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A collection of William Faulkner quotes about past, poetry, future, parenting, knowledge, talent, money and much more.

100 Profound William Faulkner Quotes You Need To Know

Quick Facts

Famous As: Writer, Nobel Laureate

Born On: September 25, 1897

Died On: July 6, 1962

Born In: New Albany, Mississippi, U.S

Died At Age: 64

One of the most celebrated American authors, William Faulkner was a Nobel Prize winning novelist. Faulkner, who's known for his exemplary contribution to Southern literature, wrote challenging prose and write-ups. Despite tough competition by Fitzgerald and Hemingway, this Mississippi born writer created a new identity for himself through the apocryphal 'Yoknapatawpha County'. Based on the legend of Lafayette County, Faulkner created Yoknapatawpha for fifty of his novels except 'A Fable', 'Soldier's Pay', 'The Wild Palms' and 'Pylon'. Faulkner highlighted major controversial matters related to class, race, sex and social ideologies in his best works-- 'The Sound and the Fury', 'Sanctuary', 'As I Lay Dying''Light in August', 'The Reivers' and 'A Rose for Emily'. A thorough humanitarian as he was, he donated a part of his Nobel money to Oxford bank for funding education of African-American teachers and creating the Faulkner Award for Fiction writing. This two-times Pulitzer and U.S. National Prize winner received a special mention in acceptance speech delivered by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The US postal services issued an exclusive 22-cent postal stamp in his honor, for he served as a postmaster at Mississippi University.

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Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.

William Faulkner

You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.

William Faulkner

We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.

William Faulkner

Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.

William Faulkner

The past is never dead. It's not even past.

William Faulkner

Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing, I would choose pain.

William Faulkner

In writing, you must kill all your darlings.

William Faulkner

The saddest thing about love, Joe, is that not only the love cannot last forever, but even the heartbreak is soon forgotten.

William Faulkner

Perhaps they were right putting love into books. Perhaps it could not live anywhere else.

William Faulkner

Talk, talk, talk: the utter and heartbreaking stupidity of words.

William Faulkner

The next time you try to seduce anyone, don't do it with talk, with words. Women know more about words than men ever will. And they know how little they can ever possibly mean.

William Faulkner

How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.

William Faulkner

I feel like a wet seed wild in the hot blind earth.

William Faulkner

I'm bad and I'm going to hell, and I don't care. I'd rather be in hell than anywhere where you are.

William Faulkner

Don't be 'a writer'. Be writing.

William Faulkner

Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.

William Faulkner

Wonder. Go on and wonder.

William Faulkner

If a story is in you, it has to come out.

William Faulkner

Dreams have only one owner at a time. That's why dreamers are lonely.

William Faulkner

Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.

William Faulkner

You can't beat women anyhow and that if you are wise or dislike trouble and uproar you don't even try to.

William Faulkner

Pouring out liquor is like burning books.

William Faulkner

You don’t love because: you love despite; not for the virtues, but despite the faults.

William Faulkner

Once a bitch always a bitch, what I say.

William Faulkner

My mother is a fish.

William Faulkner

Unless you're ashamed of yourself now and then, you're not honest

William Faulkner

Most men are a little better than their circumstances give them a chance to be.

William Faulkner

It's not when you realise that nothing can help you - religion, pride, anything - it's when you realise that you don't need any aid.

William Faulkner

A writer must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid.

William Faulkner

A man is the sum of his misfortunes. One day you'd think misfortune would get tired but then time is your misfortune

William Faulkner

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.

William Faulkner

War and drink are the two things man is never too poor to buy.

William Faulkner

It takes two people to make you, and one people to die. That's how the world is going to end.

William Faulkner

The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.

William Faulkner

Some days in late August at home are like this, the air thin and eager like this, with something in it sad and nostalgic and familiar...

William Faulkner

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station….

William Faulkner

Memory believes before knowing remembers. [Light in August]

William Faulkner

The best fiction is far more true than any journalism.

William Faulkner

The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

William Faulkner

There is no was.

William Faulkner

I never know what I think about something until I read what I've written on it.

William Faulkner

...the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time.

William Faulkner

It is the writer's privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart.

William Faulkner

If happy I can be I will, if suffer I must I can.

William Faulkner

A gentleman accepts the responsibility of his actions and bears the burden of their consequences.

William Faulkner

Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything good.

William Faulkner

She loved him not only in spite of but because he himself was incapable of love.

