Prop & Pillar

Tantalising references in a recent article by George Weigel made me go and read William Faulkner’s banquet speech given in Stockholm on 10 December 1950, after he had received the Nobel Prize. This remarkable statement is addressed to writers, but really concerns us all:

‘[Man] 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.’