Faulkner, William: The Reivers
(researched by Vincent Baxter)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Faulkner, William. The Reivers. New York: Random House, Inc., 1962.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
First Edition published in cloth.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
pp. [i-viii] [1-3] 4-305 [306-312]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
This edition has neither an editor nor an introduction.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
This edition is not illustrated.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
I find the chapter pages rather unattractive. Otherwise, the text is layed out and printed in an aesthetically pleasing manner.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The leaves in this edition are of woven paper. I have also examined a preserved First Edition at Alderman Special Collections and the leaves were white. In comparison, the hardback First Edition which I have acquired are a bit yellowed, but are also very readable and managable, for a 36 year old book.
11 Description of binding(s)
"Red V-cloth; front and spine stamped in orange and gold. Top edge red. Gold endpapers."
12 Transcription of title page
THE | REIVERS | [begin italics] A Reminiscence [end italics] | WILLIAM | FAULKNER | [Random House icon] | RANDOM HOUSE | [begin italics] New York [end italics]
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
The manuscript for this novel is held at The University of Virginia's Alderman Library Special Collection. It is a typed manuscript with holographic additions and cancellations. The manuscript is 382 pages on 337 leaves. Dated August 21, 1961. Written in Charlottesville, Virginia.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Pages 75-91 of the First Edition were preprinted in the Saturday Evening Post on March 31, 1962 under the title, "Hell Creek Crossing."
Material between pp. 95-161 were preprinted in Esquire Magazine in May, 1962 under the title, "The Education of Lucius Priest."
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
The publisher released both a Limited Copy and a Trade Copy. Limited Copy: pp. [i-viii][1-3] 4-305 [306-312] .25 cm. Laid paper. Maroon V-cloth; Front and spine gold stamped. Top edge red. Green endpapers. Certificate of limitation "...five hundred copies...Each copy signed by the author and numbered. 313]," tipped in facing p. [ii. On copyright page "First Printing"
Trade Copy (For store and Book of the Month Club release): Wove paper. Red V-cloth, front and spine stamped in orange and gold. Top edge red. Gold endpapers.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
The Reivers. London: Chatto and Windus, 1962. First British Publication.
6 Last date in print?
The Reivers: A Reminiscence. New York: Vintage Books, 1992. Reissue Edition. *note: Vintage Books is a division of Random House, Inc. which originally published the novel.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
Publisher's Weekly, September 24, 1962. pp. 90: "'Ranks fist among Chicago fiction bestsellers,' according to Chicago Daily News." Publisher's Weekly, August 27, 1962. pp. 458: "'This is the fiction leader in Washington,' according to Washington Star."
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
I could find no Random House advertisements for The Reivers in Publisher's Weekly from May 28, 1962 through 1963. I am a bit frustrated with this because with a publishing and death closely following, I would assume there would be some sort of advertisement. The information cited in question 9 is related by Publisher's Weekly and not by the Publisher.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Screenplay for The Reivers [manuscript], 1967. Alderman Library Special Collections.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
French:
Les larrons. Paris: Gallimard, 1964. Trans. Maurice-E. Coindreau and Raymond Girard. With preface by Raymond Girard.
German:
Die Spitzbuben. Stuttgart: Goverts, 1963. Trans. Elisabeth Schnack.
----. Zurich: Fretz & Wasmuth, 1963. The Schnack translation.
----. Frankfurter Allgemeine (Frankfurt am Main), April-May 1964. The Schnack translation. Serialized publication, various dates, in 35 parts.
Italian:
I saccheggiatori. Milan: Mondadori, Club degli Editori, [1963?]. Trans. Giorgio Monicelli.
----. Milan: Mondadori, 1963. The Monicelli translation. ìI edizione Settembre 1963.î
Spanish:
Los rateros. Buenos Aires-Barcelona-Mexico City-Bogot·-Rio de Janeiro: Plaza & JanÈs, 1963. Trans. Jorge Ferrer-Vidal Turull. ìPrimera ediciÛn.î
----. Barcelona: Ediciones G.P., [1964]. The Ferrer-Vidal Turull translation.
