The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil War by Michael Gorra was a beautiful and exhaustive analysis of the literary works of William Faulkner examined in the light of the influence of the Civil War on Faulkner’s fiction.
The Saddest Words offers a wealth of history, literary review, and biographical examination, all tied to the relevance of current national events.
While clearly the product of an experienced academician, Gorra’s organization and writing style make the heavily referenced content accessible and clear.
Blending Civil War primary sources, Faulkner’s own text, and literary criticism, Gorra helps the reader see how the weight of the social memory of the Civil War infuses Faulkner’s works.
“Gorra’s book, as he writes in his preface, is ‘an act of citizenship,’ timely and essential as we confront, once again, the question of who is a citizen and who among us should enjoy its privileges,” said Ayana Mathis in a review for The New York Times.
Mathis, a 2020-21 American Academy in Berlin Prize fellow, is the author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.