Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)




In August, 1954, William Faulkner’s twentieth book of fiction, A Fable, was published. As might be expected by anyone knowing of Faulkner’s previous career and critical reception, the reviewers received it with widely divergent opinions. None seems to have found the book an unqualified success, the word “failure” occurs in many of the reviews, and a number confess inability to find motivation for various actions or the pertinence of certain episodes, More than one reviewer reveals quite obviously that he has not been able to follow the plot.

As a matter of fact, the runner is one the few main characters who are alive at the end of the story, and his last words on the last page of the book probably contain the essence of the novel, as we shall see. However, reviews are necessarily printed soon after book distribution (this one apparently even before), and A Fable, like most of Faulkner’s books, requires more than one reading.

It is apparent that despite several books, hundreds of shorter studies, and dozens of doctoral dissertations (virtually all since 1950) written about him, WIlliam Faulkner still remains a controversial figure. He is still writing and still expressing his highly quotable opinions to interviewers, Since his moral vision has long been a matter of interest and conjecture, since his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech presumably expressed his own credo for his life’s work, and since some disparity between the work and the credo has been claimed, and investigation of the moral implications of A Fable would appear to be worthwhile. One might ask the following questions: What sort of creature is man? What sort of world does he live in? How may man best live in his world? We shall determine Faulkner’s answers to there questions chiefly as he gave them in A Fable, although other sources may be an occasional help. In conclusion, some attempt will be made to relate this novel to Faulkner’s whole work to date in respect to point of view and artistic value.





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