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Book #27: The Sound And The Fury

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.

I did read The Sound and The Fury. I really did. But when I say I “read” this book, it’s like saying someone has “visited” Los Angeles after having a two-hour layover at LAX.

Their feet did indeed stand inside the boundaries of Los Angeles. Maybe they saw a celebrity or two at the airport. They took a picture of a picture of the Hollywood sign and posted it on Facebook (“Hangin’ out in L.A!”). But did they really visit Los Angeles? Of course they didn’t.

So I could sit here and B.S. you guys all day long. I could pull up a guide on the internet and research the themes, the plot, the characters, Faulkner’s intent with his stream-of consciousness writing style. Sure, I could play it that way.

But, instead, I’m going to be honest with you: I have no idea what I just read.

And, yes, I did read the book. I read The Sound and The Fury in the sense that my eyes looked at individual words connected together to form sentences. These sentences connected together to make pages.

My eyes read all the words on all the pages (348) that comprise The Sound And The Fury. Ocassionally, my eyes would transmit messages to my brain about these words. That didn’t happen very often, but it did happen a time or two.

After about 20 pages, I realized this was going to be a tough read. Many of you warned me. But I guess, having mostly enjoyed my Infinite Jest reading experience, I thought I could handle Faulkner without too much trouble.

Was I ever wrong.

Books like this are not suited for this type of project. Even though I’m not on a time schedule and haven’t set a deadline for myself, I still want to move at a fairly decent speed.

I neither have the time nor the patience to grasp this book. I had a hard enough time using the supplemental guides and such with Infinite Jest.

You know, I’m just a guy who likes to read, not a college professor who has spent 20 years dissecting every word of every novel in a certain genre. I just read.

So, sure, I could sit down with The Sound and the Fury, take a couple of months, read a small amount per day, consult guidebooks and online resources. I could definitely do all of that. And seven or eight weeks from now I could give you guys a well-researched, quality review of one of the greatest books in the history of fiction.

But, honestly, I don’t want to do that. I’m ready to move on. I just want to get my “mileage in” on this one, take my running shoes off, plop down in an ice bath, and check this one off the list. So that’s what I did.

Of the first 27 novels I’ve read, the only other book that I would qualify as a list-checker is Mrs. Dalloway. It was an accomplishment just to turn the final page of that book. So, for me, if I have two “list-checker” books out of every 25, then I can handle that.

So you’ve got to be asking yourself—Is this entire review just one long rant, or is this guy going to at least dig into it a little bit?

Well, it’s pretty much just one long rant.

But here are a few specifics. The story revolves around the Compson family in fictional Yoknapatawpha County Mississippi.

The Compsons are an old-school, aristocratic Southern family. They have African-American servants whom they call “darkies.” They have a “name” to protect in the small town they live in.

The story is broken into four sections—all of which take place on different, individual days. The first section focuses on Benji Compson—the mentally-handicapped son who the family believes is a burden and a black eye to their status in the community.

In this section, Benji is the narrator, and Faulkner writes in short, choppy, sometimes incoherent sentences to represent Benji’s mental instability.

In section two, the narrator is Quentin, the most intelligent of the Compson bunch. He gets accepted to Harvard, but he’s emotionally disturbed and contemplating suicide.

He’s highly protective of his sister, Candace (“Caddy”), who is another black eye to the family because she got pregnant at 14.

This section was nearly unreadable to me. The excerpt from last week’s post came from this section. Perhaps if I had taken a week to read through these 50-60 pages, I would’ve understood them better. Perhaps. If you’re just dying to read more never-ending sentences, here’s another one:

The train swung around the curve, the engine puffing with short, heavy blasts, and they passed smoothly from sight that way, with that quality about them of shabby and timeless patience, of static serenity: that blending of childlike and ready incompetence and paradoxical reliability that tends and protects them it loves out of all reason and robs them steadily and evades responsibility and obligations by means too barefaced to be called subterfuge even and is taken in theft or evasion with only that frank and spontaneous admiration for the victor which a gentleman feels for anyone who beats him in a fair contest, and withal a fond and unflagging tolerance for white folks’ vagaries like that of a grandparent for unpredictable and troublesome children, which I had forgotten.

Jason narrates the third section. Despite his arrogance, Jason is his mother’s favorite son. She makes that clear. He treats the servants like crap and generally makes life hell for the rest of the family. He’s one of the more unlikeable characters of any of the books I’ve read.

