These 13:
The Significance of Faulkner's Collection of Short Stories


In the latter half of his career, William Faulkner wrote some novels which mainly consisted of, or had developed out of, his short stories. The Unvanquished(1938), The Hamlet(1940), and Go Down, Moses(1942) are some examples. Meanwhile, Faulkner published several collections of short stories during his writing career: These 13(1931), Dr. Martino and Other Short Stories(1934), Knight's Gambit(1949), The Collected Short Stories of William Faulkner(1950). What is the status of these collections of short stories in relation to the rest of Faulkner's work? Does each of his collections of short stories per se assume a special significance apart from being simply a gathering of short stories? The critical interest in a short story sequence is apparent both in modern literature and in recent literary criticism. This essay examines the significance of Faulkner's collected short stories, especially his first collection, These 13, in relationship to the bulk of his short stories and short story sequence type novels.
     These 13 was published in 1931, during the most productive and important period (1928-32), according to Hans Skei, for Faulkner's short story career. Faulkner's motive for publishing collected short stories is often attributed to his need of quick cash. Dr. Martino and Other Stories is cited as a typical example. But Michael Millgate and Noel Polk respectively come to the conclusion that These 13 is a unified, carefully arranged collection (Millgate 259, Polk 29). We will first discuss Faulkner's ambiguous attitude to the genre of short stories in relationship to his unflagging efforts to publish his stories in commercial magazines. Then, following the overview of recent criticism on short story sequences (or cycles), we will locate These 13 among Faulkner's works. These 13 did not directly influence his later short story sequence novels as a literary form. However, while Faulkner struggled between art and commercialism in the publication of his short stories on mass market magazines, the collection of short stories presumably convinced him of the possibility of continuing communication between the author and the reader, and encouraged him to develop the short story sequence type novel. In addition, the stories in These 13 are arranged to present the shared themes and clarified problems, which lead Faulkner in the direction of his next novel Light in August.
     Faulkner exhibited contradictory attitudes towards the short story. In 1957 at the University of Virginia, Faulkner said this about short stories: "In a short story that's next to the poem, almost every word has got to be almost exactly right. In the novel you can be careless but in the short story you can't. . . . That's why I rate that second-it's because it demands a nearer absolute exactitude. You have less room to be slovenly and careless. There's less room in it for trash. In poetry, of course, there's no room at all for trash. It's got to be absolutely impeccable, absolutely perfect" (FU 207). In other words, short stories come next to poetry, which occupies the most glorious position in literature for its artistic intensity and perfection. Faulkner makes a similar remark on other occasions, but the comment sounds somewhat formal and commonplace, as if he quotes from Edgar Allan Poe.
     Faulkner's love/ hate relationship with short stories is more palpable in the early and middle stages of his career. In 1928 Faulkner wrote to Alfred Dashiel, the editor of Scribner's Magazine: "I am quite sure that I have no feeling for short stories, that I shall never be able to write them, yet for some strange reason I continue to do so, and to try them on Scribners' with unflagging optimism" (SL 42). (We must remember, of course, that this letter was written by a writer whose short stories were rejected time and again by Scribner's). In 1948, Faulkner declared to a reporter from the New York Herald Tribune: "I never wrote a short story I liked." When he was asked if he didn't like "The Bear," he said yes, but he added that he didn't "call that a short story. A short story is 3,000 words or less. Anything more is, well, a piece of writing" (LG 59).
     Faulkner's complicated sense of antagonism and doubt towards short stories sounds plausible for two reasons. For one thing, Faulkner may not have liked a limited number of words allowed for a short story, since his literary style is characterized with growth, development and continuing relatedness. Second, we might take into consideration the typically sarcastic view of his contemporary writers towards commercial magazines. In 1929, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote to Hemingway that "the Post now pay the old whore $4000. a screw. But now its [sic] because she's mastered the 40 positions-in her youth one was enough" (F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters, 169). (By the way, Faulkner received $750 for "Red Leaves" from the Saturday Evening Post in 1930. He was paid $200 for "Dry September" by Scribner's in 1931). Earning money by writing for commercial magazines was an urgent but humiliating job for a proud artist. Faulkner also needed money, especially after he married Estelle in 1929. In 1934, he wrote a harsh comment to Morton Gordon, who served as his literary agent at the time, about the short story he sent to the Post. ". . . while I have to write trash, I don't care who buys it, as long as they pay the best price I can get"(SL 84).
