. . . [T]wentieth century is over, and when it comes to the matter of designating the most important American novelist of that century, somebody who can truly hold his own in terms of international competition, Faulkner seems to have won the race—and by a couple of gracefully gliding, beautifully hoof-beating furlongs, as far as I’m concerned.
No need to go into extensive details of the dazzlement of the large body of his brave, innovative work and how it changed the look of fiction forever. (After the French started translating him in the 1930s, literature throughout continental Europe was never quite the same, and García Márquez, Vargas Llosa, and who knows how many others in the movement that’s commonly called the Latin American Boom later bowed down nearly in unison, to acknowledge that there might not have been even a faint literary pop from that part of the world, let alone such a resounding boom of an explosion in fiction, if it hadn’t been for Faulkner.) Actually, it’s tough to argue against the fact that Faulkner remains among the handful of most significant novelists in all of our history, probably second only to Melville (and one has to wonder if Melville, for sheer originality and on the strength of the one volume alone about his metaphysical leviathan, is really second to anybody worldwide, including Dickens or Tolstoy or Flaubert, even Joyce, for that matter). OK, I think I’ve established my point, the greatness of Faulkner.