Except for the first one, all these clips are from Faulkner's visit on 28 April 1958 to a First-Year English class that has apparently just read The Unvanquished. Most of the questioners, however, sound like faculty members rather than freshmen. One interesting place where you can hear the students is when they laugh at Faulkner's answer to the question about Drusilla as a Confederate soldier.... And as you listen to these clips, I hope you'll also think about the kinds of questions they didn't ask about the book.
Q: What book of yours would you advise a person to read first?
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Q: Why did you draw up this young Negro boy Ringo to be the smarter of the two?
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Q: Mr. Faulkner, how deep was Ab Snopes into Grumby’s business, and what jobs do you think he did for Grumby?
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Q: I’d like to know exactly what the train signified since the white boy had—had seen the train and the colored one hadn't. And then the old train out there had been ruined by the Yankees. Was that supposed to be some significant thing ruined by the white people themselves? . . . Well, I was wondering if you had meant any significance concerning freedom, any—any tangible thing?
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Q: Mr. Faulkner, could I ask a question of interest to many historians also interested in literature? You spoke of the three-fold fund: experience, observation, and imagination. When you write about—as you did in The Unvanquished—the period of the Reconstruction, do you find that works of historians about Reconstruction in Mississippi are useful or do they just clutter the issue and deaden the imagination? But to build up your knowledge of that period, do you—did you find that you went naturally to historical works on the period, or was that at all useful, that sort of thing?
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Q: Yes, sir. I was thinking of one. In The Unvanquished up until the time—I think the two boys were about twelve years old—you pointed out the fact that the white boy was one little step ahead of the colored boy at that time by having seen something that the other hadn’t. Then afterwards, the colored boy took command of the situation when they started their reselling of the mules, and I was wondering if you thought that the colored person was coming into the front, or into more power or initiative, in that day and age.
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Q: Mr. Faulkner, The Unvanquished was published originally as a series of short stories, I believe, and then revised for a novel form. When you were writing those short stories, did you have the idea in mind that these would make a novel eventually, or did they just appear after they appeared in short story form to fit together so naturally that it was necessary to make a novel out of them?
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Q: Has Hollywood ever expressed any interest in these stories?
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Q: In The Unvanquished, the theory of the McCaslins, that people belong to the land, is that to represent the belief of a general class of people at that time, or was that just an individual case . . . ?
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Q: This question is related. Were Colonel Sartoris and your great-grandfather, the Colonel Falkner—I mean—or how much did you draw on Colonel Falkner to get the picture of Colonel Sartoris?
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Q: Mr. Faulkner, toward the end of “An Odor of Verbena,” she [Aunt Jenny] says to Bayard, “Damn you Sartorises,” even though she seems to approve of his not going out and getting revenge. Is it some quality of heartlessness that she feels even in an act that she approves of?
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Q: When the boy’s aunt says, “Go upstairs until this blows over. It’ll be all right,” is she saying that because she just doesn’t want him to get hurt?
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Q: In that—that final section of The Unvanquished, are you developing a notion of a changing and developing tradition, and that Bayard doesn’t reject the whole tradition. He keeps the honor and the courage, but he rejects the heart of the old tradition, and that—that is the vendetta. And I wondered if you—that if the sprig of verbena represented the old mechanical, unchanging tradition that he was building from and rejecting partly but not altogether. I noticed that you present that sprig of verbena as having the petals snapped out as if—as if by a machine. I wondered if—if you—in your mind, that meant that this was the—the mechanical, unchanging tradition, that he was rejecting partly but he was growing away from, but still keeping the—the honor and courage.
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Q: Sir, in the earlier chapters of The Unvanquished, Colonel Sartoris is shown to be a very brave man and a very—could do all sorts of wonderful things, and then in the last chapter, he seems to be shown in a slightly different light, that he’s not—not quite all these things that he appeared to be earlier. Just what is your estimation of Colonel Sartoris as a man?
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Q: Mr. Faulkner, were there many girls in the war who went off like Drusilla, rode astride and went with the troops?
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Q: There is no romantic attraction between Drusilla and the boy?
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