As odd as it sounds, the first “grown-up” work I read as a boy was the play The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie. It took me a long time to complete, the ending came from left field, and I was absorbed by how the dialogue carried the action of the play. From then on, I became a fan of reading plays (and of course watching them when I had a chance) whether it was Christie, Molière, or Chekhov.
While looking at some archived papers of William Faulkner, I was surprised to see a play titled ‘Twixt Cup and Lip, which to my knowledge and that of several Faulkner scholars had never before been published or produced. This one-act play was probably written when Faulkner was a student at Ole Miss and demonstrates a comical and light romantic style. Faulkner’s standing as one of America’s greatest authors of the 20th century is assured thanks to stream of conscious works such as As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury, but it was fun to see a lighter side of the author in a play showcasing swift dialogue and comic timing, something that is also seen to full effect in his short story collections—New Orleans Sketches and Knight’s Gambit. These shorter pieces display his vivid and unforgettable characters, talent for crafting biblical parables in contemporary settings, and distinctive ability to create humor in any situation. I’d like to thank Lee Caplin, the executor of the William Faulkner estate, for giving us permission to publish this. Finding lost works by literary legends at times requires lots of red tape, delays and many more odd situations which are frustrating, but working with someone like Lee who was able to push things through in a speedy manner, was always patient with any of my questions, was wonderful and something I won’t forget.
A big thanks as well to the staff at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia for providing me with copies of the play and for all their help and dedication.
I hope publication of this play will inspire some readers to read or reread some of Faulkner’s works. On a recent trip to Chicago, I picked up a copy of Intruder in the Dust and am ordering a few more works by Faulkner. Going through the pages of Intruder in the Dust serves as a reminder as to why Faulkner’s works are timeless classics—his novels and stories have a melodious prose that is seamless, his characters are realistic yet their quirks make them unforgettable, and his multilayered plots have the magic to always keep his readers on their toes.