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The Sound and the Fury: The Corrected Text Paperback – January 30, 1991
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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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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 ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
William Faulkner is my favorite writer for his unparalleled craftsmanship. No paragraph, sentence or WORD could be omitted or added that would not take away from his creation. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Dennis
very difficult reading as the main character changes name w/o any indication, stream of consciousness, concrete thinking dialect, time warping etc but once i got the hang of... Read morePublished 18 days ago by Karen B. Peterlin
On my first reading, I enjoyed the second half of the book more than the first half. I was mystified by that so when I finished the book, I immediately went back to the first page... Read morePublished 20 days ago by Robert Miller
Too much dialogue with poorly educated people of Mississippi; an embarrassment to the state.Published 22 days ago by Amazon Customer
A classic, but I prefer "As I Lay Dying". Some of the literary acrobatics--though ground-breaking--distract from the story and the reading experience. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Brad Ashlock
This will definitely take a second read to grab every element going on in the story. Once things are put together, it is a very vivid story with deep characters.Published 28 days ago by Valerie W.