“Good God, I can’t publish this. We’d both be in jail.” So said Faulkner’s publisher prior to the 1931 publication of his sensational novel of rape and murder, focusing on an Ole Miss debutante, and a violent bootlegging criminal named Popeye. The storyline of this novel follows various threads to connect the characters and to explore the culture in rural Mississippi and Tennessee during prohibition.
Sanctuary is by the American author William Faulkner about the rape and abduction of the well-bred Mississippi college girl, Temple Drake, during the Prohibition era. It is considered one of his more controversial works, given its theme of rape. First published in 1931, it was Faulkner’s commercial and critical breakthrough, establishing his literary reputation. It is said Faulkner claimed it was a “potboiler“, written purely for profit, but this has been debated by scholars and Faulkner’s own friends.
It is a powerful tome examining the nature of evil, informed by the works of T. S. Eliot and Freud, mythology, local lore, and hardboiled detective fiction. Sanctuary captures the dark, at times brutal, story of Drake, who introduces her own form of venality into the Memphis underworld where she is being held.
Psychologically astute and wonderfully poetic, it powerfully examines the nature of true evil, through the prisms of mythology, local lore, and hard-boiled detective fiction. Here is a typical passage, as the villain Popeye stands on the gallows, head in a noose, awaiting his fate:
Popeye began to jerk his neck forward in little jerks. “Psssst!” he said, the sound cutting sharp into the drone of the minister’s voice; “pssssst!” The sheriff looked at him; he quit jerking his neck and stood rigid, as though he had an egg balanced on his head. “Fix my hair, Jack,” he said.
“Sure,” the sheriff said. “I’ll fix it for you;” springing the trap.
You can grab a copy of this classic HERE.