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Thursday
Jul092009

1955

A Fable

by William Faulkner

Original Publisher: Random House
Current Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Harold Augenbraum writes:

Faulkner’s second National Book Award in five years (and first work of fiction to win both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer), A Fable represents ten years of labor. Faulkner lost his way several times until he had to outline its events on the wall so he could keep track. No one I know has ever read this book, even my friends who describe themselves as Faulknerians. It’s dense, filled with virtuoso writing, but getting a handle on what’s going on is like trying to lift a giant block of hazelnut jelly.

Set mainly in France during the final days of World War I, when the Americans and the French first learned to be buddies, the French love this book, as they do all of Faulkner. Read it very slowly and for the words more than the story. A couple of favorite scenes: 1) at the beginning of a political march, a man gives a hunk of bread to a starving woman. When she starts shouting politics, she spews the half-chewed bread all over him. 2) a small German plane carrying the pilot and a general is forced to land on a French airfield. The pilot and the general get out of the plane, and, as enemy soldiers approach, the general calmly takes out a gun...and shoots the pilot in the head.

Harold Augenbraum is Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, an editor and translator.

ISBN: 9780394724133

Fiction Finalists that Year:

  • Harriette Arnow for The Dollmaker
  • Hamilton Basso for The View from Pompey's Head
  • Davis Grubb for The Night of the Hunter
  • Randall Jarrell for Pictures from an Institution
  • Milton Lott for The Last Hunt
  • Frederick Manfred for Lord Grizzly
  • William March for The Bad Seed
  • Wright Morris for The Huge Season
  • Frank Rooney for The Courts of Memory
  • John Steinbeck for Sweet Thursday

Fiction Judges that Year: Malcolm Cowley, Paul Engle, Elizabeth Janeway,
Wallace Stegner, Robert Penn Warren

The Year in Literature:

  • A Fable also won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
  • Halldór Laxness won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

More Information: This was Faulkner’s second National Book Award win in five years.

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