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martand
02-20-2007, 12:08 PM
Has anyone read this book? I didnt think I'd like it but I did. I might buy Faulkner's "As I lay dying" next.

Will Lavender
02-21-2007, 01:44 AM
Absalom! Absalom! is my favorite Faulkner. The Sound and the Fury is a pretty close second.

Both are tremendous books.

As I Lay Dying would be pretty far down the list, for me. It's a lot "thinner" than most of Faulkner, and the linguistic wizadry on showcase in the two books I mentioned at the top is pretty much absent. (Still, the "My mother is a fish" chapter is almost worth the price of admission just by itself.)

I would highly recommend against reading Faulkner if you're writing something. It's one of those styles that will find its way into your writing; there's really no way to keep him out.

martand
02-21-2007, 07:48 AM
I am still not getting over the Quentin section. It was really intricate so I had to read it twice. It really has gotten into my head. The way he is paralyzed by his obsession with caddy, how he wants to escape time and ends up committing suicide. All I think about is, ”Dalton Ames. Dalton Ames. Dalton Ames.”
Actually, now I’ve decided that I’m not reading anything else by Faulkner. You read and you end up wasting your time thinking about characters you learn nothing from + you feel depressed.

pdr
02-21-2007, 08:06 AM
Don't give up on Faulkner. He's one of the few Americans who makes the language sing. His ability with words is well worth studying.

blacbird
02-22-2007, 02:43 AM
I once read a commentary by a book reviewer (years ago, I can't recall his name) that said a most perceptive thing: "Students are taught to hate Faulkner by being forced to read The Sound and the Fury."

He's right. Not that S&F is a bad book, by any means, just that it's not the first Faulkner you probably should read. Or the second, or third, for that matter.

I had the good fortune of taking an undergrad class in Faulkner many years before present, under a Faulkner specialist. It was at the time, he maintained, the only undergraduate course in the nation specializing solely in Faulkner. For that class, we started with The Unvanquished, then Sartoris, then the shorts in Go Down, Moses, and after that, The Wild Palms. Only with that intro did we get into the books considered Faulkner's heavyweights. Of those, he wanted us to read Light in August first, but at the time it was only available in a very expensive hardback, so we skipped it (I read it after the class was over).

And even then, we put off S&F and As I Lay Dying until after we'd read The Snopes Trilogy; that set of three novels (The Hamlet, The Town, The Mansion) was for me, the high point of the course. I regard the Trilogy as one of the chief accomplishments of American literature. Far too few people are familiar with it.

We finished the course with The Reivers, Faulkner's last novel, and one explicitly intended to be his finale; a fine book in its own right, though somewhat lighter in tone and spirit than the great masterpieces. Faulkner died a short time after its publication.

So, in summary, if you are having trouble with S&F, you might consider tackling some of the more accessible Faulkners first, and The Unvanquished is a very good place to start.

caw

Will Lavender
02-22-2007, 03:35 AM
I once read a commentary by a book reviewer (years ago, I can't recall his name) that said a most perceptive thing: "Students are taught to hate Faulkner by being forced to read The Sound and the Fury."

He's right. Not that S&F is a bad book, by any means, just that it's not the first Faulkner you probably should read. Or the second, or third, for that matter.

I had the good fortune of taking an undergrad class in Faulkner many years before present, under a Faulkner specialist. It was at the time, he maintained, the only undergraduate course in the nation specializing solely in Faulkner. For that class, we started with The Unvanquished, then Sartoris, then the shorts in Go Down, Moses, and after that, The Wild Palms. Only with that intro did we get into the books considered Faulkner's heavyweights. Of those, he wanted us to read Light in August first, but at the time it was only available in a very expensive hardback, so we skipped it (I read it after the class was over).

And even then, we put off S&F and As I Lay Dying until after we'd read The Snopes Trilogy; that set of three novels (The Hamlet, The Town, The Mansion) was for me, the high point of the course. I regard the Trilogy as one of the chief accomplishments of American literature. Far too few people are familiar with it.

We finished the course with The Reivers, Faulkner's last novel, and one explicitly intended to be his finale; a fine book in its own right, though somewhat lighter in tone and spirit than the great masterpieces. Faulkner died a short time after its publication.