     It has been proven in many ways that Faulkner did want to have his short stories published in the commercial magazines. Faulkner usually sent his manuscript to the Post first, regardless of whether the content matched the character of the magazine, because the Post paid the highest and promptly at acceptance of the manuscript (Meriwether 461-62). Faulkner also consented to rewrite his manuscript when the editor wanted some changes. The most famous example is his final acceptance of H. L. Mencken's request of deletion and change of some phrases in "That Evening Sun," in order to publish it in the American Mercury (SL 49). Philip Weinstein points out the stereotypical description of Lucas Beauchamp as a comic, trouble-making African American in "A Point of Law" or "Gold Is Not Always," the magazine versions of short stories later rewritten for GDM (Weinstein 239). Walter Wenska compares Faulkner's style in Sanctuary with the common expressions and ideas used in the detective stories of the Black Mask, the most popular contemporary magazine of the genre. Wenska's examination proves Faulkner's indebtedness to the popular magazines for entering the short story market.1
     On the other hand, John Matthews concludes that Faulkner's criticism of commercialism is sharpened due to his bitter experiences with the mass market magazines (Matthews 3-4). Matthews sees typical examples in the Snopes's stories. Accordingly, whether Faulkner complied with the editor's request or whether he criticized the commercialism, short stories forced the artist to face capitalist society through his negotiations with commercial magazines. He could afford to present his eulogy on the artistic quality of short stories only after he was established as a Nobel Prize winner.
     Faulkner's experiences with short stories, however, were not only trying but also rewarding in his artistic career. Gradually around the time of Absalom, Absalom!(1936), his fiction begins to adopt the form of short story sequence. He started working for Hollywood since 1932 and did not have enough time or energy to concentrate on a long, massive novel. The Unvanquished, The Hamlet, and Go Down, Moses all make use of the short stories he had published by incorporating them into a novel. While it is makeshift in a way, the short story sequence opens up a way for new possibilities, since this form demands reexamination, selection, development and new structuring of the stories. As a matter of fact, The Sound and the Fury(1929) and As I Lay Dying(1930), his early masterpieces, also utilize some elements of a short story sequence with a variety of different narrators. Faulkner says that he started writing The Sound and the Fury as a short story, which needed different points of views and extended into a novel (LG 146-47). His novels had the aesthetic potentiality for a short story sequence from the early stage of his novel career. The financial emergency and the necessity to negotiate with commercial magazines unwittingly contributed to his further exploration of the form. The present popularity of a short story sequence is attributed partly to the comparatively easy access to short story publications for a writer.2 In this sense, Faulkner is one of the writers who led the way to develop the form of a novel as a short story sequence out of financial necessity.

     The short story sequence has recently drawn the critical attention as a genre due to its popularity among the writers ranging from Raymond Carver to Maxim Hong Kingston and Sandra Cisneros. Even though the origin of the short story sequence may be traced as far back as Chaucer or earlier, the frequent use of the form in the twentieth Century inspired Forrest L. Ingram to write a book, Representative Short Story Cycles of the Twentieth Century: Studies in a Literary Genre. He uses the word "cycle" rather than "sequence," and classifies the genre into three types according to the degree of the author's premeditation and planning. In any case, however, he emphasizes that the stories as a whole must have some kind of repetition and development (Ingram 20).
     Robert M. Luscher, on the other hand, uses the term "sequence" in his essay "Short Story Sequence: an Open Book." Luscher prefers "sequence" to "cycle" because the term "sequence" emphasizes the "successiveness" (Luscher 149) among stories rather than the unity of the whole. His stance is more reader-oriented than Ingram's: he recognizes the importance of the reader's insight to see the relatedness among the stories, while Ingram respects the author's plan or arrangement for integration.
