Book #6-The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

This could have, and should have been a great book.  Unfortunately, Faulkner’s use of the stream of consciousness technique served only to confuse and annoy this reader.  His use of various “voices” was effective, however, the out of sequence dates was not.  Why start on April 7, 1928 and go back to June 1910 and back to April 6, 1928 and then April 8, 1928?  Perhaps there was some significance, but if so, it was lost on me.

Why this could have been a great book were the characters.  Even though you hated Jason, the bitter Compson son, you could feel his disgust with others and particularly, his own family.  You never feel sorry for the mentally challenged Benjy because you realize, he is the most contented of the Compson family.  It was sometimes hard to distinguish the only Compson daughter, Caddy from her own daughter, Quentin as they were both so alike in their rebellion.  Overall, the “southern” characters were each unique and had clear and distinct voices.

I’d love to sit down with Faulkner and tell him to forget about the fads (stream of consciousness anyone?) and just let his characters do the writing for him.  I’m sure he’d have a thing or two to tell me!

My rating for The Sound and the Fury is an 8 out of 10.

Please check the entire list of Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels.

Next up, Joseph Heller’s Catch 22

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5 Comments

Filed under The Sound and the Fury

5 responses to “Book #6-The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

  1. Pam

    I am not a Faulkner fan by a long shot (I remember reading this one in college, going “what the hell???”) so I salute you for reading it. I will have to eventually…but at least it’s a ways up the list for me. 🙂

  2. I agree that this was a tough slog of a book, but when you get to “As I Lay Dying”, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

    Each chapter is written from a different character’s point of view and after awhile you are able to put down your pencil because you really have a handle on the characters.

    Just as a small note on “The Sound and the Fury”… Faulkner tried to write the novel 4 times and gave up on each version that he wrote. The novel is just these four versions in one book.

    • vsudia

      Perhaps Faulkner should have selected one version and stuck with that. I did actually like the book, but the format was very distracting.

      Sure hope I can appreciate Faulkner more with As I Lay Dying.

      • I agree with you. Instead of what may have been ‘giving up’, it would have been better with a good edit job.

        According to Wikipedia, it didn’t become popular until “Sanctuary” was written in 1931… and given that “As I Lay Dying” was written in 1930… it seems that this became popular later as well.

  3. Nicholas Haines

    The confusing chronology in Parts 1 and 2 of the novel reflects the mental state of the characters. Benjy is severely intellectually disabled and does not experience life in a linear, narrative form. His thoughts are a jumble of sensations, impressions and memories, with each thought leaping tangentially to another. Quentin’s narrative begins lucidly but becomes convoluted as his mental health disintegrates.

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