American novelist and short-story writer who was awarded the 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature for his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel. • He wrote works of psychological drama and emotional depth, typically with long serpentine prose and high, meticulously-chosen diction,also using groundbreaking literary devices such as stream of consciousness, multiple narrations or points of view, and time-shifts within narrative. • The general ambience of the South. Mississippi marked his sense of humor, his sense of the tragic position of Blacks and Whites, his keen characterization of usual Southern characters and his timeless themes, one of them being that fiercely intelligent people dwelled behind the facade of good old boys and simpletons. • Faulkner was known rather infamously for his drinking problem as well, and throughout his life was known to be an alcoholic.
Faulkner's most celebrated novels include • The Sound and the Fury (1929) • As I Lay Dying (1930) • Light in August (1932) • The Unvanquished (1938) • Absalom, Absalom! (1936), usually considered his masterpiece. • His first short story collection, These 13 (1931), includes many of his most acclaimed (and most frequently anthologized) stories, including "A Rose for Emily," "Red Leaves," "That Evening Sun," and "Dry September." • During the 1930s, in an effort to make money, Faulkner crafted a sensationalist "pulp" novel entitled Sanctuary. Its themes of evil and corruption (bearing Southern Gothic tones), resonate to this day. A sequel to the book, Requiem for a Nun, is the only play that he has published. It involves an introduction that is actually one sentence that spans for a couple pages. • a National Book Award (posthumously) for his Collected Stories.
Since the 1890s, an undercurrent of social protest had coursed through American literature, welling up in the naturalism of Stephen Crane and Theodore Dreiser and in the clear messages of the muckraking novelists. • Later socially engaged authors included Sinclair Lewis, John Steinbeck, John Dos Passos, Richard Wright, and the dramatist Clifford Odets. • They were linked to the 1930s in their concern for the welfare of the common citizen and their focus on groups of people -- the professions, as in Sinclair Lewis's archetypal Arrowsmith (a physician) or Babbitt (a local businessman); families, as in Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath; or urban masses, as Dos Passos accomplishes through his 11 major characters in his U.S.A. trilogy.
Sinclair Lewis, the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930 for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters, was born in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, in 1885. • Probably the greatest satirist of his era, Lewis wrote novels that present a devastating picture of middle-class American life in the 1920s. Although he ridiculed the values, the lifestyles, and even the speech of his characters, there is affection behind the irony. • He was the conscience of his generation and he could well serve as the conscience of our own. His analysis of the America of the 1920s holds true for the America of today. His prophecies have become our truths and his fears our most crucial problems." • Lewis began his career as a journalist, editor, and hack writer. With the publication of Main Street (1920), a merciless satire on life in a Midwestern small town, Lewis immediately became an important literary figure. His next novel, Babbitt (1922), considered by many critics to be his greatest work, is a scathing portrait of an average American businessman, a Republican and a Rotarian, whose individuality has been erased by conformist values.
Sinclair Lewis was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Main Street and Babbitt, and won the award for Arrowsmith (although he turned it down). • Arrowsmith (1925) satirizes the medical profession. • Elmer Gantry (1927) attacks hypocritical religious revivalism. • Dodsworth (1929), a more mellow work, is a sympathetic picture of a wealthy American businessman in Europe; it was successfully dramatized by Lewis and Sidney Howard in 1934. • During his lifetime he published 22 novels, and it is generally agreed that his later novels are far less successful than his early fiction. Among his later works are It Can’t Happen Here (1935), Cass Timberlane (1945), Kingsblood Royal (1947), and World So Wide (1951). • From 1928 to 1942 Lewis was married to Dorothy Thompson (1894–1961), a distinguished newspaperwoman and foreign correspondent. He died in Rome in 1951.