Friday, August 27, 2010

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

reviewed by Ingrid

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Published: 1929

It's about: The Sound and the Fury is about the moral downfall of Caddy Compson, through the eyes of her three brothers - Benjy, who is extremely mentally disabled; Quentin, who is neurotic and suicidal; and Jason, who is misogynistic, racist, and pretty much an all around bad guy. This book is separated into four very different sections, the first three narrative by each of Caddy's respective brothers, the last section is narrated in the third person and follows the Compson's black servant, Dilsey.

I thought: Wow, I have to admit this book was tough. It is pretty much impossible to read through The Sound and the Fury for the first time without help of some kind. The first two sections are especially heavy with stream-of-consciousness. Events do not occur chronologically. The narrative does not follow a specific storyline, but rather the stream of thoughts that enter the narrator's mind. In the case of Benjy, who is mentally disabled, this is especially difficult to follow.

Despite this difficulty, I think the stream-of-consciousness resonated powerfully. In reading this book, my mind was exercised in a different way ... it's as if I'm actually thinking instead of reading. Stream of consciousness mirrors the way the mind works. This draws the reader even deeper into the book. Does that make sense?

Faulkner is an incredibly skilled writer. The writing style varies from each section, making each narrator's voice clear and distinct.

Also, the way spaces and events are described that occur outside the mind tend to mirror in their description how they are perceived. For example:

We crossed the river. The bridge, that is, arching slow and high into space, between silence and nothingness where lights--yellow and red and green--trembled in the clear air, repeating themselves.

This style is what makes Faulkner's writing incredibly distinct. It's difficult, but in my opinion, entirely worth the effort. Overall I thought this book was great.

Verdict: I am putting this one on the shelf.

Reading Recommendations: Take your time reading this book. Don't be afraid to use a little help. Your first time through is going to be disorienting - that's alright, don't panic!

(image via)

Favorite excerpts:

"The first boy went on. His bare feet made no sound, falling softer than leaves in the thin dust. In the orchard the bees sounded like a wind getting up, a sound caught by a spell just under crescendo and sustained. The lane went along the wall, arched over, shattered with bloom, dissolving into trees. Sunlight slanted into it, sparse and eager. Yellow butterflies flickered along the shade like flecks of sun."