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Intruder in the Dust Paperback – October 29, 1991

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Editorial Reviews


"A work of timeless importance" New York Times "He has written a novel which in form is a thriller - and a very good thriller too - but this without distracting from its profundity" New Statesman "There is an extraordinary vigor and power in his writing, a feverish urge toward description in which words combine in a dense web of meaning" Chicago Tribune "The greatest American writers of the last century were William Faulkner and Saul Bellow" -- Philip Roth "In a single brief decade, Faulkner had produced more lasting works of fiction than many great writers do in a lifetime" Guardian --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Born in 1897 in New Albany, Mississippi, William Faulkner was the son of a family proud of their prominent role in the history of the south. He grew up in Oxford, Mississippi, and left high school at fifteen to work in his grandfather's bank. 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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (October 29, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679736514
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679736516
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By sweetmolly on December 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
"Intruder in the Dust" wraps a fine mystery around and through a story that could only happen in Faulkner country, yet is a timeless monument to man's stubbornness, stupidity and honor. Mr. Faulkner enfolds his prose around you like kudzu and makes you part of his world.
In a small Mississippi town in 1948, black Lucas Beauchamp is wrongfully arrested for shooting white Vinson Cowrie in the back. Sixteen-year old Charles Mallison owes Lucas a debt of honor incurred four years ago. Lucas hires Charles' cynical uncle, Gavin Stevens, to defend him. The most pressing matter is not Lucas' guilt or innocence; it is keeping him from getting lynched before he is arraigned. Lucas is a nightmare of a client. He is stubborn, stiff necked and proud. He dresses like an old time plantation owner and neither owes nor accepts favors from anyone. Uncle Gavin is trying to save Lucas' neck while Charles is trying to clear him. Gavin laments that Lucas would be easier to keep alive if "he would just ACT like a n----r." This Lucas refuses to do. There is body snatching, graveyards at night and some thoroughly frightening characters to liven up the journey.
Another reviewer mentioned "drunk on his prose," and it is a very apt description. It works best if read aloud; you will find Faulkner's rhythm and make it your own. The long sentences don't trouble if you just let his prose carry you along. Mr. Faulkner thinks any southern woman over 35 years old is a secret Amazon of quiet strength and fortitude, which makes for interesting characters, but is a little hard on credibility. There is long section on how "outsiders" (read "Northerners") have interfered and thereby delayed integration.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Tim Weber on May 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
No it's not one of Faulkner's "big four" (the classics "The Sound and the Fury," "As I Lay Dying," "Light in August" and "Absalom! Absalom!"), but "Intruder in the Dust" is certainly in his next tier of top novels, and is the one book that can fly in the face of the "he never wrote anything great after World War II" way of thinking. I enjoyed this book immensely. Yes, the sentences tend to be extremely long and the book is slow to get going, but find Faulkner's rhythm and stick with the story; you'll be glad you did. As always, the highlight is Faulkner's beautiful use of language, which always towers over whatever story he's writing and whatever flaws you may stumble upon along the way. This story of a black man wrongly accused of murder doesn't always go where you think it will or even where you want it to, but somehow it works brilliantly. Faulkner throws in his take (apparently) on how the South should handle civil rights on its own -- not really necessary to include and a small flaw in the book, I think. But stick with it, get drunk on the prose and enjoy an underappreciated work from a master. This relatively short book will be over too soon.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A.J. on October 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
After twenty years of writing experimental fiction and Hollywood screenplays, Faulkner seemed destined to create a novel like "Intruder in the Dust"--a noir-ish mystery set in Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, that incorporates his signature prose style into a continuing commentary on race relations in the South. The premise of the accusation of a black man for the murder of a white man may seem too facile, but the novel does not rely solely or even primarily on plot-driven intrigue; it is the criminal aspect only as it relates to the prevalent social attitudes that generates interest.

One day a local white man named Vinson Gowrie is found shot to death, and a black man named Lucas Beauchamp is arrested at the scene and charged with the murder. In this part of the country at this time in history, a black man who is even suspected of murdering a white man is in danger of being lynched, especially by people like Gowrie's relatives, who are from a particularly rough and bloodthirsty enclave living in an area called Beat Four.

The story is told in the third person but from the viewpoint of a white boy named Charles "Chick" Mallison, who in the past has tried to befriend the solitary but kind Beauchamp and is convinced of his innocence. With the help of his uncle Gavin Stevens, a lawyer who decides to represent Beauchamp, his black friend Aleck Sander, and an elderly spinster named Miss Habersham, Chick investigates the matter and discovers, unsurprisingly, that there is more to the case than initially meets the eye.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
I am in 11th grade, and my hackles naturally went up upon reading the several reviews written by high schoolers on the subject of this novel. Do not be put off by such efforts to defile a masterpiece. This is one of the most profound and convincing novels I have ever read.
Tolstoy once wrote that the success of any work of art depends ultimately upon the artist's maintaining an "independent moral relation" to his subject, and that he who does not bring to his work a fresh and enlightened view of the universe will invariably fail in attempting to create good art. Applying this criterion to Intruder in the Dust, Faulkner's novel stands as a paradigm of great art; for its moral scope and philosophical perspective are singularly awesome. Faulkner is simultaneously sympathetic toward and critical of that Southern society which serves as his subject, and yet he manages never to stoop to petty preaching or outright sermonizing. His work is a marvel of artistic delicacy and intensity. Bravo.
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