Faulkner link could save building

By The Associated Press

OXFORD – The University of Mississippi says it will work with its staff and William Faulkner scholars to evaluate the historical significance of an old power plant where the famed writer once worked.

The Oxford Eagle reports that Faulkner historians and students rallied support on Facebook and on a petition to oppose the university’s announcement it would demolish an old power plant.

The concern was the power plant was the one where Faulkner worked in the 1920s and where he wrote one of his most acclaimed novels, “As I Lay Dying.” The Nobel Prize winning writer died on July 6, 1962.

Vice Chancellor Larry Sparks said this week it was not the same power plant.

“Two very old power plants are situated side by side on the University of Mississippi campus, and confusion often occurs about the structures because both have, at different times, been called the ‘old power plant,’” Sparks said in a statement.

“One of those buildings is scheduled to come down within the next 18 to 24 months, after completion of a new central mechanical plant with expanded capacity and greater efficiency. The other ‘old power plant,’ which is providing temporary storage capacity and serves as a dispatch office, is the structure where William Faulkner once worked,” he said.

Sparks said no decision has been made on what to do with the second building.

It was the fall of 1929 when Faulkner was waiting for “The Sound and the Fury” to be published that he took a night job at the plant to haul coal to feed the boiler.

During his work hours he scribbled away at what would become the classic, “As I Lay Dying.”

Jay Watson, Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies and director of the Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference, has suggested the former plant became a historical site.

“This seemingly nondescript little building actually played a vital role in the genesis of one of the greatest literary achievements of the 20th century. We need to think twice before simply sweeping it off the map,” Watson said.

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Information from: Oxford Eagle, http://www.oxfordeagle.com