The final section, thankfully, doesn’t have a narrator. Consequently, it’s actually readable. If only Faulkner could’ve written the rest of the book like this final section. To give you an idea of how “normal” this final section is, here’s a brief excerpt in which Jason Compson is out on the hunt for his “scandalous” niece:

The air brightened, the running shadow patches were now the obverse, and it seemed to him that the fact that the day was clearing was another cunning stroke on the part of the foe, the fresh battle toward which he was carrying ancient wounds. From time to time he passed churches, unpainted frame buildings with sheet iron steeples, surrounded by tethered teams and shabby motorcars, and it seemed to him that each of them was a picket-post where the rear guards of Circumstance peeped fleetingly back at him. “And damn You, too,” he said. “See if You can stop me,” thinking of himself, his file of soldiers with the manacled sheriff in the rear, dragging Omnipotence down from his throne, if necessary; of the embattled legions of both hell and heaven through which he tore his way and put his hands at last on his fleeing niece.

See how normal that is? It’s almost pleasant, and it goes to show just how excellent a writer Faulkner was. Now, obviously this is my opinion, but I think Faulkner’s work would have been much more approachable had he not been writing in the experimental era of the 1920s, with contemporaries like Woolf and Joyce. At least Hemingway and Fitzgerald didn’t mess around with the stream-of-consciousness nonsense.

Anyway, those four sections are a short, inadequate summary of The Sound and The Fury.

One point of interest: The book closes with an appendix, which clarifies a lot of notes about the characters and really helped the novel make more sense. Faulkner realized his story was opaque, and included this information to help the reader not feel like they were totally in the weeds.

Even so, I really didn’t like this book.

Other Stuff

The Opening Line: “Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.”

The Meaning: The title comes from Shakespeare’s Macbeth–act 5 during Macbeth’s soliloquy:

“Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

Highlights: Thankfully, the book wasn’t 500 pages, or I don’t know if I could’ve finished it. But, in all seriousness, I’ll take the word of the critics who love this book. I’m sure it’s good. I just don’t have the patience to figure it out.

Lowlights: Where to begin? After struggling with Faulkner and Woolf, I think I can now say I’m not a fan of stream of consciousness, at least the more dense, difficult style that these two authors use.

Memorable Line: “It’s a curious thing how, no matter what’s wrong with you, a man’ll tell you to have your teeth examined and a woman’ll tell you to get married.”

Final Thoughts: You all can tell what I think about this book. This is one of my longest reviews, so I don’t have much else to say. Let’s just say that I’m not looking forward to Light in August, Faulkner’s other book on the list.

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188 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hope you’re not too perplexed if I say that was the best review I’ve read yet on all your posts. Raw honesty and a marathon metaphor – fabulous. I don’t think I’m now planning to read the Sound & the Fury. Great title though and I’m glad it’s another I now know is indebted to Shax.

    Like

    October 4, 2011
    • Thanks. I would hardly consider this a “review” though. Probably more of a rant?

      Like

      October 4, 2011
  2. Brilliant comparison to marathon training. Your reviews are always good, but I think this one might be your best. Congrats on breaking the tape.

    Like

    October 4, 2011
    • Thanks Greg. By about page 100, the marathon thing jumped out at me.

      Like

      October 4, 2011
  3. I’ve never understood why authors, who clearly have something that they want to say, make it so darn hard for those of us who are mere mortals to understand it. Like you said, we’re not literature professors who have spent the last few decades dissecting every word of Faulkner; we’re mostly just people who would like to enjoy a story, and get out of it what morals and values there are to get out of it. Understanding Faulkner (at least for me) is like trying to eat a hamburger through a straw. It can probably be done if you want it badly enough and try hard enough, but who really wants to put in that much effort?

    Like

    October 4, 2011
    • Wow. That’s insulting. That, indeed, is what’s wrong with the world these days. Immediate gratification. (holds my tongue.) Needless to say, one doesn’t usually understand a great piece of literature (or art, etc.) through the first read. It’s not quite like watching a movie. And I’m not going to rant on this guys blog.

      Like

      October 19, 2011
      • A justifiable rant, uninspired art. Immediate gratification has been pervading our society. I believe it’s a significant part of why so few people read nowadays. It is easier and quicker to just sit and passively watch movies/TV.

