Freedom and Faulkner’s Nobel Address 1950

The 4th of July honors ideas born in freedom, and movement of the mind and of the soul, not to mention movement of the body, sponsored by freedom.  I remember some July 4th evenings in motion, in the car, driving along American highways in the evening with my family, singing American songs together, the sky supporting silent flashes of fireworks.

Our big, sprawling American experiment in freedom may be celebrated in motion or from a perspective of distance, from some other place in the world where art and ideas grow out of other ground, not from freedom-rich American soil.

In 1950 William Faulkner received the Nobel Prize for literature in Stockholm.  In his acceptance speech he spoke in an authentic American author’s voice, meaning one that is not afraid to name the noblest things known by the human heart.

I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.  –William Faulkner

3 thoughts on “Freedom and Faulkner’s Nobel Address 1950

  1. Beautiful. My ancestors fought at Lexington and Concord and cleared some of the first roads in New England. It’s so hard to imagine sailing an ocean, jumping off and building a country–not to mention fighting for it.


  2. “Ideas born in freedom” and “movement of the mind and soul.” Beautifully expressed. Fitting for the 4th July. I love Faulkner’s sheer belief and confidence in humanity, though sometimes I despair.


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