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The Sound and the Fury: The Corrected Text Paperback – January 30, 1991

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The ostensible subject of The Sound and the Fury is the dissolution of the Compsons, one of those august old Mississippi families that fell on hard times and wild eccentricity after the Civil War. But in fact what William Faulkner is really after in his legendary novel is the kaleidoscope of consciousness--the overwrought mind caught in the act of thought. His rich, dark, scandal-ridden story of squandered fortune, incest (in thought if not in deed), madness, congenital brain damage, theft, illegitimacy, and stoic endurance is told in the interior voices of three Compson brothers: first Benjy, the "idiot" man-child who blurs together three decades of inchoate sensations as he stalks the fringes of the family's former pasture; next Quentin, torturing himself brilliantly, obsessively over Caddy's lost virginity and his own failure to recover the family's honor as he wanders around the seedy fringes of Boston; and finally Jason, heartless, shrewd, sneaking, nursing a perpetual sense of injury and outrage against his outrageous family.

If Benjy's section is the most daringly experimental, Jason's is the most harrowing. "Once a bitch always a bitch, what I say," he begins, lacing into Caddy's illegitimate daughter, and then proceeds to hurl mud at blacks, Jews, his sacred Compson ancestors, his glamorous, promiscuous sister, his doomed brother Quentin, his ailing mother, and the long-suffering black servant Dilsey who holds the family together by sheer force of character.

Notoriously "difficult," The Sound and the Fury is actually one of Faulkner's more accessible works once you get past the abrupt, unannounced time shifts--and certainly the most powerful emotionally. Everything is here: the complex equilibrium of pre-civil rights race relations; the conflict between Yankee capitalism and Southern agrarian values; a meditation on time, consciousness, and Western philosophy. And all of it is rendered in prose so gorgeous it can take your breath away. Here, for instance, Quentin recalls an autumnal encounter back home with the old black possum hunter Uncle Louis:

And we'd sit in the dry leaves that whispered a little with the slow respiration of our waiting and with the slow breathing of the earth and the windless October, the rank smell of the lantern fouling the brittle air, listening to the dogs and to the echo of Louis' voice dying away. He never raised it, yet on a still night we have heard it from our front porch. When he called the dogs in he sounded just like the horn he carried slung on his shoulder and never used, but clearer, mellower, as though his voice were a part of darkness and silence, coiling out of it, coiling into it again. WhoOoooo. WhoOoooo. WhoOooooooooooooooo.
What Faulkner has created is a modernist epic in which characters assume the stature of gods and the primal family events resonate like myths. It is The Sound and the Fury that secures his place in what Edmund Wilson called "the full-dressed post-Flaubert group of Conrad, Joyce, and Proust." --David Laskin


“I am in awe of Faulkner’s Benjy, James’s Maisie, Flaubert’s Emma, Melville’s Pip, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein—each of us can extend the list. . . . I am interested in what prompts and makes possible this process of entering what one is estranged from.” —Toni Morrison
“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

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st edition (October 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679732241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679732242
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (572 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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