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        November 14, 2011
      • Insulting to whom? Are you Faulkner himself? Then don’t act affronted because someone doesn’t share your interests. Just because someone doesn’t like Faulkner doesn’t mean they only like movies and never read books. It’s not that everyone only wants instant gratification – it’s that not everyone would rather spend years dissecting works of literature than doing other things like spending time with family, learning new skills, or even reading books that give you real insight without you having to rummage around for them like needles in haystacks. Some people like rummaging; some people don’t. Neither of these people is ‘what’s wrong with the world’. What’s wrong with the world is rape and murder and people thinking they’re superior to the rest of the world. But thanks for holding your tongue, that was really appreciated.

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        November 14, 2011
      • Well said Megan! I agree.

        I wouldn’t necessarily say that books like The Sound and The Fury are insulting, but I do think they take an unnecessary amount of time to figure out, time that most of us could use better with other things. Keep in mind, this is coming from a book blogger that reads A LOT.

        I don’t agree that you can just chalk not liking Faulkner up to the need for “instant gratification.” I think it’s quite a leap, and a pretentious one at that, to say someone that doesn’t enjoy Faulkner dislikes because of they want to be instantly gratified.

        Like

        November 15, 2011
  4. I’d just make the same point that I argued in my comment to your stream of consciousness post. If an author has to include an appendix to explain what he was talking about during the book, to me that qualifies as nothing but bad writing. I read a wide variety of books and have no problem tackling the ‘classics’ (along with other classic books, I’ve read about 12 or 13 books on your list) but after reading your review I see absolutely no reason to ever even consider reading this book.

    Like

    October 4, 2011
    • zach #

      You shouldn’t let this review keep you from trying Faulkner…the reviewer seems to be plowing through a list for no other reason than simply completing it.

      Like

      December 19, 2013
      • I see nothing wrong with going through a list for no other reason than saying you did. There are a lot of things that people do just so they can say they did them. (For example, I was in 7th grade when the movie Titanic came out, but because everyone was seeing it, I watched the movie so I could say that I did, and let me tell you, as a 13 or so year old boy, that was exactly the type of movie that I was interested in.)

        Regardless of the reason that Robert read the book, he did read it. And when it comes to his review of the book, it’s entirely his opinion. Even if you don’t agree with his opinion, he does a good job in this post explaining not only his thoughts about the book but why he thinks that way about the book. Taking what he said about the book into consideration – along with the excerpts he posted from the book – I’m simply not interested in reading it.

        Like

        December 19, 2013
  5. Congratulations (and condolences?) for finishing, Robert! You now have your own definition of “slog”–not just a marathon but a marathon on a cold, windy, rainy day. Ugh.

    Sound is one of those works, like T. S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land that give Literature (pronounced “litera-CHORE” with a fake British accent while holding a bone China teacup with pinkie finger raised) a bad name. Eliot, too, had to write an explanation of his poem, it was so obscure. (I know you like The Waste Land so we’ll have to agree to disagree here, but expecting a reader to pick out a line or a few words from a piece so obscure no one except Eliot and the original author have ever heard of it? Give me a break! Eliot does that.)

    As a reader, I hate it–HATE IT–when an author writes a piece that says, “Nyah nyah nyah, I’m smarter than you are.” In that, we’re in violent agreement!

    Like

    October 4, 2011
    • I agree. I’ve found this to be the case with pretty much anything I’ve ever read by James Joyce. Can’t stand him.

      Like

      October 4, 2011
    • Not really a fan of The Wasteland. I’m with you…pretentious authors drive me insane.

      Like

      October 5, 2011
      • Fr. John+ #

        But again, Who defines pretension?

        Like

        October 9, 2011
    • zach #

      He wrote the appendix something like fifteen years after the main text…I read the book without referring to it, no problem. This book is simple compared to Absalom, Absalom! It isn’t necessary, at all…

      Like

      December 19, 2013
  6. Hey, great job getting persisting and getting through it!

    Even without the in-depth study, now you’re able to speak critically about the book, even if only to say that it requires more than a casual read through.

    Like

    October 4, 2011
  7. Perfect timing – I’m slugging through a book I’ve wanted to read for ages. It had such a great title that I thought it would be great, and I’m sure it is for some people. I know bits of what happened, but mostly it’s just senses and ideas. I’ll be grateful to check off the book from my list, but I’m a bit sad it’s been a slog. (Sort of like Tolkien’s Two Towers – it was necessary, but painful.)

