A Fable

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A Fable
First edition cover
Author William Faulkner
Cover artist Riki Levinson[1]
Country United States
Language English
Published 1954 (Random House)
Media type Print (hardcover & paperback)
Preceded by Requiem for a Nun
Followed by The Town

A Fable is a 1954 novel written by the American author William Faulkner. He spent more than a decade and tremendous effort on it, and considered it his masterpiece when it was completed.[citation needed] It won the Pulitzer Prize[2] and the National Book Award,[3] but critical reviews were mixed and it is considered one of Faulkner's lesser works.[4] Historically, it can be seen as a precursor to Joseph Heller's Catch-22.

The book takes place in France during World War I and stretches through the course of one week. Corporal Stephan, who represents Jesus, orders 3,000 troops to disobey orders to attack in the brutally repetitive trench warfare. In return, the Germans do not attack, and the war stops when soldiers realize that it takes two sides to fight a war. The Generalissimo, who represents leaders who use war to gain power, invites his German counterpart to discuss how to restart the war. He then arrests and executes Stephan. Before Stephan's execution, the Generalissimo tries to convince the corporal that war can never be stopped because it is the essence of human nature.



  1. ^ Modern first editions - a set on Flickr
  2. ^ a b "Fiction". Past winners & finalists by category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  3. ^ a b "National Book Awards – 1955". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-31. (With acceptance speech by Faulkner and essays by Neil Baldwin and Harold Augenbraum from the Awards 50- and 60-year anniversary publications.)
  4. ^ "William Faulkner". The Mississippi Writers Page. Department of English. University of Mississippi. Retrieved 2012-03-31.
Preceded by
The Adventures of Augie March
Saul Bellow
National Book Award for Fiction
Succeeded by
Ten North Frederick
John O'Hara