The Jim Hinkle Memorial Prize will be awarded every five years by The Faulkner Journal for an essay that makes a unique and lasting contribution to Faulkner scholarship. The prize carries with it a $1,000 award. The first award (catching up, alas) covered the period from 1989 ("Faulkner and Feminism," Vol. 4) through 1999 (Vol. 14.2) and was announced in conjunction with the Fall 2002/Spring 2003 volume, Faulkner's Indians. From then on, we've been remembering Jim and honoring a Faulkner scholar in five-year intervals. The second award covers the period 2000 through 2005 and was announced in the Fall 2005/Spring 2006 volume, Faulkner and Ideology. The third award covers the period 2006 through 2011 and was announced in the Fall 2012 issue.
There are ways in which Jim Hinkle knew more about the works of William Faulkner than anybody else, ways in which he knew much less, and in his ten short years as a professional, publishing Faulknerian, he taught us all a lot about the way Faulkner wrote, the milieu in which he lived. Most of all, he cared about WHAT Faulkner wrote, and insisted that the essential task, the first job, of the literary critic, is to look at the words the author actually wrote.
I know few people who were more completely engaged in their work, nobody who got more pleasure out of his work, or was more proud of the work he had done; yet at the same time I have never known anybody who had less ego involved in the work. He was eager to discover fine differences among types of hame strings, or the location of bridges across the river Seine, just to test whether that kind of knowledge made any difference in the way he read a passage in Faulkner or Hemingway, and he made it his religion constantly to seek out and ingest new facts which might affect his understanding. In reading as in life: he could tell you in all earnestness something he had believed, even held sacred for years, then listen to you tell him he was wrong, listen to your explanation and, if your explanation made sense, he would simply, remarkably—no, astonishingly—say, "Well, OK. That makes sense," and he’d revise his entire credo on the basis of new information. I know NOBODY less defensive, less jealous of, or threatened by, the intelligence or accomplishments of others, nobody who was more willing to take pleasure in what he could learn from somebody else. It was a remarkable quality, the one I’d most like to emulate, the one I fall farthest from.
The prize was presented to Candace Waid for "Burying the Regional Mother: Faulkner's Road to Race through the Visual Arts," Vol. 23.1 (2007).
Nominations for the next Hinkle Memorial Prize will be selected from essays published from 2012 to 2017. The Faulkner Journal recognizes that Jim likely may have obstreperously disagreed with the winning choices but he would have at least, we think, loved the idea that Faulkner scholarship was being paid for - in dollars if not in mules.