    It doesn’t sound like you took in enough to decide if you truly liked the story, but I’ve found I’ve struggled through a book and then re-read it at a later date (at least a year later) and I’ve read it pretty much once a year since then. I doubt this qualifies, but you might find one like that on the list (Mrs. Dalloway was better the second time I read it.)

    Like

    October 4, 2011
  8. I really like your mileage-idea. In fact, mileage is a word I often use to describe how my literary tastes develop. Some books you only come to enjoy because you’ve ploughed your way through things that are basically too complicated for you. I’m currently trying to get some mileage in poetry, which I know practically nothing about, despite being an English major. I find that, while I at first only liked poems whose meaning was immediately obvious, I’m now beginning to develop a taste for more mysterious specimens. I suppose that the simple ones are not enough of a challenge anymore. Come to think of it, maybe I should write up a blog post of my own about this mileage thing.

    Anyway, if it’s any comfort, Light in August is a far easier read. Plus, it has a very nice, unexpected twist.

    Like

    October 4, 2011
    • I think I’ve had enough mileage of Faulkner for now…but I will revisit him with Light In August. Good to hear it’s an easier read.

      Like

      October 5, 2011
  9. So…after all the noise (sound) you’ve been making about this book over the last couple weeks, you release a review that’s little more than a rant (fury)?

    Genius!

    Like

    October 4, 2011
  10. Teresa #

    You’ve inspired me to have another go at the books I have had trouble with. Maybe I’ll even pick up Blood Merridians.

    I found a book in a used book store called The Best of Bad Faulkner which contains 2-3 page entries to the Bad Faulkner contest. Many contain 2-page paragraphs that are just as funny as they are incomprehensible. My favorite title is The Round and the Fury. WRT Light in August – take heart as I recall it is quite readable. In any event it is not like this book.

    Like

    October 4, 2011
  11. I think some books really are just for the enjoyment of literature professors and people with 5 months to spare. You’ve really hit on the difference between reading for comprehension and engagement and reading to ensure that your eyes have passed over the words. I congratulate you (not that you’re asking) for owning it. We shouldn’t pretend every word gets ingested! And it’s fun to read a good rant every now and again!

    Like

    October 4, 2011
    • Thanks! It’s true though that all reading certainly isn’t for entertainment or even comprehension.

      Like

      October 5, 2011
  12. Can’t say I’m really looking forward to this one either. Luckily I’m working through them alphabetically, so I’ve still got a little while before it rears its ugly head at me. Oh, by the way: An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser? List-checker to be sure. Not so much for stream of consciousness but for boredom-inducement and endless histrionics. Consider yourself warned. Also, The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing could be a tough one for you as well, I sure as hell had some problems with it.

    Like

    October 4, 2011
    • Awesome news about those books. CAN’T WAIT.

      Like

      October 5, 2011
      • You should read Brideshead Revisited as a palate cleanser, that book was great.

        Like

        October 5, 2011
  13. Love what you are trying to do here….you’re in the company of literary greats! Guess some writers need a lot of background research….we’ll have to ingest some criticism lit about Faulkner and then get into it……

    Like

    October 5, 2011
  14. Steve & Julie Carter #

    We enjoyed your wit and can appreciate your pain in the reading of Faulkner and the vicarious experience of your marathon training. We can assure you we will do neither. Thank you for work and aspirations. Persevere! MJ & PS

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  15. Kai #

    Interesting post..you’re a good writer
    http://embraceyoumag.com

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  16. Rachel #

    Oh man….I read Sound and the Fury my junior year of highschool and my head just about exploded. It was one of those books that I felt good for having read, but depended entirely on my teacher to help translate it for me. I’ve entertained the thought of revisiting the book, but i found my old highschool copy, took one look at all the notes and highlighted passages and put it right back on the shelf. Somone suggested Brideshead Revisited, if you like Evelyn Waugh you should also try Vile Bodies, it’s a little hard to follow at times but it’s actually really funny.

    Congrats on fp!!

    Like

    October 7, 2011
    • Thanks! Brideshead Revisited is on the list. I’ll probably get to it soon.

      Like

      October 7, 2011
      • Carmon Thomas #

        I always thought the length of Faulkner’s prose was a window into the minds of his characters – their thoughts and how they turned and tumbled things around until you’d think they could solve their problems, but they don’t and can’t. So, in a way the time it takes to read the story is part *of* the story.

        Oh yes, and there is that shared misery aspect. Now we’ve all read a dreadful assignment and we’ve done it…let’s get on with something fun now shall we?

