Thomas Mann: William Faulkner’s love for man, protest against militarism and war
From letter to Agnes E. Meyer
August 22, 1954
Translated by Richard and Clara Winston
I want to write you about Faulkner’s latest novel, that curious book you sent me because you wanted to hear my opinion…The book is entitled A Fable. It really ought to be called A Parable.
The author’s knowledge of military matters is impressive, and the fantasy with which he deploys that knowledge is poetic. The way the opposing generals confer on the restoration of discipline so that the war can be continued may well be described as satire in the grand manner, and there is grandeur in the dramatic dialogue between the sergeant who wants to die for the redemption of humanity and the commander with his tempter’s offers. The finest thing in the book is the writer’s love for man, his protest against militarism and war, his belief in the ultimate triumph of goodness. You were moved by that, I imagine. I was also, and if, as may be assumed, the book proves a tremendous success, I shall be very, very glad.