     J. Gerald Kennedy adopted Luscher's term when he edited Modern American Short Story Sequences, and provided the book with postcolonial points of view. Kennedy points out that the relationship of each short story to the group as a whole is similar to that of an individual to her / his community: each member or each story keeps independence but influences each other in the group, and a short story sequence may well deal with the relationship of an individual to community (194-95). Hertha D. Wong in this book discusses Louise Erdrich and argues that minority women writers tend to return to their local community to search for their identity and creative expression, and adopt a short story sequence for this purpose (184). Kennedy suggests, on the other hand, that white middle class male writers often describe an individual's alienation from the community as well as its decline in the same genre (xiv). The short story sequence as a genre is quite effective in exploring the subtle balance between the individual and the community, though the point of emphasis might vary according to the writer's ethnic and other backgrounds. Further, the short story sequence calls into question the relationship between the author and the reader more sharply, just as the different opinions on the definition shows. One may use the term "cycle" to suggest unity or adopt "sequence" to assert the mutual link between each story.
     In terms of Faulkner's texts and the short story sequence, Susan Donaldson emphasizes the significance of diversity in Go Down, Moses. In spite of the critics' comparative neglect of this text in the past for its apparent lack of unity, Donaldson asserts GDM deserves attention as a short story sequence with its postcolonial protest against authority and a unified center.3 How, then, can These 13, a more loosely collected short stories, be interpreted? Forest Ingram would classify These 13 as "arranged," the least premeditated type of short story cycles. Is there some unity or deliberate disunity, which distinguishes this collection of short stories from each independent short story? And does the first collection influence Faulkner's way of creative process in anyway? If so, how does the structure of the collection define the relationship of the author to the readers, and how does the collection work upon his texts to come?

     When Faulkner planned The Collected Stories of William Faulkner after World War II, he wrote that he would "try to give this volume an integrated form of its own, like the Moses book if possible, or at least These 13." (SLSL 278). Judging from these comments, Faulkner must have thought that he achieved a certain kind of unity in These 13.
     Faulkner signed the contract for the publication of These 13 with Cape and Smith in May 1931, and the book was published in September. Sanctuary, published in February the same year, had made Faulkner notorious for sex and violence. In August the same year, he started writing Light in August. It was a good time to publish a book of short stories because of his notoriety, but the opportunity was not only financially welcome. He had written a fair amount of short stories, some of which had already been published in commercial magazines. In the middle of his busy job of sending manuscripts to (and often receiving the rejections from) the magazines, he could stop and think what he had been writing and where he was going when he selected pieces to be included in his first collection of short stories.
     It is generally agreed that Faulkner's awareness of race problems became apparent in Light in August for the first time in his career. His concerns for minorities, however, had already taken a palpable form in These 13. The stories of Part II in These 13 are usually located in Jefferson, a small Southern town, but half of six stories in Part II present minorities as main characters ("Red Leaves," "A Justice," and "That Evening Sun"). The rest of Part II also depends much on women (Emily Grierson in "A Rose for Emily," Minnie Cooper in "Dry September"), an outsider (Hawkshaw in "Hair") and an African American (Will Mayes) in "Dry September." These minority characters respectively play an important role in each story, but except for an African American slave in "Red Leaves," their sufferings and their inner minds are not directly revealed to the reader. In Part I and III, admittedly, main characters are white men. But the heroes of Part I are soldiers or ex-soldiers, forlorn outcasts from the ordinary world, and in Part III, "Don and I" are young strangers traveling in Europe. The narrator of "Carcassonne," the last story, is a tramp-poet. All the main characters in These 13 are, more or less, outsiders from society.
     These outsiders' friction with or alienation from the community indicates an inevitable confrontation with the patriarchy, whether in Southern society or a national state, or western culture. Each of the collected short stories questions the patriarch: one story suggests the graduate demise of patriarchy and expresses anxiety for its loss, and another defies and protests the patriarchal authority. Faulkner might not have been fully conscious of the common theme before he arranged the stories for a collection. Each World War I story as an independent story has some sentimental element: the photo of World War I pilots in the beginning of "All the Dead Pilots," or Alec Gray, the ex-officer selling matches in the last scene of "Victory," is quite pathetic. But the World War I stories as a whole are more eloquent in their indictment of the authority of the nation state and the army system.
