10 Impactful Quotes From Nobel Prize Winner William Faulkner

As a Nobel Prize laureate, William Faulkner is one of the most acclaimed American writers of all time. And as these quotes will show, it’s for good reason.

Book Culture Classics Favorite Quotes On This Day

William Faulkner is celebrated as the greatest writer of Southern literature. He is best known for his novels and short stories set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, based off of a real county in Mississippi. Some of his most acclaimed works include, As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, and Absolam, Absolam!. In 1949, his powerful and unique contributions to American literature won him the Nobel Prize in Literature. Celebrate the Nobel prize winner with these impactful quotes.

These 10 quotes from Faulkner give us a glimpse into the depth and creativity that Faulkner commanded when he wrote.


“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.” 


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


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


“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.” 


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


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


“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.”


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


“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”


“Unless you’re ashamed of yourself now and then, you’re not honest.”

William Faulkner accepting the Noble Prize in Literature

These quotes clearly showcase Faulkner’s immense gift for writing, and it is quite easy to see why he won the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature.

However, even with all of his literary successes, Faulkner unfortunately held very racist beliefs. While he was against the atrocious institution of slavery, he also openly opposed desegregation. If only he could have put into practice more of the sentiments that he wrote on, specifically in regards to fighting for freedom, equality, and justice. Nevertheless, his legacy will always live on through his celebrated works, and he will be remembered as one of the greatest American novelists of his time.

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