One Matchless Time
A Life of William FaulknerBook - 2004
Jay Parini, the author of highly praised biographies of Robert Frost and John Steinbeck, has now written an engaging biography of one of the most significant American writers of the twentieth century.
One Matchless Time is a sympathetic, sweeping evocation of William Faulkner's life and work. From his birth in 1897 in Mississippi to his death sixty-five years later, Faulkner spent almost his entire life on this one small patch of land, the "significant soil" from which all his fiction grew. Jay Parini paints an intimate picture of Faulkner's Mississippi world and shows how the artist transformed this raw material into Yoknapatawpha County, a place of pure imagination.
Between 1928 and 1942, during what Faulkner called his "one matchless time," a period of wild inspiration when characters and stories came to him mysteriously and in abundance, he published more than half a dozen masterpieces, including the novels The Sound and the Fury; As I Lay Dying; Sanctuary; Light in August; Absalom, Absalom!; The Wild Palms; Go Down, Moses; and The Hamlet. This is an astonishing achievement without equal in American literature.
Parini, who has taught Faulkner's work to students for nearly thirty years, vividly brings to life this writer's complex fictional world in the context of his life, using the one to illuminate the other. He uses letters and memoirs unavailable to earlier biographers as well as interviews he had with Faulkner's daughter and several of his lovers. His William Faulkner is an immensely gifted, obsessive artist plagued by alcoholism and a bad marriage, but someone who rose above his limitations to become a figure of major importance on the stage of world literature. One Matchless Time is a magnificent biography, profound, thought-provoking, meticulously researched, elegantly composed, and a tribute to the genius of its subject.