     In "Victory," Alec Gray from Scotland goes to World War I, ignoring his father's admonition that he had better stay home and inherit the familial business of ship building. Alec's grandfather, however, supports his decision and praises the honor of serving the Queen. Here Alec would identify himself with the national authority of Great Britain rather than with his father in Scotland. When Alec is promoted as a subaltern-captain during the war, he assumes the role of a strict colonel who reprimanded him and sent him to a penal battalion for not having shaven in the past. Admittedly he revengefully murders the sergeant-major, who is directly responsible for his penalty, but just as he revolts against his father to serve a mightier power, Gray blindly follows the supreme authority. After the war, when Great Britain no longer needs him, Gray is forced to live like a tramp in London, selling matches on the street. Still, he takes good care of his mustache and keeps a cane with him like a dignified army officer. Both the cane and the mustache represent the authority and masculinity of the army, on which Gray totally depends for his existence. The ritual of shaving may have become his obsession due to the traumatic experience of his shameful penalty. The reader, however, is appalled with the pathetic contrast between the symbolic power of the cane and the pettiness of matches at the end of the story.
     The solemn language of the "Father" deteriorates in parallel with the decline of patriarchal authority. In "Crevasse," a party of soldiers loses almost half of its members in a sudden fall into a crevasse. When the rest of them manage to escape out of it, they listen to the Bible read by one of the party, but the reading is disturbed by the cry of a wounded and half-demented soldier. The authorial words run in vain, or they are interpreted at the reader's convenience, as Alec Gray used the Bible to justify his killing.
     In "All the Dead Pilots," the narrator with his artificial leg serves as an inspector of soldiers' letters. Wounded in the leg, which is often recognized as a phallic symbol, he witnesses the manipulation of language by authorities. In "Ad Astra," the pilots get drunk in a French bar at the night of the Armistice. They are confused to find themselves lost at the end of the incessant air battles. The only meaningful conversation in the bar is held between an Indian subadar and a Prussian aviator captured in the fight. The subadar with a white turban is discriminated against by an MP, though he was an aristocrat at home. The Prussian officer with a bandaged head also comes from the aristocracy, although he has repudiated his heritage. The white turban and bandage on the head respectively suggest a symbolical damage to their masculinity and marks them as outsiders. These men, however, deliberately refused to inherit their patriarchy at home, and can quietly accept the Armistice and talk about the present situation.
     The rest of the pilots, however, are dismayed and become abruptly conscious of where they come from. Bayard Sartoris and Bland come from the American South, Monaghan is an Irish American, and Comyn comes from Ireland: namely, they are not in the main stream in their own countries. Now that they have lost the aura of aviators constantly facing death, they have also lost the privilege of Royal Air Force members. In the tense situation of life or death, they did not have to bother about who they were. The dangerous life fascinated them, and Great Britain also seduced them into enjoying the privileged class of aviators in the emergency of war, which temporarily suspends the traditional British class system. Monaghan takes the Prussian aviator with him as if the German is his private prisoner of war. The extraordinary act of befriending an enemy naturally offends the French in the restaurant, but presumably the French citizens suspect a deeper motive than just a whim in Monaghan's behavior. Monaghan deliberately goes against the code of common civilian society and shows that the aviators, German or not, are united as outsiders belonging nowhere, transcending the boundary of a nation.
     Many individuals in Part I of These 13 follow the pattern of either being allured to the power of patriarchal authority and working for it, or resisting the tyrannical patriarchy only to find themselves repeating it. This pattern continues in "Red Leaves" and "A Rose for Emily" in Part II. The Chickasaw Indians apparently have kept their autonomy against French imperialists, but starting with Doom, the chief of the tribe continuously corrupts his people with the desire for authority and western civilization. And Emily, who once tried to break out of her father's restraint on her freedom, turns his oppression on herself, and further on her lover.