So, in summary, if you are having trouble with S&F, you might consider tackling some of the more accessible Faulkners first, and The Unvanquished is a very good place to start.

caw

Good post, blacbird.

I believe there's a film version of The Reivers.

The Robert Duvall film Tomorrow is a pretty good film.

blacbird
02-22-2007, 09:00 AM
I believe there's a film version of The Reivers.


There is. Steve McQueen starred in it. It's pretty good, worth a watch.

caw

calamity
02-24-2007, 01:53 AM
I like his shorts quite a bit. Just yesterday I reread Barn Burning.

britwrit
02-26-2007, 08:05 PM
Absalom! Absalom! was one of my favorite books in college but I hadn't read much else of Faulkner. When I saw that The Sound and the Fury also had Quentin Compson, I was so happy and bought it right away. Oh boy! I thought. A sequel!

gerrydodge
06-12-2007, 11:25 PM
I was just going through the threads in the book club and I came upon Faulkner. My son's middle name is Faulkner! Carson Faulkner Dodge. Anyway, Will, you're right. There was a film of THE REIVERS and Steve McQueen played Boon Hogenbeck. Will Geer played Ike's grandfather. Blacbird, my first year as an AP teacher I taught THE SOUND AND THE FURY. I soon discovered that I had compiled a huge number of kids who would never read Faulkner again. Now I teach AS I LAY DYING. They read LIGHT IN AUGUST for summer reading. Anyway, for anyone who would be interested, I wrote a short story based on Quentin, Caddy's daughter, and it was published at projected letters. I'd be interested to hear what Faulkner fans think.

moonslice
06-23-2007, 05:24 AM
[QUOTE=blacbird;1141744]I once read a commentary by a book reviewer (years ago, I can't recall his name) that said a most perceptive thing: "Students are taught to hate Faulkner by being forced to read The Sound and the Fury."

yip blacbird - that is exactly what happened to me years ago in my little american and british novels class. i don't think i ever read another faulkner novel.

gerrydodge
06-23-2007, 06:03 AM
[quote=blacbird;1141744]I once read a commentary by a book reviewer (years ago, I can't recall his name) that said a most perceptive thing: "Students are taught to hate Faulkner by being forced to read The Sound and the Fury."

yip blacbird - that is exactly what happened to me years ago in my little american and british novels class. i don't think i ever read another faulkner novel.

Try again. You don't know what you're missing. Jason Compson's famous section begins: Once a bitch, always a bitch. Anyway, I know why you would shy away from Faulkner, but what is important about him is that he was always changing. He never once wrote the same kind of book. SANCTUARY was entirely different than LIGHT IN AUGUST. I remember when I first picked up WILD PALMS, I had to look at the cover again to make sure it was written by Faulkner. Sartre once said about AS I LAY DYING something like, anyone could have written this novel, and then half way through he thought, no one wrote this novel. That's a bad paraphrase, but what he meant, I think, is that it was so damn real. These were real people speaking.

dragoon_elf
04-28-2009, 09:56 PM
I hope to dedicate this summer to reading him more.

Can I ask everyone, what was your initial attraction to Faulkner? Your favorite novel of his?

I'm kind of wondering how he is viewed in the consensus of today's criticism. In other words, he obviously paralleled familial legacies with the history of the South among many other "hefty ideas," but what are current readers saying about his very historically-confined texts?

Penny for your thoughts :)

dragoon_elf
04-28-2009, 09:59 PM
I also ask because of my recent discovery of the following article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2009/mar/19/william-faulkner-france-telerama

Delhomeboy
04-28-2009, 10:43 PM
I hope to dedicate this summer to reading him more.

Can I ask everyone, what was your initial attraction to Faulkner? Your favorite novel of his?

I'm kind of wondering how he is viewed in the consensus of today's criticism. In other words, he obviously paralleled familial legacies with the history of the South among many other "hefty ideas," but what are current readers saying about his very historically-confined texts?

Penny for your thoughts :)

He's tough. Very very tough. But, as with most things, if you can read and understand him it's very rewarding. I've read Light In August, As I Lay Dying, and The Sound and the Fury, and I'd say The Sound and the Fury is my favorite I've read. I need to get around to Absalom, Absalom though...

