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Light in August (The Corrected Text) Paperback – International Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage International/Random House; 1st Vintage International edition (January 30, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679732268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679732266
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“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
“Faulkner’s greatness resided primarily in his power to transpose the American scene as it exists in the Southern states, filter it through his sensibilities and finally define it with words.” —Richard Wright

From the Inside Flap

Joe Christmas does not know whether he is black or white. Faulkner makes of Joe's tragedy a powerful indictment of racism; at the same time Joe's life is a study of the divided self and becomes a symbol of 20th century man.

More 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.

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Customer Reviews

A very good story, and written in a nice, easy style.
Jonny Euchre
Faulkner is one of the greatest literary writers of the world, and Light in August is proof of that.
Kimberly Rodriguez
And it leaves one with a great deal of memorable violent and sexual imagery.
Luis M. Luque

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

146 of 149 people found the following review helpful By Luis M. Luque on April 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
After reading Faulkner's four major masterpieces -- The Sound and the Fury; Absalom, Absalom!; As I Lay Dying; and Light in August -- I've come to the conclusion that Light in August is far and away the easiest to read, has the most dramatic plot, the most intriguing primary characters in Joe Christmas, Gail Hightower and Joanna Burden, and even some of his most intriguing minor characters in Uncle Doc Hines and Mr. McEachern. Overall, it is his most readable and likeable masterpiece. And it leaves you wanting so much more.

The complex and ambiguous character of Joe Christmas alone could have been the source of three or four novels detailing different times in his life. While Christmas is hardly a likeable person, he is fascinating, hypnotic, a train wreck; you can't keep your eyes off him. His actions are morally ambiguous and inconsistent and yet fully understandable within his nature. As a creation he deserves to rank with Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, Captain Ahab and Jay Gatsby in the pantheon of American literary characters.

Faulkner has a big mission here. The novel exposes the evils of racism both in the South and among white, northern abolitionists. It traffics in religious symbolism while savaging religious fanatacism. And it leaves one with a great deal of memorable violent and sexual imagery. And that's just for starters. This book is deep, and while it's storytelling is largely non-linear, it is far more palatable than the other three, which tend to be confusing and obscure. Enjoy this one. If you've never read Faulkner, it's a great starter.
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79 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Chapin on June 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
I always recommend Light in August to people who say that Faulkner is impenetrable. Here the pages flow effortlessly by and the story line is easy to follow. There's none of the interior monologues that so confuse and derail those picking up the southern master for the first time. This plot is more traditional and will be readily appreciated by the average person.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on August 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
"Light in August" may well be my favorite Faulkner novel. With its three interwoven plots, its use of flashback, and its family secrets, the book reads like a multi-generational saga--even though the main storyline occurs over a mere nine days. It deals unflinchingly and unsettlingly with such complex themes as isolation and bigotry in small-town life, race relationships (and, particularly, the meaning of race itself), the constrictions of a strict religious upbringing, and the terror of sexual pathology. And, like Faulkner's other work, it paints an often unsettling, occasionally gloomy, and even comic portrait of the American South.

The lives of several initially far-flung characters overlap in the novel's complex plot. First, the naïve Lena Grove arrives in Jefferson, searching for Lucas Burch, the man who abandoned her after getting her pregnant; she meets instead Byron Bunch, a quiet man who believes working on Saturdays will keep him out of trouble. Unrelated to Lena's personal calamity is Bunch's friend Reverend Gail Hightower, who lost his ministry and became a reclusive outcast when his wife openly cheated on him and eventually killed herself.

But the most powerful and memorable character is the mysterious Joe Christmas, a brooding wanderer whose ancestry is unknown and who finds work (and more) from Joanna Burden, a descendant of abolitionists who continues alone her family's historical advocacy for civil rights. Bringing the stories full-circle is Christmas's relationship with the elusive Lucas Burch; the two drifters operate a moonshine business while they live on Burden's property.

In the character of Joe Christmas, Faulkner has invested all his own conflicted feelings and insecurities about race and religion.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Whitney on December 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
I was recently assigned Faulkner for a major English III project; the teacher informed the class that we would read three books by our respective authors, write reports on each, and conclude with a research paper over all three. Having been assigned As I Lay Dying for summer reading, I was rather intimidated...Faulkner's style is hardly something to be taken lightly, and I found that I was still learning new (important) bits of the plot after many readings.

When I got to Light in August (my second report book, after Sound and the Fury), I was relieved; while still maintaining that obvious "hey, you're reading Faulkner!" air, it was much easier to comprehend and a highly intriguing plot. I really wish I had had the opportunity to start with Light in August because of that fact. It's Faulkner, but you don't have to rely on Cliff's Notes just to work your way through a single page. I would definitely recommend starting off with this one to get your feet wet, then move on to the greater challenges of his other works *cough cough* Absalom, Absalom! and Sound and the Fury *cough cough*.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Myers VINE VOICE on January 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
I only gave this book four stars because I don't believe it measures up to his two best works:Absalom, Absalom! and As I Lay Dying.-It is well worth remembering that Faulkner began his literary career with visions of being a poet. His first published work was a collection of verse entitled The Marble Faun. His failure as a poet outright may help explain why his prose is so turgid, convoluted but also profound and insightful beyond MERE prose. It's as if he's trying to correct his initial failure as intensely as posible. In the process of doing so, he became one of the gratest novelists in 20th Century American Literature. (Second only to Thomas Wolfe in my opinion.)-I guess the reason I like this book less than the aforementioned Faulkner works is the same reason most of the other reviewers like it more: It doesn't have enough of that turgid, mystical omniscient kaleidoscopic introspective prose that make the other novels so brilliant; But also, I admit, harder to plough through for a beginner.-Here's an example of what I'm talking about: Joe Christmas is observing his mistress in the daylight, "Meanwhile he could see her from a distance now and then in the daytime, about the rear premises, where moved articulate beneath the clean, austere garments that she wore that rotten richness ready to flow into putrefaction at a touch,like something growing in a swamp, not once looking toward the cabin or toward him. And when he thought of that other personality that seemed to exist somewhere in the darkness itself, it seemed to him that what he saw now by daylight was a phantom of someone whom the night sister had murdered and which now moved purposeless about the scenes of old peace, robbed even of the power of lamenting.Read more ›
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