        Like

        October 8, 2011
  17. I will NEVER forget this title 🙂 Great post!!

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  18. You know, that book is a tough one. I had to read it back in high school and it really helped having someone (the teacher and/or Sparknotes) telling me what the heck was going on. I reread it recently, though, as part of a reading project I’m doing with my sister, and it was a whole lot better. Sooo maybe next time you’ll like it? If you can even attempt it ever again?

    Happy reading! Hope the next goes better for you.

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  19. TOTALLY. The Sound and the Fury is an extremely challenging read, but truly one of the great accomplishments in the history of literature. Faulkner remains one of the greatest American tacticians of all-time. This book is very high on the Literary Man’s list of must reads: http://theliteraryman.com/must-reads/

    Like

    October 7, 2011
    • Maybe I’ll get the courage to try again one day. I just wasn’t feeling it this time.

      Like

      October 7, 2011
  20. Oh dear, you have no idea how good it makes me feel to read someone else’s words that EXACTLY express how I feel about Faulkner! Except my book was/is Absalom! Absalom! and out of sheer gluttony for punishment that book still resides on my book shelf even though I’ve attempted no less than like, 39283742 times to read it and can’t. I just can’t. So thank you, I appreciate that.

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  21. Light in August is readable! Have courage! Have hope! I actually read it as a matter of boredom and while it wasn’t my favorite book, there was some good stuff about it, and it was readable without overthought. Great post!

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  22. very good review, well written and thought out. Thank you.

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  23. Haven’t read it, but I do remember reading Light in August. Never really got into Faulkner. His sentences are too long…. I appreciate clear, concise prose more and more these days 🙂

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  24. “But when I say I “read” this book, it’s like saying someone has “visited” Los Angeles after having a two-hour layover at LAX.”

    Haha, that’s an amazing description!

    Like

    October 7, 2011
    • Thanks! That’s the only way I can describe it. I technically read it, but I didn’t really “read” it in the true sense of the word.

      Like

      October 7, 2011
    • Myra's voice. #

      I agree! haha! Well, Robert, at least you gave it a go, and I look forward to the remainder of your literary journey!.

      Like

      October 8, 2011
  25. Rae #

    Recently I decided to go back and read every book I’d ever written a book report about without having read it. Things were going along well, until I got to the House of the Seven Gables. So boring I couldn’t stay awake, and I like a long read. I finished, by rewarding myself with frozen yogurt at the end. I intend to forget it as soon as I can.

    I read The Sound and the Fury in high school & enjoyed it thoroughly. I liked Faulkner’s stream of consciousness — a bit like tripping, I guess. An experience, not a story. All feeling, no meaning. (Of course there is meaning, but it didn’t feel like that at the time.) It produced the kind of disorientation you feel when you return home after visiting another country or backpacking for 4 weeks.

    There’s also that feeling you have when you struggle through the first part of a book trying to figure it out, and then suddenly you’re not reading it, you’re in it. Love that feeling. The longer I struggle, the more pleasurable the transition.

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  26. I need to find that kind of willpower for some kind of cardio. Running, or walking, or anything that’s not sitting in front of a computer for 12 hours a day.

    Good for you for doing it.

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  27. I’m reading this book now for my “American Literature between the 2 wars” graduate class, and it’s been super difficult! I can tell that it’s good, I can see why it’s one of the great American novels, but I really don’t enjoy reading it! I still have the last two parts to read for next week, and I’m seriously not looking forward to it, especially cause Jason is such a despised character! So I’m glad to see that someone else shares my suffering 🙂

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  28. Huh. I loved the “Sound and the Fury”. Being inside the heads of the incestuous, unstable, incapable, and unloved made the book “work” for me. But I hated “Mrs. Dalloway.” Passionately.

    Good luck with your marathon. I humbly suggest not taking on Joyce’s “Ulysses.” : )

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  29. Love your review! Glad to know that there is someone else who just doesn’t want to waste time doing research into complicated literature in order to understand it.

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  30. Nothing can make the old books palatable to a younger generation so just remember that Faulkner, et al, didn’t have television and endless social media. They used the language to paint the picture, shoot the scene, send the message… could you summarize S & S in 140 characters?

    Read on.

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  31. I’m reading Absalom, Absalom! right now for a class. It’s troublesome, and I have to sit down and journal at the same time to help understand what I’m reading, but I find it rewarding when I can understand a significantly challenging passage. That said, it is certainly not easy, and I have a feeling it will only get tougher!