Miscellaneous:
Os desgarrados. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Civilizacao Brasilieira, 1963. Trans. Breno Silveira.
Tre rovare. Stockholm: Bonniers, 1963. Trans. Gunnar Barklund.
De Rovers. Utrecht: A.W. Bruna en Zoon, 1963. Trans. John Vandenbergh.
Tyveknektene. Oslo: Gyldendal, 1964. Trans. Leo Strom.
Os ratoneiros. Lisbon: Portugalia, [1964]. Trans. with preface by Manuel Barbosa.
Zsivanyok. Budapest: Europa Konyvkiado, 1965. Trans. into Hungarian by Laszlo Szijgyarto.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
Note: These segments from the novel were preprinted in magazine form.
"Hell Creek Crossing." Saturday Evening Post, CCXXXV No. 13 (March 31, 1962). *pp. 75-91 in the first edition.
"The Education of Lucius Priest." Esquire, LVII, No. 5 (May 1962). *pp. 95-161 in the first edition.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
N/A
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
The famed American novelist William Faulkner has been quoted as saying, "I'm old fashioned and probably a little mad too; I don't like having my private life and affairs available to just any and everyone who has
the price of the vehicle it's printed in, or a friend who bought it and will lend it to him." Despite efforts to keep the details of his private life out of the public eye, much has been discovered of the celebrated Modernist. His family life proves es
pecially interesting, for (in the opinion of his biographer, Joseph Blotner) Faulkner drew more extensively on genealogical and regional lore than any other American writer. William Cuthbert Falkner was born, the first of four sons, to Murry C. Falkner a
nd Maud Butler on September 25, 1897 on Jefferson Street, New Albany, Union County, Mississippi. The town of his ancestry and youth remarkably resembles the fictitious setting for many of his novels: Jefferson, Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. Also r
emarkable is the Falkner family tree with Colonel William Clark Falkner at the head. This genealogy is strikingly similar to families such as The Compsons which Faulkner creates in The Sound and The Fury. Falkner found little interest in his studies at Oxford high school. He returned year after year to play Football and Baseball where he was the starting Quarterback and star Pitcher. During his second attempt at passing the Eleventh Grade, "Billy" broke h
is nose (oddly, tackling one of his own Football teammates who was running towards the wrong goal line) and dropped out of school altogether in the Fall of 1915. He was working at his father's livery stable, when he became acquainted with the son of an a
ffluent Oxford, Mississippi businessman: Phil Stone. Stone, who had just returned with a B.A. from Yale, introduced William to the verse of then Modernist poets, Keats and Swinburne. Thus began a life long literary adventure with Stone and close friend
Ben Wasson as his primary literary agents for much of his career. In the Spring of 1918 Faulkner enlisted in Canada's Royal Air Force, having been rejected by his own national Air Force for lack in physical stature (he began spelling his surname "Faulkne
r" upon his enlistment). The November Armistice would not allow him to see action in The Great World War; he returned to Oxford, Mississippi 179 days after he left. At his father's request, William enrolled as a "special student" at the University of Mi
ssissippi studying French, Spanish, and 2nd year English Literature. The Ole' Miss freshman soon became a pledge and brother the the Gamma Chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, as was tradition with the Falkner family. On August 6, 1919 Faulkne
r's first work was published. He was 21 when this poem entitled "L'Apres-Midi d' un Faune" appeared in The New Republic. In 1920 he dropped out of Ole' Miss and reviewed books for the Oxford newspaper, The Mississippian. Faulkner's first nationally pub
lished work, a volume of poetry entitled The Faun, was released in December of 1924 by the Four Seas Company of Boston with a first printing of 1,000 copies. In June, 1929 Faulkner married Estelle Oldham Franklin and in the same year, Harcourt Brace publ
ished his first novel, Sartoris. In October of the same year Jonathan Cape & Harrison Smith published Faulkner's first critical success, The Sound and the Fury. In 1933 Jill, the only Faulkner child was born. His family established residency at the Oxf
ord estate of Rowan Oak where he continued to write critically acclaimed novels. In 1950, he accepted the Nobel Prize for literature and then in 1954, he accepted the Pulitzer Prize for his novel, A Fable. He was now a public figure who was called upon
