Quotation by Frederick Karl

These two men, seemingly so different in their public attitudes—Faulkner hugged his private life, Hemingway made his into a national epic—responded similarly to inner needs. Self-destructive drinking was a phenomenon common to many American writers besides Hemingway and Faulkner; their commonality went far deeper. Both needed confusion, near disaster, and a reaching for depths before they became pumped up for work. Hemingway by the 1930s had put most of his best work behind him. He developed and peaked well before Faulkner, and the body of his achievement is far smaller as a result, although his influence was larger. Hemingway's turbulence was exhibited on a public scale. By comparison, Faulkner's turmoil was almost invis ible, except to family members and friends near him. He demanded his privacy with the obsession of a man who feared to give away anything which was not in his books. But because his resources were kept so close to his chest, so dammed up inside, he was more suitable for the long haul. He could incubate ideas, techniques, and energies without dissipating them in a great public display. And he could move at his own rate of development.
Frederick Karl (b. 1927), U.S. critic, literary historian, educator. "Overview," William Faulkner: American Writer, Grove Weidenfeld (1989).
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