And although his texts may be historically-confined (although, I don't really know if this is true or not), his style wasn't. He was a pioneer at writing fiction, and both he and Ernest Hemingway changed prose more than another other American writers ever, I believe. Not one of my oh-my-gosh-I-love-him authors, but no one can deny his talent and his contribution to writing in general.

dragoon_elf
04-29-2009, 03:49 AM
And although his texts may be historically-confined (although, I don't really know if this is true or not), his style wasn't. He was a pioneer at writing fiction, and both he and Ernest Hemingway changed prose more than another other American writers ever, I believe. Not one of my oh-my-gosh-I-love-him authors, but no one can deny his talent and his contribution to writing in general.

I can agree with this. The two I have read are As I Lay Dying and Absalom, Absalom! and I can def. agree with his innovative modernist techniques.

Anyone else want to chime in??

LAWolf
04-29-2009, 04:13 AM
I read The Unvanquished and Absalom, Absalom! I didn't hate either one, but it certainly wasn't light reading. In fact, I read them both in graduate school and struggled tirelessly through them. I loved the characters and the plot though. We read those the same semester as Gone with the Wind though, and in retrospect, I think I dislike Faulkner just because his writing was more difficult than Mitchell's novel. Not as fun and airy.

Angelus
04-29-2009, 05:54 AM
Faulkner is not difficult. The idea of reading him has become so. Absalom! Absalom! is probably his best work. His work is dated, to be sure. Very few writers today spend as much time writing as they do watching movies and TV. Light in August is my favorite because he had lines in it like this "Memory knows before knowing can remember." Yes, I am a fan. As I Lay Dying is interesting because he had several characters narrating but they all had pretty much the same voice. That is either cheeky or incompetent. I go with cheeky. The whole Southern Writers' thing is something I have always found suspect. Suspect in that someone like Faulkner is considered too provincial. I think northeastern writers could be accused of the same. Or Indian, or Chinese, whatever. So...big fan

AncientEagle
04-29-2009, 06:09 AM
I've been a Faulkner fan since college. His work rang true for me, probably because a lot of it echoed the South I was born and grew up in. In addition to the earlier novels, mentioned above, I liked The Town, The Hamlet, and The Mansion. I also liked his short stories. If you've never read "Turnabout," please do.

dragoon_elf
04-29-2009, 07:47 AM
Faulkner is not difficult. The idea of reading him has become so. Absalom! Absalom! is probably his best work.

Why do you think Absalom, Absalom is his best? I guess I'm trying to position Faulkner with the other Modernist writers of his period, and seeing how he is often held in higher literary regard than the others.

eyeblink
04-29-2009, 11:23 AM
The Sound and the Fury is a great - and certainly initially difficult - novel. It's the only one I've read, though.

General Joy
04-29-2009, 03:43 PM
I've read As I Lay Dying and Sanctuary, and liked them both, especially the former. I love the liberties Faulkner takes with writing. I read AILD for a college course (but was so glad it was assigned!) and read Sanctuary because in the foreword of the novel, it said something about how when Faulkner presented the manuscript to his editor, the editor gaped at him and said "They're not going to publish this!" It was supposed to be too scandalous, or too perverse maybe, for publication. That made me so curious that I had to read it.

Saint Fool
04-29-2009, 11:33 PM
I've been slowly working my way through Faulkner. I'll admit I was intimidated by his "difficult/impossible read" reputation, but I'm glad I started (albeit with a collection of his short stories.) He's a great story teller (and yest, I agree, sometimes a bit cheeky). Yoknapatawpha County (I hope I've spelled that right) is a great example of world-building.

Fulk
05-05-2009, 06:45 AM
I've only read As I Lay Dying, and it was only this semester. It was a rough read, and I'm certain I still haven't grasped everything there is to his work. I'll probably read more of his work at some point, but I have a lot of other classics and literary legends to read through first.

tomber
05-06-2009, 02:11 AM
I've read everything, except for a handful of short stories. However, his best works grow deeper with re-reading. I've gone through his major works at least three times or so. Each time the experience is more pleasurable, even if the emotional experience is more jarring. I mean, aside from the difficulty of the texts themselves, the almost relentless pessimism of his early, best works makes the going rough.