     Of course, there is also strong protest and an indictment against patriarchy. Nancy in "That Evening Sun" demands publicly that Mr. Stovall, a white deacon in the Baptist church, pay money for having had sex with her, even though it cost her some teeth. Sam Fathers, an ex-slave, tells Quentin about his Chickasaw father and his African American slave mother. But the response of a white intellectual youth to such accusations of Southern society is ambiguous and noncommittal. Quentin, who recalls Nancy's episode as an adult, is a narrator in "That Evening Sun." But he refrains from making any comment on his father's reaction to Nancy's distress at the time: neither does he tell what eventually happened to her. The reader never knows if Mr. Compson is justified in judging Nancy's fear as baseless and unreasonable. Quentin again does not comment on Sam Fathers' story in "A Justice." He may not fully understand Sam's story of having two fathers, when he listens to it at the age of twelve; and yet he seems to sense something cruel and inhuman, which is somehow related to Southern society. Quentin, nevertheless, goes quickly to his grandfather when summoned. When asked about what they were talking about, Quentin says "'Nothing,'"(360) repressing any anxiety he may have felt. Though sensitive enough to detect some fundamental wrong in the basic system of his society, Quentin cannot articulate his suspicion, and quietly obeys his patriarch's call, still tarrying in "the suspension of twilight"(360).
     And Hawkshaw, a conscientious barber in "Dry September," cannot but jump out of the car which takes Will Mayes to the ultimate destination of lynching. Hawkshaw, or Henry Stribling, is presented as an honest, faithful man in "Hair," and he repays all the debts of his deceased sweetheart's family as he has promised. He is also kind to Susan, and marries her in spite of her bad reputation. Hawkshaw's decision is quite extraordinary in the Southern patriarchal society and he certainly defies the male principle. But does his marriage really save Susan? The girl has already defied society with her pregnancy outside of marriage, and she is desperately in need of love. Hawkshaw's love is constant and generous, but he has his own code to observe in his love. He punctually records the money he repays in the family Bible of his dead fiancee. He has been working at many different barber shops until he finds little Susan, who has the same kind of hair as his dead fiancee. He sees in Susan a part of what he has lost. Hawkshaw's faithfulness and belief in his love might drive the girl more desperate than save her.
     In "Dry September," McLendon is described in contrast with Hawkshaw as the masculine leader of lynching, and a World War I veteran with a medal for valor. He acknowledges himself as the guardian of the Southern patriarchal society, and controls the men in his homosocial group of lynching. He calls Hawkshaw a "'niggerloving --- [man]'" (172), combining his homophobia and racial discrimination effectively into one word. But the fact that he hits his wife when he goes back home and finds her still awake indicates his distrust and hidden fear of women. He is infuriated with her trifle disobedience. The neat small house is about all he is the master of, and he pants and sweats in the heat, helpless. Hawkshaw of "Hair" is more confident of himself and the male-dominated social system, though he serves for nothing to keep his promise to his dead fiancee. In spite of his high handedness and violence, McLendon at the end of the story senses the futility and emptiness crouching close to the patriarchal authority. The combination of patriarchy and racial discrimination represented in McLendon will be developed fully in Light in August and further in Absalom, Absalom!.
     Part III of These 13 deals with sexuality in a grotesque way in "Mistral" and more comically in "Divorce in Napes." "Mistral" takes up the traditional theme of love and death, complicated by a priest, the girl's adopted father. A murder is suspected, but we do not know if the girl or the father is responsible for the death of her fiance. The only thing certain is that the father with all his religious authority lost his battle against the girl's sexuality. The narrator and his friend are quite disturbed to witness the priest's secret mortification. In "Hair," Hawkshaw does not exercise such patriarchal power due to his natural gentleness, but if Hawkshaw were an adopted father rather than a future husband to Susan, this might have been the case with him, too. In "Divorce in Naples," on the other hand, homosexuality between two shipmates is comically and noncommittally narrated. The story seems to accept homosexuality so far as the pair is under control within the ship, which sails from port to port. The taboo of patriarchal society is not so strictly observed among the ship mates who themselves are sort of outsiders in the first place.
