LETTERS: Faulkner's wings of fantasy

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The Independent Online
JOHN Carlin's piece on Oxford Mississippi reminds me of one of my recurring pleasures in "The Bookshop on the Square" ("Why Mississippi is no longer burning", 15 October).

William Faulkner served 179 days as a trainee on course 42 at No 4 school of Military Aeronautics at Toronto University. He never, in that time, left terra firma. Nevertheless, back in Oxford, he affected the stigmata of distinguished combat in flight. His commission was bogus but his RFC officer's uniform expensively cut in Memphis, his limp bogus but his stick finest hickory, his metal plate in the head was bogus, the loss of memory induced by the bottle. For the rest of his life his imagined exploits grew - from celebrating armistice "by taking up a rotary-powered Spad with a crock of bourbon in the cockpit", to "crashing in France, falling uninjured through a thatched roof into the soup tureen of a peasant's dinner".

"Square Books" keeps his bogus RFC wings. There are other RFC wings in Oxford claiming to be Faulkner's, but they are bogus. I know that in the shifting sands of Faulkner scholarship these, at least, are real.

Roger Betteridge

Shardlow, Derbyshire