to make various ambassadorial appearances throughout the globe. After years of alcohol abuse, Faulkner fell ill in 1956 and shortly thereafter accepted an offer from The University of Virginia to be Writer in Residence for 8 to 10 weeks per year. He spl
it his time between 917 Rugby Road and Rowan Oak for the rest of his life. His views on patience in segregation kept him from being considered for permanent staff. The last novel of "The Snopes Trilogy," The Mansion was published by Random House in 1959
. The same year he transferred his manuscripts from The Princeton Library to Alderman Library at UVA. Mere months after the Random House publication of The Reivers, William Cuthbert Faulkner died on July 6, 1962 at Rowan Oak in his sleep from apparent
heart failure.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Upon The Reivers's June, 1962 release the novel experienced an interesting array of reception. The more "important" critics of the day "lambasted" Reivers as a mediocre piece of work while the "knuckleheads" suc
h as New York Times writer Orville Prescott and Book-of-the-Month Club News writer Fadiman hailed it as an overwhelming popular success-to-be. Those who lavished it with praise likened the novel to Twain's Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. Those who criticized
it's shortcomings looked at The Reivers next to Faulkner's previous, "more important" successes which many of them "hadn't liked much anyway" (1). Many critics expressed relief that Faulkner had begun to "mellow" by introducing a new sense of humor and b
y simplifying his trademark complex sentence structure. Still others commented that The Reivers was not a far departure, stylistically, from Faulkner's previous work.
The following excerpts are interestingly diverse examples of what Faulkner's Charlottesville written novel received from the literary media.
Taken from publications regional to the conception of The Reivers:
From The Virginia Quarterly Review: "Parallels with "Huckleberry Finn" are conspicuous, in a picaresque progress through eye-opening encounters with idiosyncratic folk" (2).
From The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot: "This is the most cheerful novel that Faulkner has ever written, a mellow reminiscence..." (3)
"For all the farce the chief ingredients of Faulkner's other novels, the evil and the indignation at evil are not lacking" (3).
"The writing is perhaps less tortuous than usual, but increasingly grammar is treated with an insouciant abandon, with sentences cut short in the midst of clauses, subjects stranded without verbs, the most elementary proofreading glaringly absent" (3).
"With each book it is cleared that Faulkner is one of those writers, like Dickens and Balzac and Dostoevsky, whose work must be considered as a whole. No single volume stands head and shoulders above the rest; the best of his books show his faults and t
he worst his merits, the total has the magnificence of a force of nature" (3).
From The Richmond Times: "There is much of Mark Twain and some of Mack Sennett here, but the book is unmistakable Faulkner--Keystone Cops or Jumping Frog plus the deeper meanings, for houses and automobiles are not the only stolen commodities; also rieven are innocence, illusion
s, beliefs..." (4)
"But this is not a ?serious' book; its comedy is significant and hilarious. Faulkner has been quoted as saying that this is about the funniest story hi's ever read. Blamed if I don't agree with him" (4).
Taken from Nationally distributed newspapers and literary reviews:
From The Washington Post: "Yet, looking back on this great cultural divide, Faulkner here himself seems to chuckle rather than lament..." (5).
"...one of the novelist's most genial works, the mellow end product of a lifetime of selective nostalgia" (5).
"Like all but the purest Vintage Faulkner, its fine bouquet suffers from an admixture of cork" (5).
"If at times this manner seems more important than the matter, it is nevertheless a splendid vehicle by which to convey the density of experience that is implicit in Southern life" (5).
"While The Reivers is not one of Faulkner's great novels, it is surely one of his most charming, and one most likely to win new readers who might flinch at more austere samples of his art" (5).
From The New York Times: "The good news about The Reivers is that it is one of the best novels Mr. Faulkner has written and much the most direct simple and readily-comprehensible" (6).
"The longest sentence is only 26 lines" (6).
