Home  »  Respectfully Quoted  »  William Faulkner (1897–1962)

Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1145
AUTHOR: William Faulkner (1897–1962)
QUOTATION: I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he 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.
ATTRIBUTION: WILLIAM FAULKNER, address upon receiving the Nobel Prize for literature, Stockholm, Sweden, December 10, 1950.—Faulkner, Essays, Speeches & Public Letters, p. 120 (1951).

This text is from Faulkner’s original typescript; it was slightly revised from that which he delivered in Stockholm, and which was published in American newspapers at the time (p. 121).