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William Faulkner's Nobel Prize Acceptance speech
Transcript of William Faulkner's Nobel Prize Acceptance speech
William Faulkner, acclaimed author. Occasion:
It is December 10, 1950.
City Hall in Stockholm, Sweden.
Faulkner has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for “his powerful an artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel.” Audience:
Faulkner addresses the guests at the Nobel Banquet
Faulkner also addresses his fellow writers who "will one day stand here where he is standing". Purpose:
Faulkner gives his rationale for his acceptance of the Nobel Prize. He explains that he does not write for fame or money, but for his heart and true love of the practice.
The speech then transgresses into his views of the time, the writers in it, and their writing styles. Faulkner shares with the audience the attributes that he believes every writer should have. The wisdom that Faulkner supplies is that "it is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage… honor… hope… pride… compassion… pity… and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past” (Faulkner).
He believes that the duty of a writer is to keep mankind thriving by supporting it with works of feeling. This is what separates him from the other authors. In writing his speech, Faulkner maintains a
distinct structure. He begins with a broad
statement and introduction, then gradually
increases to an eloquent and well supported
claim, then ends with a conclusion that leaves
the reader or listener with a different view
on the art of writing. Faulkner begins by reaching out to his intended audience: young writers who Faulkner hopes will not fall short of what writing is meant to be. Faulkner uses this introduction to express his beliefs on the art of writing and how it is meant to influence the reader emotionally rather than just reaching the surface. Next, Faulkner introduces his claim: the idea that writers have forgotten about the "human heart in conflict with itself" Faulkner concludes his speech by ending
with a hopeful tone. He believes that man will
prevail, not merely endure, and he inserts this
positive statement to help the reader or listener
continue to strive for their best. He believes man has an inexhaustible spirit that
is capable of many great and wonderful things,
and Faulkner uses his speech to encourage
writers to keep in their minds what is important. Two Important Passages The most important and influential part of this passage is the mentioning of “universal bones,” which refers to the emotions and feelings all humans have experienced. Writers today “leave no scars,” meaning that they no longer effect the reader emotionally. In order for a book to remain inside the reader’s heart, influencing them greatly the point of sadness or joy, a writer must focus on the important things that relate to the human spirit. Structure Occasion:
Faulkner is accepting this award to ensure that people know he writes for the love of it, and not for the fame. He wants his work to be what people recognize, not the man behind it.
“I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail” Audience:
Faulkner addresses the men and women writers who work just as hard as he does, and hopes that he takes his advice for their success, and for the success of man. "It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart..."
Faulkner uses the phrase "lifting his heart" to mean that poets and writers can lighten the mood of man, if they do their work correctly. They help to shape the world around them, just by doing their jobs. "...young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat" (Faulkner).
Faulkner refers to the poet or writer's job as agonizing and sweaty. While the job is not really as toilsome as he makes it seem, it might as well be, because according to him, writers are the ones who alone can remind the world how it is supposed to be. "...when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock handing tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustable voice, still talking" (Faulkner).
By creating an image, not just stating an idea, Faulkner convinces his audience to see as he does, drawing them in and making their decisions for them. His apocalyptic vista as compared to the so called "puny" voice of man creates contrast as well, overall creating a magnificent set up for the next part of the speech. Subject: Faulkner's gratitude of the award and his personal take on what he thinks being a talented writer means. Tone: Faulkner's tone is scholarly and authoritative