From The Hudson Review: "The plot is loaded with improving cliches that one is almost inclined to write off the whole thing as a folksy entertainment of the type fondly remembered by old Saturday Evening Post devotees...Mr. Faulkner has diverted himself, in a word, by writing a
bit of hokum summer reading" (7).
"We find him entering upon an early-Kipling phase--shades of Mulvaney, Llearoyd, and Ortheris--which somehow one hadn't anticipated" (7).
From the great state of Texas negative reviews were published with such titles as:
"A Reiver is a Plunderer: Faulkner tells a New Tale with Fewer Semicolons" in the San Antonio Press and News (8)
and
"A Boring Pointless Mental Exercise" in the El Paso Times (9).
From the pages of more erudite criticism, Playboy published: "Non-Faulknerians will, as usual, have trouble with the master's convolutions of syntax, but even they will find themselves caught up in this fast moving tall tale peopled with Wholesome Whores, Southern Gentlemen, and other larger than life figures from
the mythology of Yoknapatawpha County" (10).
And, shaping the literary tastes of women of the early 1960's, McCalls's writes: "Mr. Faulkner's style is as complex as usual, and, before you get used to it, difficult to read--we think you'll find the first fifty pages or so tough going. But keep going, for The Reivers bears a close kinship to Huckleberry Finn. Both books, through
comedy, explore the ultraserious time when a child becomes a man" (11).
Although space limitations allow only a few excerpts here, over 200 reviews for the novel can be found in:
Bassett, J. William Faulkner: An Annotated Checklist of Criticism. New York: David Lewis, Inc. 1972. pp. 265-281.
Sources: 1. Karl, F. "William Faulkner: American Writer." New York: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 1989. p 1032.
2. Beck, W. "Told with Gusto." Virginia.Quarterly Review, 38 (Autumn 1962), 681-685.
3. Tunstall, C. "Faulkner Writes a Cheerful Odyssey." Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, June 3, 1962, p. 6-F.
4. Brown, I. "Wit Marks Faulkner's New Book." Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 1, 1962, p. 8-L.
5. Culligan, G. "Faulkner Still Tracks the Grail in Southern Accent." Washington Post, June 3, 1962, p. 6-E.
6. Prescott, O. "Books of the Times." New York Times, June 4, 1962, p. 27.
7. Adams, R. "Fiction Chronicle." Hudson Review, 15 (Autumn 1962). 423-425.
8. Holmesly, S. "A Reiver is a Plunderer: Faulkner tells a New Tale with Fewer Semicolons." San Antonio Express and News, June 3, 1962, p. 6-G.
9. Donnely, T. "Everything's Simple but the Syntax." Washington Daily News, June 1, 1962, p. 23-F.
10. Anonymous. "The Reivers." Playboy. August 1962, p. 24.
11. Anonymous. "Books." McCalls's. June 1962, pp. 12, 14.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Upon The Reivers's June, 1962 release the novel experienced an interesting array of reception. The more "important" critics of the day "lambasted" Reivers as a mediocre piece of work while the "knuckleheads" suc
h as New York Times writer Orville Prescott and Book-of-the-Month Club News writer Fadiman hailed it as an overwhelming popular success-to-be. Those who lavished it with praise likened the novel to Twain's Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. Those who criticized
it's shortcomings looked at The Reivers next to Faulkner's previous, "more important" successes which many of them "hadn't liked much anyway" (1). Many critics expressed relief that Faulkner had begun to "mellow" by introducing a new sense of humor and b
y simplifying his trademark complex sentence structure. Still others commented that The Reivers was not a far departure, stylistically, from Faulkner's previous work.
The following excerpts are interestingly diverse examples of what Faulkner's Charlottesville written novel received from the literary media.
Taken from publications regional to the conception of The Reivers:
From The Virginia Quarterly Review: "Parallels with "Huckleberry Finn" are conspicuous, in a picaresque progress through eye-opening encounters with idiosyncratic folk" (2).
From The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot: "This is the most cheerful novel that Faulkner has ever written, a mellow reminiscence..." (3)
"For all the farce the chief ingredients of Faulkner's other novels, the evil and the indignation at evil are not lacking" (3).
"The writing is perhaps less tortuous than usual, but increasingly grammar is treated with an insouciant abandon, with sentences cut short in the midst of clauses, subjects stranded without verbs, the most elementary proofreading glaringly absent" (3).