    Like

    October 7, 2011
    • I took a Faulkner course in college and studied with a top Southern Literature scholar who said this when we had finished ‘Absalom, Absalom!’: “Well, you have to read the thing about a dozen times for it to start making sense!” Best of luck, and don’t give up – if you can get into Faulkner, you’ll find he’s worth the work.

      Like

      October 8, 2011
  32. I found your rant one I believe Faulkner would have appreciated. You and he share length in common. No, it’s not an easy read. Whoever said great literature was easy. Perhaps you are right, however. This kind of literature is the stuff of Nobel prizes, not short reads. Read on and the best of luck to you.

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  33. I think Light in August is almost “normal,” so you won’t have the same challenges as you did with The Sound and the Fury. If you really want to get a headache try As I Lay Dying or Absalom, Absalom. As least in As I Lay Dying the chapters are titled after the character whose head you are supposed to be in, but sometimes Faulkner forgot.

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  34. Nice. I’m reading his “The Sun Also Rises.” I’ll post about it wednesdayish.

    BTW, you should do the Harvard Classics with me when you’re through with #101.

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  35. I’m not fond of stream-of-consciousness writing either, and I share your loathing of Mrs. Dalloway. I do, however, like Faulkner.The Sound & The Fury was a toughy, I’ll admit. One thing that I try to remember when reading books written earlier than the 1950’s, is that books then served people as TV and the Internet do today. Books and making music (piano, violin, etc) were the after dinner and before bed entertainments of the day. People were not in such a rush to get to the point as they are now. The whole style of “good writing” has changed tremendously. It’s no wonder many of us lose patience with some of the classics.

    Hope your next read is a lot more gratifying!

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  36. As a somewhat rebellious lit teacher, I always wondered who decides what “good Literature” is in the first place. Yes, he put words together nicely, but does that, in itself, make a novel worth reading? There are so many truly excellent novels … lists or no lists, he doesn’t make my top 100! Just sayin … I enjoyed reading your review!

    Like

    October 7, 2011
    • Jim Hagen #

      Who does make your top 100? Dan Brown?

      Like

      October 7, 2011
  37. A Faulkner novel in itself is a marathon. I enjoy his works (probably helps that my mind operates in a stream of consciousness fashion), and The Sound and the Fury is on my list of books to read. I haven’t gotten around it is because I have to be in the right mental state. Absalom, Absalom! is one of my favorite novels, but it took a couple reads before I had a clue as to what was going on in some of the scenes.

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  38. Read it in college. Had no idea the narrator in the first section was retarded until my prof explained it to me…then I felt like the retard.

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  39. jjhausman #

    Couldn’t get through Sound and the Fury myself. Currently doing Joyce’s Ulysses and having a tough time of it. These days writing has to be more straightforward in my opinion. We’re all conditioned to be hyperactive with our time. Glad you got enough out of it for an intelligent post. villagebandwidth.com

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  40. kmesa #

    I am new to the blogging world and am so glad to have stumbled upon your blog! I appreciate the honesty in your review – too many times avid readers tend to want to validate their time spent reading with false optimism about the books they have read. I’ve never been a fan of Faulkner, and this review confirms my reasons. My profession requires that I spend much time reading the classics, and so I can’t imagine doing it for fun or as a challenge in my spare time. I will however continue to follow your journey through the list with great interest.

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  41. Do yourself a favor and do NOT give Faulkner a second chance. I did and after that reading I dismissed Faulkner from my life. BTW, I’m an English major with 2 master’s degrees. I had a colleague tell me I couldn’t dismiss Faulkner like that, but I told him, “Oh yes, I could.”

    Light in August is even worse. I don’t care if it’s on your list–save your time.

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  42. nice review. i should read those books

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  43. D.Marie #

    Brilliant rant…i would say it epitomizes one of the notable elements of modern fiction: reader participation. Maybe it wasn’t a positive reaction, but it was a strong reaction. It’s a dense read, there’s no doubt about it. But, sometimes, it’s not about figuring out what every punctuation mark, word, and sentence mean, per se. This is art imitating life. If you spent every minute analyzing, you’d miss out on the experience. So Faulkner, as with many modern writers, wrap you in confusion, frustration, and a few precious moments of clarity in many ways mimicking exactly what the characters are experiencing.

