Here’s a problem I face when I’m reviewing or offering my opinion on famous, well-received novels.
I have to separate my subjective opinion from a much wider objective opinion. For example, I recently wrote about how much I really disliked Possession. I’ve called the novel “dull,” “a slog,” and all sorts of other negative things. The same goes for other novels at the bottom of my highly subjective and basically meaningless rankings, like Mrs. Dalloway, A Dance To The Music of Time, and The Sound and the Fury.
I have to recognize that though I dislike, and even greatly dislike, these novels, many literature critics who know much more than me believe these are some of the best novels ever written. Read more
I guess this means I need to read The Sound and the Fury three more times to get it.
I really hated The Sound and The Fury.
And that surprised me. Faulkner’s a southern boy, he’s “my people,” so I really thought I would enjoy that novel.
But I think I would rather eat cold grits and 3-day-old scrambled eggs than read that novel again.
That said, if I ever choose to read The Sound and the Fury again, I have a better option than the traditional versions of the novel.
This week, I’m revisiting some of my favorite posts from 2011 while I take a one-week break from writing and simply focus on reading and spending time with my family. This post was originally published on May 11, 2011. 101 Books will return live on Monday January 2. See you then!
What just happened?
That’s the first question I asked myself after reading the final word of Infinite Jest. And while that might seem like a bad question to be asking oneself at the end of a 1,000 page book, it wasn’t unexpected.
I’m not sure I could count how many times I asked myself “What just happened?” while reading David Foster Wallace’s masterpiece over the last six weeks. It happened, like, a bunch of times–enough to be qualified as a recurring theme in my head.
It happened enough for me to say Infinite Jest is supremely frustrating at times–the loose, non-linear plot, the $10 words, the pure effort that the book takes to read.
But is that the point? Is that what David Foster Wallace was after? Did he want to make you work your butt off to read this book?
Reading The Sound and The Fury helped me realize something important: This 101 book project is a lot like marathon training.
Over the course of the 16 weeks I trained, I made somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 70 runs. Every now and then, maybe once every 10 runs, I would step outside, walk down my driveway, and seriously consider skipping that training run.
I just didn’t want to put in the effort that day. I felt unmotivated and thought, What’s it going to hurt to skip one 5 mile run anyway? But I willed myself to put one foot in front of the other. And after about 45 minutes of running, I completed my mileage goal for the day.
Even if I was simply going through the motions–getting the “mileage in”–I still felt a sense of accomplishment, satisfied that I had fought through that desire to quit.
The Sound and The Fury was a lot like those training runs. No doubt, I went through the motions of reading this book. This novel is recognized as William Faulkner’s premier work. It’s ranked as the sixth greatest novel on the Modern Library list. It’s a classic in every sense of the word.
And now, after much weeping and gnashing of teeth, I can check book #27 off the list.
Ever wondered what true stream-of-consciousness writing looked like?
This passage comes from page 94 of The Sound and The Fury. Take it away, William Faulkner:
One interesting aspect of a popular novel that was released in the 1920s–it usually has all sorts of unique book covers because it has been reprinted so many times.
That’s definitely the case with The Sound and The Fury. Before I post my preview for each novel, I always do an image search for book covers on Google. This Faulkner novel might have more different covers than any book I’ve read so far.
So, with a nod to my post about creepy Neuromancer book covers, I thought we could take a look at some of The Sound and The Fury‘s more interesting covers.
It’s time for this Southern boy to dive into some Faulkner.
The Sound and The Fury is one of two Faulkner novels on the list–the second being Light in August. I read excerpts of Faulkner in college, as well as short stories he wrote, but I’ve never read an entire Faulkner novel.
The book, like all of Faulkner’s novels, is set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. This one centers on the Compsons–a family who were once Southern aristocrats but have come on hard times. The first section of the book is told from the point of view of a 33-year-old mentally handicapped man named Benji. It appears to be somewhat difficult to read and nonlinear.
Faulkner uses the stream-of-consciousness technique (hello Woolf and Joyce), so I expect this book to require a little more concentration. Let’s hope I enjoy it more than Mrs. Dalloway, though.
Here are a few quick facts about The Sound and The Fury:
Here are your choices.
So the photo above displays the next five books (#24-28) I’ll be reading from the Time list. Today, you tell me which one to read first.
Here are the choices: