William Faulkner: Major Novels: Sanctuary


Major Novels || Introduction || Family and Early Life || Southern Roots || Apprentice Years || Adaptations and Hollywood Films || Translations || Faulkner Studies and Miscellany

William Faulkner. Sanctuary: the Original Text. Edited by Noel Polk. New York: Random House, 1981.

This publication of Faulkner's original 1929 manuscript provides an interesting contrast between his first version and the one published in 1931. When the published version appeared, the response was either one of horror at a book that would actually describe such deviant behavior as that of Popeye, Temple Drake, and Horace Benbow, or one of admiration of the book's power. Sanctuary was called a horrible book not fit for nice people to read. But it was also described as "most terrifying," "most extraordinary," a great novel written by an author of "prodigious genius."

The opening section is a good example of the change between the two versions. The original story begins with Horace Benbow's observation of a black man in jail awaiting execution for the murder of his wife. The second version places Popeye as a character central with Horace. It is their relationship that becomes most important in the novel. The revised story is less filtered through Horace's mind; it is a more straightforward narrative, moving in a direct timeline as the events unfold. This makes for a smoother, faster-paced, and more dramatic novel, and may account for its "popularity." It did sell the 10,000 copies Faulkner hoped for. In fact, by the time of his death in 1962, there were four American editions, three British editions, numerous reprints, and translations into French, German, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Japanese, and several other languages. There also were two motion picture versions.

William Faulkner. Sanctuary. New York: The Modern Library. 1932.

William Faulkner. Sanctuary. New York: Vintage Books. 1940.

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Last Modified: August 1998