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Requiem for a Nun

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  981 ratings  ·  98 reviews
This sequel to Faulkner's SANCTUARY written 20 years later, takes up the story of Temple Drake eight years after the events related in SANCTUARY. ...more
Paperback, 245 pages
Published May 12th 1975 by Vintage (first published 1950)
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Sim 73, in the Vintage International edition (last digits of ISBN 94680-5).
Richard The lawyer, Gavin Stevens, says this to Temple Drake (Mrs. Gowan Stevens).

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mark monday
William Cuthbert Faulkner was an American writer and Nobel Prize laureate from Oxford, Mississippi. Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, the first of four sons of Murry Cuthbert Falkner and Maud Butler. He had three younger brothers: Murry Charles "Jack" Falkner, author John Faulkner, and Dean Swift Faulkner. Soon after his first birthday, his family moved to Ripley, Mississippi. On September 21, 1902, the Falkner family settled in Oxford, where he lived on and off for the rest of his l ...more
Diane Barnes
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This sequel to "Sanctuary" is so much better than that one, it almost makes up for having to wade through that one just to read this one. It tells us what really happened to Temple Drake, and is set 8 years after her abduction. The style is very different, written in a combination of prose and play dialogue. I wasn't sure I would be happy with that before beginning, but by the end thought it was just more example of Faulkner's willingness to take chances in his literature. If you read "Sanctuary ...more
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Faulkner's sequel to Sanctuary, set eight years later with Temple Drake married to Gowan Stevens, gives a more complete picture of the inner workings of this woman's mind and soul, though it remains far from clear in true Faulkner style. Temple seems a very damaged woman, but when that damage began and who inflicted it cannot be answered. Was it when Gowan crashed his car? Or perhaps her decision to meet him for that game? Or later with Popeye? Or earlier, as an overly cherished and protected da ...more
Dec 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: challenge

3.5 stars

This is the 6th book I have read by William Faulkner this year, and it is my least favourite.

It has a strange structure. It's written in 3 Acts. Each 'Act' is in two sections; the first is a narrative, linked to the history of the jail and courthouse in Jefferson (the fictionalised town where Faulkner set so many of his novels); the second part is written as a play script taking up the story of Temple Drake, 8 years after the events in Sanctuary.

I felt the play script sections were wri
Faulkner experiments with a very different plot device and structure in "Requiem For a Nun." Faulkner surrounds and connects the acts of a play with three prose pieces addressing the early history of Mississippi through the construction of the county's courthouse and jail. In his prose, Faulkner traces the development of society's need for law. In his drama, he illustrates that the enforcement of law does not necessarily render justice.

"Requiem For a Nun" takes up eight years after the story of
Kirk Smith
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you have read Sanctuary you MUST continue with this sequel. It is SO much better. Reading Sanctuary was like paying dues, this is the treat. Twenty years after Sanctuary this is Faulkner's fifteenth novel and his work is so much better. He uses a few of the same characters, the connection is not that important. I did thoroughly enjoy this one, dialogue is in the form of a play, with a few visual prompts for scene and setting. Clever and easy to visualize as black and white cinema. Lawyer Gavi ...more
Joey Anderson
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To begin with, Requiem for a Nun is a great novel, but be careful in comparing it to Faulkner’s other works. It is just as good, but it is different.

In the follow-up novel, Faulkner combines a mixture of novelistic forms—about the founding of Jefferson, the Golden Dome as the state capitol building in Jackson, and the longevity of the jail—and the dramatic form of the play for the present story about Temple Drake eight years later after the events of Sanctuary.

The novel is quite well done, but
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Old Bill is a genius, not just tedious, and his jewels bubble up on top of his strange rabble. His liberties with made up language and punctuation annoyed me, as his penchant for repetition. But the themes are dark and deep, and touch on the eternal. Damnation, sin and human will vs that of the almighty are neatly detailed in this play within a history lesson. The history was interesting and educational but his writing gets in the way. The play was superb and I learned where a favorite quote com ...more
Jan 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
Critic Kenneth Tynan has the first - and last - word on this undramatized bosherie. Faulkner wrote the pulp "Sanctuary" for $$ (which he admits) and years later this igloo-quel on the human condition (god help us) out of guilt, maybe ?

