Selected Short Stories Background

Selected Short Stories Background

The Selected Short Stories of William Faulkner was published in 1993 and features stories composed by the Nobel laureate during what is generally considered the most fruitful period of his literary career: roughly from 1929, when he published The Sound and the Fury, all the way through to the middle of the 1950s. Among the short stories selected for this collection are the most widely anthologized and studies stories Faulkner ever wrote, including such English 101 curriculum staples as “Barn Burning” and “A Rose for Emily.”

Those choices are wise as they serve to bring the reader yet to be fully exposed to Faulkner in courtesy of familiarity. Once inside, however, those readers will get the opportunity to explore the much greater depth of Faulkner that is too sorely missing from assigned reading. For instance, while Faulkner’s reputation rests upon a series of Southern Gothic masterpieces, many readers may not realize he also dealt with issues related to Native Americans. “Red Leaves” is an intense tale of a pair of “Indians” chasing after a slave that ultimately reveals the commonality of fateful encounters with white civilization of both indigenous people in the Americas and those forcibly extricated from their indigenous tribes.

Another great choice on the part of the editors is to introduce readers to a recurring subject of Faulkner’s stories—hunting—not through the inclusion of the readily available “The Bear” but with the substitution of the very last example of this narrative he ever published, “Race at Morning.” Also of note is the inclusion of what is perhaps Faulkner’s most controversial short story and certainly one of his darkest and most terrifying. Before he would agree to publish “That Evening Sun” in American Mercury in 1931, editor H.L Mencken convinced Faulkner to tone down some of what he considered the potentially objectionable aspects of the story. Upon republication in his very popular 1931 anthology These Thirteen, Faulkner restored the edits, and the story can be found in this volume in that original state as well.

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