His greatness is indicated by the fact that Sound and Fury, As I lay Dying, Light in August, Absalom Absalom, and Go Down Moses are all required reading for anyone interested in true literacy. Five books? Amazing.

The Snopes Trilogy, Unvanquished, Intruder in the Dust, The Reivers and Collected Short Stories are probably not essential, but their value is diminshed only when compared to the titles on the first list; they would be considered masterpieces in nearly any author's ouvre.

I never cared for Sanctuary or Fable, however.

So it's well and good that you're dipping your toes into Faulkner this summer, but I think he can only be fully appriciated after many rewarding years of grappling with his texts.

Of course, now as in during his lifetime, there are a number of well-respected critics who wouldn't recommend reading him at all.

RunawayScribe
05-09-2009, 06:51 AM
Eh. I'll admit the guy was a revolutionary, but I don't enjoy reading him. Not my style. Too heavy and slow.

Medievalist
05-09-2009, 07:17 AM
He played for the Cubs, right?

blacbird
05-09-2009, 07:40 AM
I had the wonderful advantage of taking a Faulkner course as an undergrad English major, from a Faulkner scholar, at the time the only undergrad-level course devoted exclusively to Faulkner's work in the United States. About the first thing the Prof said was that most English courses teach students to detest Faulkner by assigning the most difficult stuff first, stuff out of context with the body of his work. And of all major fiction writers I can think of, the context of Faulkner's work matters most. There's a (slightly flexible) order in which his major works should be read, and this is how we did it in the class:

The Unvanquished
Sartoris
The Wild Palms
Go Down, Moses
Sanctuary
The Hamlet
The Town
The Mansion
Intruder in the Dust
As I Lay Dying
The Sound and the Fury
The Reivers

The Prof would have had us read Light in August right after Sanctuary, but at the time it was not available in an inexpensive print edition. so we didn't read it. I read it later. It's a far better major novel to read as a first go than The Sound and the Fury, which is absolutely the most difficult. Getting accustomed to Faulkner's hypnotic prose style is enormously important, and understanding its evolution equally so.

In retrospect, for anyone considering starting to read Faulkner's work, I'd actually begin with The Wild Palms, a wonderful book with his Mississippi setting, but otherwise unconnected with his Yoknapatawpha novels. Go Down, Moses is a volume of longish short stories which makes a good place to start, as well. And, in my view, the acme of Faulkner's work is the Snopes trilogy, The Hamlet, The Town, The Mansion, a magnificent set of novels telling a single story, which he wrote over a couple of decades, interspersed with other works. The culminating novel, The Mansion, in particular, is just plain a masterpiece.

The final novel on the list, The Reivers, was in fact Faulkner's final work. He died within weeks of its publication, and it reads as if it were his designed farewell to writing, much like Shakespeare's last play, The Tempest. It is actually quite a good and readable work, one of the best novels ever to win the Pulitzer Prize. Faulkner won another Pulitzer in the 1950s for a truly crappy novel, A Fable. That was after he had already won the Nobel Prize, and was largely a recognition by the Pulitzer folks of his reputation rather than of the quality of the novel itself. In that novel, as in his earliest three or four novels, he strayed from his Mississippi roots, much to his discredit.

My fifty-cent lecture on Willliam Faulkner. Pay me via PayPal.

caw

Manderley
05-09-2009, 11:41 PM
I'm having Faulkner's Intruder in the Dust as my slow-reading project at the moment. If this had been my main read, I'd but it down a long time ago for being to slow and meandering in its sentences, but because I've allowed it to be a slow-read project, I have more patience with it. I pick it up now and again, read a few pages or a chapter, and then put it down again for another week or two.

blacbird
05-10-2009, 09:58 AM
The more you read of Faulkner, the faster the reading tends to become. His prose has a sonorous, hypnotic quality that carries a kind of subliminal sense to the reader.

And I forgot Absalom, Absalom! on my list above, which we read in the class just before Sound y Fury, as I recall. It is definitely one of his finest.

caw