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The Wall Street Journal on “Faulkner for Sale”

Update: Have made direct links to the story (without a paywall barrier) 

The Friday Wall Street Journal devoted almost two full pages, beginning on the front of the Arena section, to a story headlined “Faulkner for Sale,” about the efforts by Lee Caplin as agent for the estate to market literary rights and capitalize on the estate.  There are four main threads to the story  A description of efforts to produce movies from the work, an account of the lawsuits against Woody Allen and the Washington Post for use of the past-is-not-past quote, the failed attempt to sell the Nobel prize, and reactions to all of the above, some local (from the director of the museums at Ole Miss and from Larry Wells, widower of Faulkner’s niece Dean).

It opens with a nice barbed quote from the Nobel Prize speech as a lede–

At a recent Sotheby’s sale of fine books and manuscripts, an unusual lot came up for auction: William Faulkner’s 1949 Nobel Prize and drafts of his acceptance speech, written on Algonquin Hotel stationery. In the speech, Faulkner said: “I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work…So this award is only mine in trust.”

The piece finishes strongly, too–

But officials at Ole Miss worry what the family may decide to sell next. The university bought Rowan Oak from Jill Faulkner Summers in 1973, but the furniture and personal effects within it belong to the family. “Rowan Oak doesn’t have a future as a public site without the artifacts within,” says the museum’s director, Mr. Saarnio. More than 20,000 visitors a year come through the home.

Since the Nobel medallion was removed from the university library, Ole Miss sent out a call to donors in an effort to raise money to purchase the items within the home, including the typewriter where Faulkner poured his unique vision of the Deep South onto paper.

Mr. Summers, Faulkner’s grandson, promises the contents of the home will never leave Rowan Oak. But Mr. Caplin says it’s unlikely the family is going to give the items to the university. “There will have to be a transaction of some sort,” Mr. Caplin says.

Worth reading it all.

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