George Dawes Green: Why the Past—and Storytelling—Is Never Dead
William Faulkner once famously wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” I’ve been thinking a lot about that quote, which comes from his 1951 novel Requiem for a Nun, in regards to today’s guest, George Dawes Green.
George is the creator of the massively popular event series, radio show, and podcast The Moth, which has redefined personal storytelling in the digital age. George is also a novelist, and his new book, the best-selling murder mystery The Kingdoms of Savannah, is set in his native Georgia and features a great contemporary update of Faulkner’s themes.
What Faulkner, the great neo-Gothic chronicler of the pre–civil rights movement South, was getting at is the idea that if you don’t deal with history honestly and truthfully, it keeps getting in the way of your present and future, like the ghost of the murdered king in Hamlet. Individuals and societies alike can’t move forward until some form of acknowledgment and justice for past crimes has taken place. That’s at the heart of Gothic literature, which is filled with ruins and ghosts and secrets from the past irrupting into the present. It’s why the characters in Faulkner’s work are literally and figuratively haunted by race relations that they haven’t honestly accounted for. That focus on the unaccounted-for past is the reason that Faulkner, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949, is
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