     These 13 ends with a poetic prose of "Carcassonne." Far from the moderate tolerance and sympathy for queer outcasts suggested in the "Divorce in Naples," this impressive sketch reemphasizes the heroic masculinity on one hand, and asserts the solitude and glory of an outsider on the other. Faulkner combines the traditional hero of crusaders with a hobo poet and indicates his desire for a glorious, solitary male artist figure fighting in commercial society. The artist image is tragically associated with the white skeleton in a sea grotto. Though barely related with the "Divorce in Naples" with the sea image, "Carcassonne" distinguishes itself from the resigned aloofness of the minorities in the previous story. The diversity, however, between the artist and the dying bum harassed by rats in the attic, somehow allows room for the comic, or at least the realistic element. The poet flying into the sky on a slain but immortal horse faces the "dark and tragic figure of the Earth, his mother" (900) in the end. Both Noel Polk and Michael Millgate see the artistic spirit of These 13 as tragic, but it is worthwhile to realize the limitation of patriarchal authority and to recognize maternity, even in the form of death.
     The patriarchy, which controls family, community, or the nation state, has its limit and is on the decline. The male artist cannot command all his writing under his control, either. Faulkner, who has experienced so much negotiation with commercial magazines in selling his short stories, is aware of this. As early as Mosquitoes, his second novel, Faulkner is critical of Gordon the sculptor, who wants to keep his ideal work of art to himself. The author feels sympathy towards Gordon to some extent, but Faulkner, unlike Gordon, realizes that even a work of art must enter the marketplace to get into contact with people. A work of art would be reduced to null if it never has a chance to be appreciated by anyone. Admittedly, a writer might well be reluctant to change her/his writing at the request of the editor for commercial reasons. But Faulkner discovered that by means of a collection of short stories he can revisit the short stories which he committed to the commercial circuit, restore or improve the original texts, ascertain or reemphasize what he has sought for, and return them back to the marketplace. This method may have suggested to Faulkner the possibility of the short story sequence as a new novel form. It opens up a way to a flexible interactive relationship between the author and the reader. When readers for instance read a short story in the Post, which will later become a part of The Unvanquished, they might enjoy the story as a variation of Southern Romance, one of the entertainment pieces the Post advertises to its subscribers. The reader can ignore or pretend to ignore any element unfamiliar to the reading. These readers may expect the same type of work when they encounter The Unvanquished, the novel which adopts the same title that was used for a short story in the magazine. Faulkner, however, circumvents such an expectation in the novel by adding the final story "An Odor of Verbena." The hero makes a decision which introduces a new perspective and demands the revisional reading of the previous stories as well. A short story, once published, is not irrecoverable. Faulkner can revitalize his stories published in commercial magazines, discovers new possibilities, and construct a collection of short stories with an emphasis on new meanings.
     The short stories which reached the readers come back to the author and may be sent again in a new form of collected short stories or a short story sequence. This concept allows Faulkner to imagine that the works of art are alive and enables the constant dialogue between the author and the reader. Neither does the power of representation belong only to the artist, nor does the book market control the artists; the publication starts communication between the author and the reader. Had Faulkner not thought this way, he would not have written the "Appendix" of the Compsons for the Portable Faulkner. Some critics interpret Faulkner's "Appendix" as Faulkner's negative response to Cowley's neat compilation, but presumably Faulkner must have accepted it as one of good interpretations of his works by a superb reader. The readers have their own right to interpret a writer's works, and Faulkner on his side presents in 1950 the Collected Stories of William Faulkner, which cover most of his published short stories but are arranged differently from the previous collections, because Faulkner starts a dialogue with his readers anew: he asserts his new authorship and presents the collection for the reader's judgment. These 13 is the first of his collections that proved the flexibility and possibility of the author's relationship with the reader.


1 Walter Wenska, "'There's a Man with a Gun over There': Faulkner's Hijackings of Masculine Popular Culture," The Faulkner Journal 15: i-ii (1999-2000), 35-60.
2 Andrew Levy discusses short stories in the United States as the product of negotiations between art and commercialism. See Levy, The Culture and Commerce of the American Short Story.
3 3See Donaldson, "Contending Narratives: and the Short Story Cycle," 128-148.


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