Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mind Your Manners... Faulkner style

Dining room at William Faulkner's home Rowan Oak
Oxford, Mississippi
(Photo from the Historic American Buildings Survey
Library of Congress)
[William Faulkner] was a stickler for good manners and taught my cousins Jill and Vicki and me how to behave at table: We were not to sit down until Aunt Estelle was seated. The grownups were given a choice before the first course was served: to smoke at table or drink wine with the meal. He would not allow anyone to do both. Smoking dulled the palate. The wine could not be appreciated. He would circle the table, wine bottle in hand, and each adult had to make a choice. He designated smokers by turning their empty wine glasses upside down so there could be no recanting the decision. We were to serve ourselves from dishes presented by the houseboy left to right. We were not to begin to eat until Aunt Estelle took the first bite (just in case the food was poisoned, he said). We were not allowed to leave the table until permission to be excused had been asked of, and granted by, our host.

From Every Day by the Sun: A Memoir of the Faulkners of Mississippi by Dean Faulkner Wells, niece of author William Faulkner

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