Wednesday, July 3, 2013
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Hooo boy. It's a beaut.
It's edgy, strange, and challenging to follow - but follow it I did. Sort of. I thought I knew stream-of-conciousness writing through Cormac McCarthy, whose work I love, but The Sound and the Fury pushes the bounderies of what I can reasonably tolerate. Looking back on the whole story, I can appreciate what Faulkner is trying to do. There's a sense that we are looking into the characters' minds as they are going about their activities and interactions, but with the lack of enough immediate context we have to keep reading to form a picture of what's going on. It's almost like trying to decipher a code, which gets exhausting pretty quickly. Either that or someone dropped the manuscript on the way to printer and just shuffled the papers back together any old way. The chronology is somewhat . . . loose. The text, too, is often just a random assortment of words and expressions, like someone messed with the author's typewriter or spiked his drinks, sentences just starting and stopping without a punctuation mark in sight. It's a cerebral workout, this book. Not impossible, just . . . strenuous.
Weird as it is, it's interesting enough and I'm glad to have read it. There was some truly lovely writing here and there, enough that I'd like to try some of his other books. I have Light in August and As I Lay Dying on my TBR shelf. I just have to give myself some recovery time . . .
One of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, The Sound and the Fury is the tragedy of the Compson family, featuring some of the most memorable characters of American literature: beautiful, rebellious Caddy; the man-child Benjy; haunted, neurotic Quentin; Jason, the brutal cynic; and Dilsey, their black servant.