocks slay time… Time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.
The saddest thing about love, joe, is that not only the love cannot last forever, but even the heartbreak is soon forgotten.
You could do so much for me if you just would. If you just knew. I am I and you are you and I know it and you don’t know it and you could do so much for me if you just would and if you just would then I could tell you and then nobody would have to know it except you and me.
There is no such thing as bad whiskey. Some whiskeys just happen to be better than others. But a man shouldn’t fool with booze until he’s fifty; then he’s a damn fool if he doesn’t.