Requiem for a Nun

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Requiem for a Nun
First edition
Author William Faulkner
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Random House
Publication date
Pages 286
Preceded by Intruder in the Dust
Followed by A Fable

Requiem for a Nun is a book written by William Faulkner in 1951.

Form and theme[edit]

Like many of Faulkner's works, Requiem experiments with narrative technique—the book is part novel, part play. The protagonist is Temple Drake, a character introduced as a college student in Sanctuary, one of Faulkner's early novels. In Requiem Temple, now married with a child, must learn to deal with her violent, turbulent past as related in Sanctuary. The main narrative, which is presented in dramatic form, is interspersed with prose sections recounting the history of the fictional Yoknapatawpha County.

'The past'[edit]

Requiem for a Nun is perhaps best known for one of Faulkner's most famous lines, "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

This line is often paraphrased, as it was by then-Senator Barack Obama in his speech "A More Perfect Union".[1][2] In 2012, Faulkner Literary Rights LLC filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Sony Pictures Classics over a scene in the film Midnight in Paris, in which a time-traveling character says, "The past is not dead! Actually, it's not even past. You know who said that? Faulkner. And he was right. And I met him, too. I ran into him at a dinner party."[3] In 2013, the judge dismissed Faulkner Literary Rights LLC's claim, ruling that the use of the quote in the film was de minimis and constituted "fair use".[4]


The novel was dramatized for the theater in 1956 by Albert Camus, entitled Requiem pour une nonne. Camus also wrote the preface to the 1957 French translation of the novel by Maurice Coindreau.

The novel was a co-source for the 1961 film Sanctuary.


  1. ^ Horton, Scott (2008-03-24). "The Past Is Not Past. Or Is It?". No Comment (Harper's Online). Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  2. ^ Obama, Barack (2008-03-18). "A More Perfect Union". Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  3. ^ Block, Alex Ben (2012-10-25). "Sony Sued Over William Faulkner Quote in 'Midnight in Paris'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2012-10-26. 
  4. ^ Gardner, Eriq (2013-07-18). "Sony Pictures Wins 'Midnight in Paris' Lawsuit Over Faulkner Quote". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2014-09-02.