What Is the Meaning of William Faulkner's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech?

meaning-william-faulkner-s-nobel-prize-acceptance-speech Credit: Carl Van Vechten / Public domain/Other

William Faulkner says in his famous Nobel Prize banquet speech, "I believe man will not only endure, he will prevail." By this, he meant that humanity could overcome the labors and horrors of war. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1949, less than five years after the end of World War II.

Faulkner's speech was short but eloquent, and became sensationalized in the media. In it, he examines the role of the writer in the context of the post-war society he lived in. He speaks of writing to rekindle emotions dampened by the fears of war and combat and the fatalistic view that it was "the end of man." Faulkner rejects that pessimism; he insists that man's spirit and soul will result in the endurance of humankind, and notes that writers and poets have a role to play in bringing that to pass.