In April of 1962, nearly 49 years ago this day, author William Faulkner visited the United States Military Academy at West Point at the invitation of Major General W.C. Westmoreland. On the night of April 19 he read excerpts from his forthcoming novel The Reivers before a rapt audience of cadets, faculty, and staff. The following day, clad in a Donegal tweed suit and repp tie, he lunched with the brass and met with cadets in two advanced literature courses and discussed a wide range of subjects including his work, philosophy of life and views on America.
Faulkner was not himself much of a military man, though critics have noted his “lifelong romance” with the military experience beginning with his first novel Soldier’s Pay in 1926; unable to join the U.S. Army due to his short stature, he had enlisted in the British Royal Flying Corps during World War I but never saw action. Nonetheless he exuded something of a military bearing on the stage at West Point with his pipe and British officer’s mustache.