"With each book it is cleared that Faulkner is one of those writers, like Dickens and Balzac and Dostoevsky, whose work must be considered as a whole. No single volume stands head and shoulders above the rest; the best of his books show his faults and t
he worst his merits, the total has the magnificence of a force of nature" (3).
From The Richmond Times: "There is much of Mark Twain and some of Mack Sennett here, but the book is unmistakable Faulkner--Keystone Cops or Jumping Frog plus the deeper meanings, for houses and automobiles are not the only stolen commodities; also rieven are innocence, illusion
s, beliefs..." (4)
"But this is not a ?serious' book; its comedy is significant and hilarious. Faulkner has been quoted as saying that this is about the funniest story hi's ever read. Blamed if I don't agree with him" (4).
Taken from Nationally distributed newspapers and literary reviews:
From The Washington Post: "Yet, looking back on this great cultural divide, Faulkner here himself seems to chuckle rather than lament..." (5).
"...one of the novelist's most genial works, the mellow end product of a lifetime of selective nostalgia" (5).
"Like all but the purest Vintage Faulkner, its fine bouquet suffers from an admixture of cork" (5).
"If at times this manner seems more important than the matter, it is nevertheless a splendid vehicle by which to convey the density of experience that is implicit in Southern life" (5).
"While The Reivers is not one of Faulkner's great novels, it is surely one of his most charming, and one most likely to win new readers who might flinch at more austere samples of his art" (5).
From The New York Times: "The good news about The Reivers is that it is one of the best novels Mr. Faulkner has written and much the most direct simple and readily-comprehensible" (6).
"The longest sentence is only 26 lines" (6).
From The Hudson Review: "The plot is loaded with improving cliches that one is almost inclined to write off the whole thing as a folksy entertainment of the type fondly remembered by old Saturday Evening Post devotees...Mr. Faulkner has diverted himself, in a word, by writing a
bit of hokum summer reading" (7).
"We find him entering upon an early-Kipling phase--shades of Mulvaney, Llearoyd, and Ortheris--which somehow one hadn't anticipated" (7).
From the great state of Texas negative reviews were published with such titles as:
"A Reiver is a Plunderer: Faulkner tells a New Tale with Fewer Semicolons" in the San Antonio Press and News (8)
and
"A Boring Pointless Mental Exercise" in the El Paso Times (9).
From the pages of more erudite criticism, Playboy published: "Non-Faulknerians will, as usual, have trouble with the master's convolutions of syntax, but even they will find themselves caught up in this fast moving tall tale peopled with Wholesome Whores, Southern Gentlemen, and other larger than life figures from
the mythology of Yoknapatawpha County" (10).
And, shaping the literary tastes of women of the early 1960's, McCalls's writes: "Mr. Faulkner's style is as complex as usual, and, before you get used to it, difficult to read--we think you'll find the first fifty pages or so tough going. But keep going, for The Reivers bears a close kinship to Huckleberry Finn. Both books, through
comedy, explore the ultraserious time when a child becomes a man" (11).
Although space limitations allow only a few excerpts here, over 200 reviews for the novel can be found in:
Bassett, J. William Faulkner: An Annotated Checklist of Criticism. New York: David Lewis, Inc. 1972. pp. 265-281.
Sources: 1. Karl, F. "William Faulkner: American Writer." New York: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 1989. p 1032.
2. Beck, W. "Told with Gusto." Virginia.Quarterly Review, 38 (Autumn 1962), 681-685.
3. Tunstall, C. "Faulkner Writes a Cheerful Odyssey." Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, June 3, 1962, p. 6-F.
4. Brown, I. "Wit Marks Faulkner's New Book." Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 1, 1962, p. 8-L.
5. Culligan, G. "Faulkner Still Tracks the Grail in Southern Accent." Washington Post, June 3, 1962, p. 6-E.
6. Prescott, O. "Books of the Times." New York Times, June 4, 1962, p. 27.
7. Adams, R. "Fiction Chronicle." Hudson Review, 15 (Autumn 1962). 423-425.
8. Holmesly, S. "A Reiver is a Plunderer: Faulkner tells a New Tale with Fewer Semicolons." San Antonio Express and News, June 3, 1962, p. 6-G.
9. Donnely, T. "Everything's Simple but the Syntax." Washington Daily News, June 1, 1962, p. 23-F.
10. Anonymous. "The Reivers." Playboy. August 1962, p. 24.
11. Anonymous. "Books." McCalls's. June 1962, pp. 12, 14.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

