A landmark in American fiction, Light in August published in 1932, explores Faulkner's central theme: the nature of evil. Joe Christmas-a man doomed, deracinated and alone-wanders the Deep South in search of an identity, and a place in society. After killing his perverted God-fearing lover, it becomes inevitable that he is pursued by a lynch-hungry mob. Yet after the sacrifice, there is new life, a determined ray of light in Faulkner's complex and tragic world.
In a loose, unstructured modernist narrative style that draws from Christian allegory and oral storytelling, Faulkner explores themes of race, sex, class and religion in the American South. By focusing on characters that are misfits, outcasts, or are otherwise marginalized in their community, he portrays the clash of alienated individuals against a Puritanical, prejudiced rural society. Early reception of the novel was mixed, with some reviewers critical of Faulkner's style and subject matter. However, over time, the novel has come to be considered one of the most important literary works by Faulkner and one of the best English-language novels of the 20th century.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Born in 1897 in New Albany, Mississippi, William Faulkner was the son of a family proud of their prominent role in the history of the south. He grew up in Oxford, Mississippi, and left high school at fifteen to work in his grandfather's bank. Rejected by the US military in 1915, he joined the Canadian flyers with the RAF, but was still in training when the war ended. Returning home, he studied at the University of Mississippi and visited Europe briefly in 1925. His first poem was published in The New Republic in 1919. His first book of verse and early novels followed, but his major work began with the publication of 'The Sound and the Fury' in 1929. As I Lay Dying (1930), Sanctuary (1931), Light in August (1932), Absalom, Absalom! (1936) and The Wild Palms (1939) are the key works of his great creative period leading up to Intruder in the Dust (1948). During the 1930s, he worked in Hollywood on film scripts, notably The Blue Lamp, co-written with Raymond Chandler. William Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 and the Pulitzer Prize for The Reivers just before his death in July 1962.