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The Sound and the Fury (Norton Critical Editions) 2nd Edition

511 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393964813
ISBN-10: 0393964817
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William Faulkner (1897–1962) is the Nobel Prize–winning author of The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, among other works.

David Minter is Libby Shearn Moody Professor of English at Rice University. He is co-editor of The Harper American Literature and The Columbia Literary History of the United States. He is author of Heirs of Changing Promise: A Cultural History of the American Novel, 1890–1940; William Faulkner: His Life and Work; and The Interpreted Design.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 2nd edition (December 17, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393964817
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393964813
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (511 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

313 of 328 people found the following review helpful By Itchywool on August 5, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first chapter is what puts people off this classic. Here is a simple way to understand that chapter. By followong who is caring for Benji you will know when things are taking place. It becomes a very easy chapter to read once you get used to this.

Versh - 1900-ish when Benji is 3-5

T.P. 1905-1912 when Benji is 15-ish

Luster - Present when Benji is 33.

Each time italics are incorporated Benji is changing his train of thought.

I find this book moving and very rewarding.
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159 of 171 people found the following review helpful By Faulknernut on August 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
In case you are one of the unlucky few that has not read THE SOUND AND THE FURY, let me tell you that you are missing one of literature's most prized works. As an English major, I have come across many "famous" novels that left me wondering what the author had to do (wink, wink) to get his/her novel well known. However, this novel is definitely not one of those.
In short, Faulkner's novel is about the Compson family, composed of a mentally disabled son (Benjy) , a sexual daughter (Caddy) and granddaughter (Quentin), a suicidal son (Quentin-yes, 2 Quentins!), an uncaring and greedy son (Jason) , a drunken father, a nutty mother, and a caring servant (Dilsey) and her family. The book itself is divided into four sections-one written by Benjy, one written by Quentin (the son), one by Jason, and one by Dilsey. Faulkner incorporates a HUGE amount of symbolism in this novel (something I love). However, what makes this novel famous are Faulkner's writing techniques. The first section by Benjy is pretty darn confusing, for Benjy is mentally retarded. Benjy's thoughts cover many time lengths and flash back and forth between times without any notice or any indication. The reader must figure out when something occurs. Often, only one paragraph may take place in time A, then it will switch to time B for a page, time C for a sentence, time B for 3 pages, and so on. Mostly what triggers these time changes are words. For example, Benjy is outside and hears a golfer call to his caddie (this occurs in time A). The word "caddie" triggers a thought about Caddy, his sister, and he thinks about a time in time G when somebody called out "Caddy" and so on. It sounds pretty confusing; that's because it is. Quentin's section is composed of stream-of-consciousness, something Faulkner is famous for using.
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107 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Chris on April 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
What could I possibly say besides this might very well be my all-time favorite book? This story of the fall of the Compson family, an aristocratic Southern family, mirrors the fall of the Old South after the Civil War. Faulkner is one of my favorite authors, and the way he changes the narrative viewpoint in this book is amazing. The first section of this book is told through the eyes of Benjy Compson, a thirty-three year old mentally retarded man. Only Faulkner could tell a story from this viewpoint. This section is incredibly difficult to read because it has no chronology: Benjy has no concept of time so he jumps from event to event as the story progresses. Often, he will make a jump of thirty years with little or no warning to the reader. The reader should not be discouraged from reading because of this; the reading gets progressively easier through the book, and future sections will also explain what happened in Benjy's section.
The second section is told by Quentin Compson on the day of his suicide. It may very well be the best use of stream of consciousness narration ever. It is filled with long, flowing thoughts, and there are even two sections where Faulkner disregards ALL punctuation to simulate the frantic pace of Quentin's obsessive thoughts.
The third section, told by Jason Compson, the "evil" brother, is my favorite; it is a darkly humorous masterpiece. Read it yourself to see what I mean. The fourth section is told by an omniscient third-person narrator, and this section contains Faulkner's trademark flowing prose.
I can't say enough good things about this book. It is an awesome book, rich in symbolism and imagery, and it contains many well-developed characters and themes. For this and for its groundbreaking experiments in narration, I consider The Sound and the Fury to be my favorite book of all time.
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242 of 275 people found the following review helpful By Walter Sobchak on February 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
Okay. I have had a bitter love/hate relationship with Faulkner since the first work I read of his, "The Bear." Well, after reading this novel, struggling, cussing, and questioning, I think it is safe to say that Faulkner is the greatest American author of the 20th century. (Deep breath) So what do we have in "The Sound and the Fury"? Too much to type, and I don't know most of it anyway. What I do know is that reading this book turns the experience into an obsession. It is tremendously difficult to read and it takes over your life. I believe that the reason Faulkner wrote it this way is because he is arguing that language can unite people. No, you can't use language to make good mothers, fathers, brothers, or sisters - just take a look at the Compson family. But maybe language can serve as a unifying factor between this and other books in Modernism? Whatever. Here, this might be at least slightly helpful. Caddy: Central character of the book. She is the object of fixation by her brothers, yet there isn't anything exceptional about her - the obsession is arbitrary. Faulkner doesn't give her a voice, but she speaks through her actions (Example: Squatting on the branch with muddy underwear looking through the window at her grandmother's funeral -- a feat her brother's looked upon with awe). Benjy: His narration is the first one of the book and it contains the truth of the Compson family situation objectively because he is retarded. The only thing he notices is that things happen, no emotions or thoughts attached. No desire. He does have an amazing ability in being able to predict Caddy's sexual decline (Young Caddy smells like trees, purity) - (Teenage Caddy smells like rain, she is wearing perfume).Read more ›
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