A writer’s duty to help man prevail

English: William Faulkner's signature
English: William Faulkner’s signature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I decline to accept the end of man…. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail.” ~ William Faulkner

This is from the Nobel Laureate’s speech delivered on Dec 10, 1950 in Stockholm where he states that the award was not “made to him as a man but to his work- a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit.

We are not now that strength which in ages past
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will,
To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield ~Tennyson, Ulysses

Then the author sends out a very clear message to the young men and women who are “already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will some day stand here where I am standing.”

According to him, the general tragedy was the universal physical fear borne by the young writer, who eventually “forgot the human heart in conflict with itself” which according to Faulkner was the only thing that marks good writing – the only thing worth the sweat and the toil – the only thing worth writing about.

He emphasizes the importance of integrating the “old universal truths like love, pity, compassion and sacrifice” without which the writing becomes “ephemeral and doomed”.

According to him, the young writer must learn to write of the heart. He must not write as if he is watching the end of the world. He says that man will prevail even in doom not because of his “inexhaustible voice” but because of his soul that is capable of compassion, sacrifice and endurance.”

The duty of a writer or a poet is to write about these things. For only the one who writes has the power and privilege to lift a man’s heart and his spirit.

Dear readers, how much do you agree on this stand on writing?

1 Comment

  1. susielindau says:

    They can be included in any genre. I would say that Faulkner was a pretty smart guy!


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