Tag Archives: William Faulkner

Let’s Get Literal – Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

List Item: Read 100 of the greatest works of fiction
Progress: 62/100Title: Absalom, Absalom!
Author: William Faulkner
Year: 1936
Country: USA

A few weeks ago, I played a game of ‘bivalve literature’ with my favourite work colleague and I ended up coming out with Crabsalom, Crabsalom! It is only for this reason that I chose this as my next book. It helps that there was still multiple Faulkner books that I had to get to for this list, but I just wanted to read the book that I now associated with crabs. Sadly, there wasn’t a single crustacean in this book.

More sadly, I began this and suddenly remembered what had kinda put me off about The Sound and the Fury. Faulkner has good stories, I can’t deny that. What he also has, however, is The power to create such long sentences that it feels like a punishment. Truly, I have never known a writer able to make a sentence more than two pages long that can be so hard to follow. There were times where I had to go back and start again because my eyes inadvertently skipped a line and I was lost forever in his sea of words.

The story itself is interesting as its this sort of Russian nesting doll feel of truth as you get to know the family history of the Sutpen’s as seen through the eyes of one of the characters from The Sound and the Fury. Hell, at one point I was enjoying some queer interpreting of my own. Then it took a turn and rather than fact, the story changed into how the narrator and his friend at university extrapolated the facts and made a story of their own. I don’t know, but after slaving away at this book for a week and on the flights to and from my in-laws, this felt like such a cheat that I got unreasonably angry.

I hope my next book goes better than this one. Almost felt like time for The Wind and the Willows to be trotted out, but I’m going to go for one of the Virginia Woolfs instead. It’d be nice to try out one of the few remaining female-written books on my list.

Let’s Get Literal – The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

List Item: Read 100 of the greatest works of fiction
Progress: 45/100Title: The Sound And The Fury
Author: William Faulkner
Year: 1929
Country: USA

With three entries on the book list, it was about time that I got around to my first William Faulkner. This book also continues me along my adventures in the world of the literature of the American South. Seriously, there are an awful lot of books on this list that delve into this area of the world after the American Civil War. I guess it shows how much can be mined from this period in time and, equally, how US focused this list is in places.

For The Sound And The Fury we spend four chapters (each with their own viewpoint) examining the lives of the white Compson family as they fall further into ruin and disrepute. It’s not an easy read and, for the first half of the novel, it’s a bit difficult to untangle what is happening. Things do come together with the final two (more straightforward) chapters as we move from the less mentally stable characters to the more put together ones.

What makes this an interesting (and sometimes confusing) read is how the first two viewpoints are written as a stream-of-consciousness. The first viewpoint (Benji) is the most confusing as this is a man who has some sort of mental disability (think Lenny in Of Mice and Men) which means that his thoughts are all out of order. It gives an interesting look at what live might be like inside his head, but I did need assurance from people online that this was a book really worth finishing.

The answer is that, yes, it is. Faulkner uses four very different personalities to paint how this family fell into ruin. The second chapter demonstrates extreme stress and the encroaching darkness of depression; the third takes on greed and anger whereas the final one (narrated by one of the black servants) is the most grounded and focuses on family, duty and endurance.

It’s difficult to say that I enjoyed this book, but I definitely got something out of it that I had never really read before in a book. I do wish there had been an additional point of view chapter from the daughter (or granddaughter) in the place of the appendix, but I think that would need to be the penultimate one as Dilsey’s really is the chapter worth ending on.

Whilst I am not even half way through this list, I am looking to the future. Will I add a new book list to my blog after completing this Top 100? Or will I take the time to get really far ahead on the comics list? Not sure, but for now I am going back into the world of written fiction and choose one of the many remaining books that were written by a female author.