J.M. Coetzee on Faulkner (via Arts & Letters Daily):
What the rather dreamy Billy Faulkner gave himself in place of schooling was a narrow but intense reading of fin-de-siècle English poetry, notably Swinburne and Housman, and of three novelists who had given birth to fictional worlds lively and coherent enough to supplant the real one: Balzac, Dickens, and Conrad. Add to this a familiarity with the cadences of the Old Testament, Shakespeare, and Moby-Dick, and, a few years later, a quick study of what his older contemporaries T.S. Eliot and James Joyce were up to, and he was ready armed.
And Cervantes, of course!
(More evidence for my undying belief that you are what you read.)