268
Faulkner, William
Estimate
25,00035,000
LOT SOLD. 28,125 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT
268
Faulkner, William
Estimate
25,00035,000
LOT SOLD. 28,125 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana

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Faulkner, William
Photostat copy with autograph inscription, corrections and deletions in the author's hand in ink, 2 pp on unmarked paper (11 x 8 1/2 in.; 279 x 216 mm), stapled in upper left corner and inscribed in red ink in an unidentified hand "Rec'd 1/25/60.  William Faulkner," [Oxford, Mississippi, January 1960]; 2 horizontal folds, upper right corner of first page with small diagonal fold, lower margin of first page chipped with some paper loss (but not affecting text).
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Literature

Blotner, Faulkner: A Biography (1984 ed.), pp 473, 677–678; Faulkner (Meriwether, ed.), Essays, Speeches & Public Letters (2003 ed.), pp.113–114

Catalogue Note

"Hommage à Albert Camus."  William Faulkner's moving tribute to a much-admired colleague and supporter.  Albert Camus was killed at the age of 46 in an automobile accident on 4 January 1960.  His friend, Michel Gaillimard, member of the famed publishing family who also published Faulkner, was at the wheel of the sports car when it crashed into a tree near a small village in Burgundy.  At the same time, Camus's older colleague, William Faulkner, was in Wright's Sanitarium in Byhalia, Mississippi, fifty miles from Oxford, being treated for alcoholism with intravenous feeding and medication.  The loss of this younger writer, the second-youngest Nobel laureate after Kipling, must have been a serious blow to Faulkner.  No one had done more than Camus to advance Faulkner's reputation.  In 1946, Jean-Paul Sartre would tell readers of The Atlantic Monthly of the profound influence both Hemingway and Faulkner had had on himself, Simone de Beauvoir, and Camus.  He reported that in the early days of the German Occupation, "The reading of novels by Faulkner and Hemingway became for some a symbol of resistance."  In the mid-1950's, Camus had declared, "Faulkner is the greatest writer in the world."  In 1956 he adapted Requiem for Nun for the French stage and directed it himself, with a stellar cast and sets by Leonor Fini.  He considered his work on Requiem to be the highlight of his theatrical career.

It was then to be expected that the Nouvelle Revue Française would ask Faulkner to contribute to the March 1960 issue, which was dedicated to Camus.  Faulkner sent his tribute to editor Marcel Arland in late January.  In a note at the top of the present copy, he has written in ink, possibly to someone in the Harold Ober office in New York, "Copy for your records.  Requested of me by M. Marcel Arland for March number of Nouvelle Revue Francaise [sic] to be 'consecrated' to Camus.  I sent him original yesterday."  Faulkner's process in formulating his ideas about Camus can best be seen in the sentence in which he sets out his most positive assertion about his French colleague.  Before deletions and corrections in Faulkner's hand, the sentence reads, "The track he followed led into life in being that one devoted to making with our frail absurd powers something which had not existed in life until he made it."  In the author's corrections to the present copy, he has changed "life" to "the sunlight," scored through the word "absurd" and inserted the words "and our absurd materials" after "powers" and before "something."  Most interestingly, "he" is changed to "we" at the end of the sentence. Faulkner also repeats the greeting he wired to Camus after the younger man had been awarded the Nobel Prize: "On salut l'âme qui constamment se cherche et se demande."

The closing of this tribute is probably the most moving thing Faulkner ever wrote about another writer.  Knowing that William Faulkner was in frail health and had only two years to live himself, the words become poignant.  "People will say He was too young; he did not have time to finish.  But it is not How long, it is not How much; it is, simply What.  When the door shut for him, he had already written on this side of it that which every artist who also carries through life with him that one same foreknowledge and hatred of death, is hoping to do: I was here.  He was doing that, and perhaps in that bright second he even knew he had succeded.  What more could he want?"

After appearing in French in the Camus number of the Nouvelle Revue Française, the piece was published in the original English in the Spring 1961 number of the Transatlantic Review.

A moving memento mori, commemorating a great literary friendship and marking a golden age of mutual admiration and understanding in Franco-American literary life.

Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana

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New York