Tynan finds it a bollocks of "turgid statements" w "stammering paradoxes." The infanticide therein is "profoundly unreal, if not inhuman," he adds. Trivia: Insiders giggle that Faulkner gave the play 'rights' to onetime sweetpoo and terrible actress Ruth Ford. Whic
Brian Willis
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Interspersing typically Faulknerian stretches of prose (told in three Acts, the prose sections are all one sentence lasting anywhere from 10-50 pages - yes, one sentence) with dramatic sections written for the stage, this sequel to Sanctuary focuses on the consequences of Temple Drake's actions. She in fact enjoys what she did in the previous book and in one of the few passages in all of Faulkner's work to directly reference religion, both Nancy the accused murderess and Temple muse on why God a ...more
J.M. Hushour
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In many ways, this could be thought of as Faulkner's streamlined, stripped-down final expression of everything he'd written up until this point.
Divided into two languages, this sequel to the phenomenal "Sanctuary" is novel/play and the distinction is important. The culmination of Faulkner's fiction-as-mirror-to-America can be found in the novelistic bits: the raw lineage of rapacity that ends with "Requiem" itself. And the requiem is embodied the play bits, falsely staged, Temple Drake's baby ha
Jun 12, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As Faulkner turns from comic/grotesque to religion/ethics, so he fully exhibits the implausible/mannered nature of his characters, dialogue, prose.
Sarah Goodman
Jun 07, 2020 rated it liked it
I had..a hard time with this book. Being completely honest, I skipped 30 pages that I couldn’t bring myself to read. It was powerful, but I’m not sure that I fully understood it. In some ways it was easier than Faulkner’s other books, and in other ways much harder. Deliberately writing my review on this before reading anyone else’s analysis, so that I won’t be swayed by other opinions!!

Despite the fact that the narrative intro to each act was really hard for me, I think the play itself is a very
May 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Stevens living-room, 6:00 P.M.

A center table with a lamp, chairs, sofa left rear, floor-lamp, wall-bracket lamps. The atmosphere of the room is up-to-date but has the air of another time – the high ceiling and cornices indicate an ante-bellum house, perhaps inherited from a spinster aunt.

Sound of feet, then the door L opens and Temple enters. Her air is brittle and tense. She reaches for a cigarette on a side table and nervously lights it.

The best thing I can say is that it was over
Dave Russell
Oct 18, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
There are no nuns in this book.
Behnam Riahi
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The following review has been copied from

Requiem for a Nun, written by William Faulkner and published by Vintage Books, is a three-act play following the life of Temple Stevens (formally Temple Drake in Sanctuary) in her recovery following the murder of her second child. Eight years after her kidnapping, Temple has become a mother and a wife, more articulate now than before and willing to face conflict head on to end her perpetual suffering. When her maid, Nancy, pu
Asha Kodah
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars for the three prose pieces alone, with the first being the best of the bunch. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy reading the dialogue sections, it’s more just that they were mediocre at best, and felt stunted, but hats off to the attempt. Faulkner is one brilliant brilliant writer, but for me, he really ought to stick to the dizzying and the dense.
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A thousand tiny threads coming together to form what? A country? A soul?
Terry Cornell
May 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: drama
One of the strangest books as to organization that I've ever read. The sequel to 'Sanctuary', this book came out twenty years after 'Sanctuary' was published. The book intersperses a long rambling history of the imaginary county in Mississippi that is the setting for many of Faulkner's novels, with a play regarding the exploits of the protagonist from 'Sanctuary' eight years later. Either on their own would have been somewhat entertaining, but not long enough for a book. The history segment I fo ...more
Matthew Wilson
Jul 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
Summer's the time for associative reading, so in my post about the Balzac novel, The Wrong Side of Paris, I quoted Faulkner on the past not even being past which is a quote from Requiem for a Nun, and I decided to re-read it (I read it maybe 40 years ago). It's a strange text -- part description of place, part drama -- and the description of place is very much in Faulkner's high modernist mode, but with this book (published in 1950) the style feels very much like a tepid holdover, and there's no ...more
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel-us
This is lesser Faulkner, but still the best work I've read in the last few months. A sequel of sorts to Sanctuary, Faulkner has written a play in which is sandwiched three longish chapters of the history of the town of Jefferson and the State. The chapters at time degenerate into near-Faulkner parody (long sentences, words not in Kindle dictionary), but still gripping reading to me, and preferable, in my opinion, to the play.