Critical Analysis: William Faulkner's The Reivers

William Faulkner's 1962 best selling novel The Reivers is much different from most best sellers in that Faulkner had already been a celebrated American novelist for decades before its release. Interestingly, The Reivers was William Faulk
ner's only best selling novel in his entire career. However, his collection of novels has been canonized by academia. This presents an interesting problem: what made Faulkner's final novel a best seller when, since 1962, it has not received nearly the a
ttention from the academic world as have Faulkner novels like The Sound and the Fury, Requiem for a Nun, Sartoris, Light in August, and others?

1962 Praise of The Reivers

Upon publication, the novel became an immediate best seller. Reviewers from literary reviews such as Virginia Quarterly and Reader's Digest to daily news publications such as The Washington Post and The New York Times to po
pular magazines such as McCalls's and Playboy all had plenty to say about the master's newest novel, which was written in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was overwhelmingly praised as much easier to comprehend than any of his previous novels.
Perhaps the less enigmatic styling of Reivers contributed to it's popularity. As Prescott of the New York Times pointed out quite enthusiastically, "The longest sentence is only 26 lines." Others hailed the novel as a very light hearted
work. Many reviewers were quite pleased to see this particular change in the writing of Faulkner. In general, reviewers tended to agree that the novels of Faulkner had been, before Reivers, traditionally dark works. Much to the delight of many r
eviewers, Blacks and women were treated much less harshly within the context of this particular novel than Faulkner had treated them previously. Indeed, it is the rascally Boon Hogganbeck, a white, who is portrayed as a buffoon in the novel. Ned William
McCaslin, a Black (whom the fly leaf calls "a Negro"), proves to be a rather wily character. This novel leaves out women like we find in Sound and the Fury such as Mrs. Compson, a notorious hypochondriac, for virtuous prostitutes who have hearts
of gold. Perhaps readers were impressed as much as the reviewers by Faulkner's thematic diversion from the loss of the "Old South." Indeed, in this particular novel, Faulkner dwells less on the loss of the grandeur of the South of his childhood as he ha
d in any previous work. It was interpreted by many reviewers as an acceptance of the changes that the American South had undertaken. I think that all of these factors certainly contributed to making Reivers a best seller. It makes sense that a s
hift in Faulkner's writing style or thematic direction would change the sales of his work; Far more people read this different type of Faulkner than ever before.

Public Persona of Faulkner

Faulkner had been, throughout his writing career, a very private man, especially when it came to his family life. This is rather interesting considering that most of his novels are in some way genealogical of the Falkner family (he changed his name to
Faulkner after he began publishing). By the time Reivers was published, Faulkner had gained notoriety as an academically accepted writer. By 1962, his writing had helped define what we refer to now as Modernist. After winning the Pulitzer and N
obel Prizes, Faulkner became somewhat of an American ambassador to the rest of the world; during the 1950's he traveled around the globe to give speeches and meet with various dignitaries. When his final novel was published Faulkner had lived in Charlot
tesville, Virginia for many years, teaching as the writer in residence at The University of Virginia. However, the administration of The University did not hold him in as high regard as the literary world. Even in the late 1950's and early 1960's when T
he University was years from racial integration, the administration disliked Faulkner's old-school , traditional American South racial views. By the time Reivers was published, William Faulkner was a well known alcoholic and spent many separate vi
sits in sanitariums in both Mississippi and Virginia. He disliked writing Hollywood screenplays, yet composed many including an adaptation of Ernest Hemmingway's novel To Have and to Have Not; while the novel was his most successful medium in the
long run, screenplays payed much more handsomely.

