Normally, attorneys ask judges to instruct a jury to pay no attention to testimony regarded as “hearsay” and “speculation,” but Oxford attorney Hal Freeland wants the public to listen to his recollections of conversations with Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Faulkner.
Freeland, who was a legal partner with Faulkner’s friend Phil Stone – who was a model for a Faulkner character – plans to relate discussions between the two men at 8 p.m. Tuesday (July 21) in Nutt Auditorium at the University of Mississippi.
Freeland’s son, attorney Tommy Freeland, will serve as moderator for the session. The free, public event is part of UM’s 36th annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference, which convenes July 19-23.
“I always enjoyed the conversations I had with Bill Faulkner,” Hal Freeland said. “He was a fantastic storyteller and one of the few true geniuses I’ve ever had the privilege to know.”
The attorney said he plans to share knowledge about both Faulkner and Stone never seen in print.
“Bill and Phil were friends from the time Faulkner was age 16. Unknown to many, Phil Stone was Bill Faulkner’s literary mentor,” Hal Freeland said. “During the first decade of Faulkner’s career he would frequently seek out Stone’s critique of what he was writing before it was published.”
Tommy Freeland, who has written an article about Stone, said Faulkner also had a great interest in the law and crime, and relied upon Stone’s and his father’s legal expertise for accuracy whenever he had questions.
“I hope that people who come to this discussion will leave with a fuller sense of who Faulkner was as a person,” said the younger Freeland.
Donald Kartiganer, UM’s Howry Chair of Faulkner Studies and professor of English, said Freeland’s presentation is a “not-to-be-missed” program.
“With Phil Stone gone, Hal Freeland remains our only living source to certain kinds of information about Faulkner,” Kartiganer said. “He is an excellent storyteller who can provide unique insights into Faulkner and his relationship with Stone, who was a model for the character ‘Gavin Stevens’ which appears in such Faulkner novels as ‘Light in August’ and the Snopes’ Trilogy.”