William Faulkner

Caddy got the box and set it on the floor and opened it. It was full of stars. When I was still, they were still. When I moved, they glinted and sparkled. I hushed.

William Faulkner

The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself

William Faulkner

Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.

William Faulkner

Memory believes before knowing remembers.

William Faulkner

An artist is a creature driven by demons. He doesn't know why they choose him and he's usually too busy to wonder why.

William Faulkner

People to whom sin is just a matter of words, to them salvation is just words too.

William Faulkner

You can't. You just have to.

William Faulkner

The problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat

William Faulkner

The artist doesn't have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don't have the time to read reviews.

William Faulkner

I could just remember how my father used to say that the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time.

William Faulkner

You intend to kiss me and yet you are going to all this damn trouble about it.

William Faulkner

I'd have wasted a lot of time and trouble before I learned that the best way to take all people, black or white, is to take them for what they think they are, then leave them alone.

William Faulkner

And sure enough, even waiting will end...if you can just wait long enough.

William Faulkner

Now she hates me. I have taught her that, at least.

William Faulkner

We have to start teaching ourselves not to be afraid.

William Faulkner

Everything in Los Angeles is too large, too loud and usually banal in concept… The plastic asshole of the world.

William Faulkner

Dear God, let me be damned a little longer, a little while.

William Faulkner

Love doesn't die; the men and women do.

William Faulkner

It's all now you see: tomorrow began yesterday and yesterday won't be over until tomorrow.

William Faulkner

You should approach Joyce's Ulysses as the illiterate Baptist preacher approaches the Old Testament: with faith.

William Faulkner

And I will look down and see my murmuring bones and the deep water like wind, like a roof of wind, and after a long time they cannot distinguish even bones upon the lonely and inviolate sand.

William Faulkner

I love Virginians because Virginians are all snobs and I like snobs. A snob has to spend so much time being a snob that he has little time left to meddle with you.

William Faulkner

The reason you will not say it is, when you say it, even to yourself, you will know it is true.

William Faulkner

Between grief and nothing, I will take grief.

William Faulkner

He was looking at her from behind the smiling that wasn't smiling but was something you were not supposed to see beyond.

William Faulkner

A mule will labor ten years willingly and patiently for you, for the privilege of kicking you once.

William Faulkner

This does not matter. This is not anything yet. It all depends on what you do with it, afterward.

William Faulkner

Henry James was one of the nicest old ladies I ever met.

William Faulkner

It's terrible to be young. It's terrible. Terrible

William Faulkner

Caddy smelled like trees.

William Faulkner

Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.

William Faulkner

She was the captain of her soul

William Faulkner

History is not was, it is.

William Faulkner

I am not one of those women who can stand things.

William Faulkner

I say money has no value; it's just the way you spend it.

William Faulkner

War is an episode, a crisis, a fever the purpose of which is to rid the body of fever. So the purpose of a war is to end the war.

William Faulkner

I know now that what makes a fool is an inability to take even his own good advice.

William Faulkner

And even a liar can be scared into telling the truth, same as honest man can be tortured into telling a lie.

William Faulkner

I am trying to say it all in one sentence, between one cap and one period.

William Faulkner

It's always the idle habits you acquire which you will regret. Father said that. That Christ was not crucified: he was worn away by a minute clicking of little wheels. That had no sister.

William Faulkner

I suppose that people, using themselves and each other so much by words, are at least consistent in attributing wisdom to a still tongue...

William Faulkner

Everyone in the South has no time for reading because they are all too busy writing.

William Faulkner

To live anywhere in the world today and be against equality because of race or color is like living in Alaska and being against snow.

William Faulkner

My, my. A body does get around.

William Faulkner

She clung to that which had robbed her, as people do.

William Faulkner

She is like all the rest of them. Whether they are seventeen or fortyseven, when they finally come to surrender completely, it's going to be in words.

William Faulkner

If you could just ravel out into time. That would be nice. It would be nice if you could just ravel out into time

William Faulkner

A writer is congenitally unable to tell the truth and that is why we call what he writes fiction.

William Faulkner

The scattered tea goes with the leaves and every day a sunset dies.

William Faulkner

Any live man is better than any dead man but no live or dead man is very much better than any other live or dead man

William Faulkner

When I have one martini, I feel bigger, wiser, taller. When I have a second, I feel superlative. When I have more, there's no holding me.

William Faulkner

I took out my watch and listened to it clicking away, not knowing it couldn't even lie

William Faulkner

To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi.

William Faulkner