DATE: 12 May 1958

OCCASION: Representatives from Other Colleges

This clip was created by splicing the end of T-145a and the beginning of T-145b together.

Play the full recording:

William Faulkner: Yes, ma'am.

Unidentified participant: I'm curious as to when—why [...] I wonder how the modern writer justifies using violence in his work. I've been struck by it and sometimes upset by it.

William Faulkner: I think that is one of the tools. That's a particular saw, hammer that the particular carpenter feels he can do the most with, that he might not like the violence either. It's simply because he does not have a better tool to show man in his tragic or comic moments inside the predicament. That is, the dramatic story is, man is faced—the frail, fragile creature of flesh and bone, mostly water, in a ramshackle universe stuck together with electricity, faced with problems which are usually bigger than he is. The story is, does he face it? Does it lick him? Or does he beat it? Or if it licks him, does he get beaten to his knees still, as Hemingway says, "Looking good." That, I think, is—is what anyone writes about. It's man that is striving to be braver than he might be, more honest than he might be, to be compassionate.

Unidentified participant: And it's so important in twentieth century, more than in other centuries [...] [to write about this]?

William Faulkner: Well, no, it's always been important. I think that's what makes man endure and what will cause him to endure, that he is capable of wanting to be brave and to be honest and to be compassionate, and he will last. He's outlasted his dinosaurs. He'll outlast his atom bomb. My belief is that the last sound on earth, when this earth is a red rock freezing, will be two folks building an airship and fussing about where they're going next. [audience laughter] Man is all right. You can't beat him. No, there'll be three. The other one will be writing a book about it. [audience laughter]

[end of recording]