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Professor’s new book highlights William Faulkner

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Abby Taylor

Assistant News Editor

Kirk Curnutt, professor and chair of the English department, recently wrote “William Faulkner (Critical Lives),” in which he looks into the life and writings of William Faulkner.

“The book is a part of a series of books called ‘Critical Lives,’ and they’re basically pocket biographies,” Curnutt said. 

The “Critical Lives” series is done about notable figures such as Frida Kahlo, John Ruskin, James Joyce and Tennessee Williams.

Reaktion Books, a publishing company based in England, published Curnutt’s book and because of that, Curnutt said the series does not include many works about Americans.

“Coming from a British publisher, it’s a lot of philosophers and writers and sort of major thinkers,” he said. “If (the publisher) is going to do an American writer, it’s got to be somebody whose influence extends beyond America.”

Curnutt was asked to write the story on William Faulkner and began his research on the topic. The book is based on existing biographies of Faulkner that Curnutt found in his research.

“Anything original in there has more to do with the interpretation (he had) on the books,” he said.

Throughout his career, Curnutt has researched Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, which he said prepared him for his research on Faulkner.

“(The book) really tries to connect the life and the writings of Faulkner,” Curnutt said. “It’s really kind of a biography. It kind of follows his life story, but it looks at how the stories were produced.”

Curnutt has implemented the works of Faulkner from his book into his modern novel class he is teaching this semester.

“I also wanted to make sure that our students didn’t wait as long in life as I did to really buckle down and get to know all of Faulkner,” he said. “For people who know absolutely nothing about Faulkner, this might be a book you can pick up and read it in a brief amount of time.”

Students can pick up a copy of the book on campus at Barnes & Noble. For more information on the “Critical Lives” series, go to https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/series/RB-CL.html.