    Kuddos to you for giving it a chance, and no worries. Light in August’s style is far more traditional, more plot driven. I think you’ll find it surprisingly un-Faulkner like.

    Like

    October 7, 2011
  44. Great post! I mentioned this in a comment to someone else, but I took a Faulkner class in college. He is extremely difficult to get into, but once you do he’s worth the effort. There’s a great book called ‘William Faulkner: First Encounters’ by Cleanth Brooks. I know you said you didn’t want to spend a lot of time researching and stuff, and trust me, I get that. If you ever decide to revisit this book in the future, the Brooks book is a fantastic general introduction to Faulkner’s major novels – he’s got a chapter devoted to each, so you don’t have to read the entire book all the way through. If I hadn’t read the chapter on ‘The Sound and the Fury’ before reading the novel, I would have had no clue what was going on.

    As someone said earlier, ‘Light in August’ should be much easier. I don’t even think Faulkner was ever completely happy with how the first section of S&F turned out. 🙂

    Awesome blog, I’m following you!

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  45. amazing entry. congrats! 🙂

    http://travellersdiningdepot.wordpress.com/

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  46. Enjoyed your post. Impressed by your fortitude to press on and your candor.

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  47. great post, thank you share

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  48. Ooh! Terrible, but I can totally relate to your metaphor regarding running and reading. I am a runner too, and yes, it does seem like reading some books is like just slogging through a run.

    Not all books are worth the marathon though, and I am sorry this book worked so badly for you. I think my personal Waterloo was Mason and Dixon by Pynchon. It just went on endlessly while I slogged through hoping something would happen.

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  49. Excellent post. Not sure I agree with everything you say, though I have a lot of problems with Woolf and Faulkner as well and when I read this book in college and reread it in grad school I felt like it was a task rather than any kind of fun. I actually had that conversation last night with my mother-in-law: there are books people study and books people read. Definite difference, but both are important. Best review of TSATF is from a prof I had in grad school during a discussion who, in the middle of a discussion, snapped the cover closed and said “F this F-ing book. You read it and you don’t get it and you re-read it and you don’t get it. I’ve read this book four times and I still don’t understand a GD thing.”

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  50. Excellent review\rant. I’ve been training for a marathon as well, so I can really grasp the metaphor. Your feelings on The Sound and the Fury remind me of my attempt to read The Wealth of Nations. I know these works are supposed to be important, but man are they a chore to get through!

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  51. Stream-of-consciousness is only interesting when it’s your own stream-of-consciousness! And even then, it’s not interesting to read the next week! Give me the old stand-bys of character, plot, conflict, motivation, goal. But I love the memorable line. Guess that’s the point of stream-of-consciousness…to pull out those nuggets.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  52. I Just give up on books I don;t like. I have have Dan Browns last book since it came out but have managed the first 2 chapters.

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  53. hellobloggy #

    I give you props for even getting through the book…I tried reading the first page when I was in college and was just so turned off I vowed never to pick it up again. 🙂 This was after my Classical Lit class was assigned to read Two Moons In August, which I enjoyed. I thought, hey I like this guy’s writing…let me check out another! And then I picked up The Sound and the Fury and changed my mind.

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  54. hellobloggy #

    Sorry, LIGHT In August…I was thinking of another book by another author. 🙂

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  55. Instead of A Light In August, you should consider either Go Down, Moses (a short story cycle) or As I Lay Dying. Those two books are easier to grasp

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  56. shadow8pro #

    If you’re just going through the motions, then what’s the point?

    Like

    October 8, 2011
    • Because it’s on the Time list. Did you see the header of the blog?

      Like

      October 9, 2011
  57. I wonder if, when the writing is done so well it is misunderstood, the fault lies with the writer or the reader. It’s an interesting question in which the answer may change with the generations. I don’t mean to suggest you misunderstood The Sound and the Fury, in fact it’s obvious you didn’t, I only mean to pose the question of whether it is better to write for one’s own generation, or for the next – or as Fitzgerald said, “An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the school-masters of ever afterward.”

    Nice post. I’ll follow your journey.

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  58. Jay #

    I am currently an English student & tutor, and would not recommend reading this book without having read, first, As I Lay Dying by Faulkner. He uses the stream-of-consciousness writing style there, as he does in his other books, but it’s a little less robust than its use in The Sound and the Fury. I actually haven’t even read The Sound and the Fury because I’ve been working my way up to it, and even the “easier” As I Lay Dying (I’ve also finished The Unvanquished recently), could take a whole semester to dissect. Props to you for even make it through to the other side.