PS - This work has the famous quote: "The past is never dead. It’s not
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Remarkable to read this now ... story of Temple Drake's self-loathing confession, victimized black nanny ... apparently Faulkner's revulsion/compulsion to express Southern Gothic. Yet strangely unself-aware that his focus on the white deb's infamy skews away from the actual victim who is routinely dismissed as Not the Point, already Lost. Surprised this hasn't been recently resurrected in the media. ...more
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The opening piece, about the founding of the jail, is first-rate Faulkner, the rest Faulkner trying to be Sophocles and not succeeding. It's worth reading to see, side by side, how easily mediocre writing dates itself, whereas the great writing is timeless. (The opening piece was reprinted as a short story in The Faulkner Reader, so you can find it there.)

K.M. Weiland
Oct 05, 2011 rated it liked it
The two halves of the book (the narrative history of Yoknapatawpha County and the play script of a murder trial) both offer worthwhile reading experiences, although due to their curious combination into one work, both end up being shortchanged.
Matthew Pike
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
William Faulkner was a genius. There is no other way to say it. He is one of the greatest authors of all time and certainly my favorite. In Requiem for a Nun, Faulkner once again displays why he has been lauded for so long with accolades and praise. The book is loaded with masterful prose and deep thematic elements. While the subject matter is dark, as Faulkner almost always is prone to writing about, there’s a tinge of hopefulness that only stark reality can provide. Faulkner’s works are consis ...more
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Faulkner obviously could not leave Temple Drake as we last saw her in Sanctuary. There was more to her story and it must have haunted him, as it haunted me, for he returned to her twenty years later to put her soul under a microscope.

I, unlike so many, do not view Temple as an evil person. I view her as a damaged soul, someone who has been so marred by life that she can no longer function. She fails to understand, even herself, what makes her unable to feel emotion as others do, and she carries
Kent Nelson
Oct 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Part of me doesn't know what to think about what is basically two books here. There's a play and there is a narrative history of the county (the town and the state) and maybe I need some help here (haven't read any commentary) to explain to me where the twain shall meet.

Still, I liked it, couldn't stop reading either, absorbed by both. The narrative filling in a lot of the gaps of the history of the county left out or merely alluded to in other works; the prose dense and often just too much but
Jane Elzey
Feb 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone looking a cultural history
Recommended to Jane by: Deborah Wilson
Some might think Faulkner is outdated outside of a Lit class required reading, but his southern point of view is still relevant almost a hundred years later. Reading southern literature like Faulkner helps us to understand the mindset of the cultures that make racism, sexism, and homophobia still rampant in our country. It's not limited to the south, either. In this book we see the prejudices between law and order, white and black, women and men, and the justice that is denied in all of these re ...more
Persephone Abbott
The story that I was really more interested in was the idea of the "tamed Parisian" architect tethered to a slave and keep in captivity to organize the Mississippi's wilderness. I was not interested in Temple, at first at least, although I became slightly interested in her story with Nancy near the end. The reiteration of information in the play sections was galling. I understand the title and the challenge to the moral norm, however, I feel the modus of the message was not particularly the most ...more
Don Heiman
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
“Requiem for a Nun” was published in 1951. It is the sequel to his 1931 novel “Sanctuary.” The “Requiem for a Nun” theme reflects Faulkner’s often quoted notion that “the past is never dead. It's not even past.” The novel chronicles an 8 year chain of events that causes the murder of a six month old baby girl. These events in a direct way reflect the guilt of the child’s mother who was executing plans to abandon the baby; and the guilt of the baby’s nanny who suffocated the infant to abort the m ...more
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William Cuthbert Faulkner was a Nobel Prize-winning American novelist and short story writer. One of the most influential writers of the twentieth century, his reputation is based mostly on his novels, novellas, and short stories. He was also a published poet and an occasional screenwriter.

The majority of his works are set in his native state of Mississippi. Though his work was published as early

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