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As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text Paperback – January 30, 1991
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“He is the greatest artist the South has produced. . . . Indeed, through his many novels and short stories, Faulkner fights out the moral problem which was repressed after the nineteenth century [yet] for all his concern with the South, Faulkner was actually seeking out the nature of man. Thus we must turn to him for that continuity of moral purpose which made for greatness of our classics.” —Ralph Ellison
“No man ever put more of his heart and soul into the written word than did William Faulkner. If you want to know all you can about that heart and soul, the fiction where he put it is still right there.” —Eudora Welty
More About the Author
Rejected by the US military in 1915, he joined the Canadian flyers with the RAF, but was still in training when the war ended. Returning home, he studied at the University of Mississippi and visited Europe briefly in 1925.
His first poem was published in The New Republic in 1919. His first book of verse and early novels followed, but his major work began with the publication of The Sound and the Fury in 1929. As I Lay Dying (1930), Sanctuary (1931), Light in August (1932), Absalom, Absalom! (1936) and The Wild Palms (1939) are the key works of his great creative period leading up to Intruder in the Dust (1948). During the 1930s, he worked in Hollywood on film scripts, notably The Blue Lamp, co-written with Raymond Chandler.
William Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 and the Pulitzer Prize for The Reivers just before his death in July 1962.
Top Customer Reviews
As with his stunning _The_Sound_and_the_Fury_ and _Absalom_Absalom_, this book makes use of the author's masterful use of stream-of-conscious writing to render an entire reality with internal monologues. The story unfolds as you construct it from the observations and responses of the characters. Though briefer and less challenging than these other two books, it's as absorbing a read as they have been for decades. When you reach the end, you can imagine that you'll pick up the book again someday, sure there's more to explore.
The structure is simple once you get the hang of it. Each chapter is the name of a particular character in the story of the family of Addie Bundren, dead in the first few pages, and being transported by her clan to the land of her birth for burial-by wagon, in the heat and dust, over rivers, for weeks, before the vacuum seal... There is no "Once upon a time." Instead, whatever that character is thinking at the instant the chapter begins is what you're reading. Soon, you know who everyone is and what she thinks of everyone else. The effect of this structure is that you can inhabit the narrative as each of the players, can see how events are interpreted differently. It's also like a mystery-someone will have troubled thoughts about something you can't quite distinguish; then, twenty pages later, you figure out what they've been talking about and you flip backward in a frenzy to see how the early references to the issue flesh out the story. This is a terribly rewarding way of reading.
This is a great first Faulkner for everyone.Read more ›
The story begins as Addie Bundren lays dying, fanned by her daughter, while her son makes her coffin. With her husband and five children, we make her acquaintance by learning about their actions and characters. Only once does she have a role as a narrator, and then, quite late in the story.
Her husband, Anse, has promised her that he will bury her with her family. Because of tremendous rains, the river has risen, knocking out bridges and making passage difficult. Despite this, the family perserveres in taking her unembalmed body to the intended burial site. Along the way, there are many mishaps and the family is burdened in many ways by keeping this promise. As the burial comes closer, new elements of the story are exposed and develop that totally recast what you have thought was going on. On the very last page (don't read it first!) is such a plot reversal as only a short story writer would normally have dared.
The story is a difficult one to read. So read this book when you have time to pay close attention and study the text word by word. Let me explain the difficulties you will encounter. First, the voices in the book use a Southern patois that will be unfamiliar to most. This is the language of the rural poor in the 1930s, which few have heard.Read more ›
And so it is with most of Faulkner's work. As a reader, you should not go into his work expecting anything "good." You won't find an easy or clear plotline, clear language, or (and this is USUALLY a major gripe of mine) likeable characters. But even though you don't really like what you are reading, you just have to know how it ends. You have to know what makes these reprehensible people tick. And, surprisingly enough, you are usually unsatisfied in the end, but not so much that you don't want to double back and have one more look at the car-wreck that is the work of Faulkner.
And so it is with *As I Lay Dying*. It's a fascinating piece of work, masterfully crafted, ultimately depressing, and darkly funny all at once. Having been to Rowan Oak a few times, I can see Faulkner sitting in his front garden chuckling over the idea of Vardaman's infamous "My Mother is a fish," chapter and how it captivated the world with it's "brilliance."
I also have no doubt, having grown up in Mississippi, that he was writing about real people, warts and all. I'm probably related to some of them. Maybe for that reason, Faulkner reads a little differently to locals. While I certainly appreciate his literary genius, the truth and realism of what he wrote also shines through.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you read only one Faulkner novel, make it this one. I'll go all in. If you read only one novel from the twentieth century, make it this. It's crazy funny in places. Read morePublished 21 hours ago by Thora
Insane book. Had me on the edge of my seat with my jaw on the floor the entire time. One of the best books period.Published 19 days ago by Alex TB
Well, I'm about 80 pages in and I'm calling it quits. There are already about 15 different narrators and much of the book is told in this weird stream-of-consciousness style. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Alex Tate
Classic but dark. First read when I was a teenager, much better appreciated at age 77.Published 2 months ago by John B. Anders, Jr.
Faulkner tells the Bundren pilgrimage as they carry their mother Addie to be buried. He uses the page well with many specific formatting requests. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Susanne Keller