I don't think that, however, that William Faulkner's public perception had much to do with Reiversbecoming a best seller. If the audience liked his personality previously, they certainly did not show it by buying his earlier books. Likewise, h
is personality as a lush and a racist did not stop the novel from becoming a best seller.

Events Contemporary to Publication

Published in 1962, Reivers coincided with the early stages of the American civil rights movement. Perhaps a novel which was, at the time, considered such a turn around from Faulkner's traditional sexism and racism inspired some sort of hope in
the reading world. Perhaps Reivers was less offensive to an increasingly liberal audience. Certainly, the novel was not a best seller because it was better written than his previous works.

Books Compared to Reivers

Reivers was most often compared by reviewers to the work of Mark Twain, specifically The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The surface comparison, I think, is quite obvious. Both novels deal with the Mississippi area. Both works are of t
he road, or travel, genre. Young White youths travel, and come of age with, older Black men in both Reivers and Huck Finn. Both novels contain many events where the characters participate in "hi jinx" and hoodwinking of other characters.
However, continuing with the tradition of addressing Reivers as a member of the entire Faulkner cannon of novels, it is important to note that this particular light hearted novel was out of character of Faulkner; Twain, on the other hand, was know
n for his role as defining the American satire. I really don't think it fair to compare Reivers to other best sellers. Faulkner was first and foremost a Modernist. With the exception of Lillian Smith's novel Strange Fruit I have yet to fi
nd an example of the Modern on the best sellers list. Perhaps there is something about Realism that appeals to the American reader, but Faulkner certainly is almost peerless (speaking of genre) among best sellers. I see more Holden Caulfield (from J.D.
Salinger's Catcher in the Rye) and Stephen Deadalus (from James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man)in Lucius Priest (the main character of Faulkner's novel) than I see Huckleberry Finn. It is, again, more appropriate to compare t
his novel to other works by Faulkner--or at least to other Modernist texts.

The most interesting comparison of Reivers to another text came, again, from the novel's 1962 reviews. That is, the comparison of Faulkner's last novel to William Shakespeare's final play, The Tempest. It has been long said that Tem
pest
was, in fact, meant to be Shakespeare's farewell to play writing. Faulkner died in 1962, however was alive when the novel was published in the same year. It would not be fair, I think, to call this a farewell novel considering Faulkner did not
know that this would be his last published work. However, that this particular novel is so different than any of his previous works, it is interesting to consider that Faulkner was possibly evolving into a new type of writer towards the end of his career
. If this is the case however, literary scholars would tend to disagree; Reivers has been, in retrospect, paid far less attention to than any other novel by Faulkner since its 1962 release.


Duration of Popularity

William Faulkner's final novel did not remain on the best sellers list for more than a year. The length of it's stay may have been due to Faulkner's death shortly after the novel's publication; perhaps the authors death may have spurred sales, although
it is important to note that Reivers was on the list before Faulkner's death. Even though it has not remained one of the more popular works in the Faulkner cannon, Reivers has maintained a presence (however weak) in academia. This is prima
rily, I think, because Faulkner's works as a whole are looked at more than individually.


Resurgence of Popularity

This novel never returned to the best seller list after 1962. However, the novel was made into a successful feature film in 1969 starring action star Steve McQueen. I can find no increase in sales figures for this year nor evidence of the film being
market as a novel by William Faulkner. Faulkner wrote the screenplay, and his name appears so in the credits of the film.


Conclusion

The popularity of William Faulkner's final novel is difficult to explain. I think that it was due in large part to Faulkner actually writing something that the average American consumer of literature could comprehend. Reivers is certainly a de
parture from Faulkner's usual enigmatic and verbose style. I believe that in this novel Faulkner offered a more mellow and generally happy product than the public was used to. It is important to point out that even though this text is "watered down" Fau
lkner, it is still a Modernist text. It is not surprising, therefore, that readers of popular texts lost interest once and for all after only one year.

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