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  59. Your writing here obviously struck a lot of nerves. Guess that poor boy from Mississippi did too. Sure, we can’t all understand or even like much of life, but, like a 5 mile a day running habit, you’d feel hellish if you didn’t do it. Good Job. Atta Boy!

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  60. I’m with you on the idea that books like this are for studying, not for reading on your own. Even doing the research on scholarly articles and stuff never really yields much in terms of satisfaction. I’m a French and Spanish student, and in my literature studies I’m always thwarted by this eternal paradox:

    If you don’t read the books before going to the lectures, the lectures make no sense and you fall behind; so by the time you come to read the book, you’ve forgotten the relevance of all your notes from the lectures.

    But if you try to read the books before going to the lectures, they are dry and incomprehensible: you’re just ‘getting the mileage in’ as you so brilliantly put it, and by the time you go to the lecture, you’ve forgotten the relevance of all your notes in the margins.

    I have found, though, that battling through the mundane-ness of the book before the lectures does mean that the lectures become these enlightening, fascinating things that make everything click inside your head, and transform the book into something crazily complex and admirable. For example, ‘Les Fleurs du Mal’ were a real chore to get through until my first lecture, after which point I flew through them and truly enjoyed doing the background reading and research.

    Yes, my comments are always this long. Basically I just wanted to throw in my two cents. In a nutshell, I agree that reading a book like this (while I’ve never read a word of Faulkner) can be a struggle on your own, and that the only way to get anything out of it is by taking a class. And really, after university is done and dusted, who wants to do that?

    Like

    October 8, 2011
    • Megan,

      An interesting point about whether to read the novel pre or post lecture (something I often struggle with as well). If it’s short enough, or a quick enough read, I will do both in an attempt to take in as much as possible. However, I don’t agree that the only people who want to analyze and dissect texts are in university and the only ones who can adequately dissect texts are in accordance with a class. Many people read authors such as Faulkner (and the necessary scholarly articles to go hand in hand with the novel) on their own free time and for their own knowledge or fun. The first time I read Ulysses was outside of a class, and I almost felt I got more from it then, without the critical essays and such weighing me down. Just a thought…

      Beverly Penn

      Like

      November 15, 2011
      • Oh sure, I mean, my feeling of needing someone to explain it to me face to face isn’t the only perspective. It’s just one I figured I shared with the author after reading his post. I’m not saying that after uni you should just stop reading, obviously; however, if you’re looking at it with the hopes of truly understanding the whole work, you’re talking about a heck of a lot of study on your own. Of course that’s rewarding, but it’s not necessarily a priority for most people – even those who could be considered ‘well-read’.

        Like

        November 15, 2011
  61. Great book review! Thank you!

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  62. I loved this post! I read The Sound and the Fury for a college class, and I had to read the book four times before I understood what was going on. Then when the professor explained it all, it was like a puzzle had just been put together.

    But I do agree. If you don’t have the time or inclination, then don’t worry about trying to dissect every sentence. 🙂

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  63. Much as I admire the intelligence and technical ability that went into The Sound and the Fury, it was all at the expense of readability. And if you don’t have that, the rest doesn’t matter. While I think the best books do have deeper meanings and reward multiple readings, I don’t think you should have to force yourself to read something, and this book is a chore.

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  64. Judging by the excerpt, I would say Faulkner is alone in his conscience stream, which is what he likes. He couldn’t have had an editor, could he? Thanks for vetting this one out of my way. Great review.

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  65. I have to agree with you about stream of consciousness in writing, it becomes completely unintelligible. “The Sound and the Fury” is one of two books that I actually loathe. I enjoyed the honesty of your review.

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  66. awesomeyear #

    This post just pretty much made my day.

    Like

    October 8, 2011
  67. Not my favourite book ever either. I wouldn’t have read it if I didn’t have to for uni. But I did get through it thanks to looking a couple of things up after I hit that 10th brick wall. It’s not cheating, it’s looking for inspiration/support/asking for help when you need it! In the end I appreciated the book and was impressed by Faulkner’s accomplishment. But it won’t ever grace my books shelves and I’ve never recommend it. Not sure I understand why it’s a Top 101 classic if it’s so unappealing. Now there’s another discussion!

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  68. i’ll read it,thanks

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  69. I’m also tearing through books right now, and this was a really helpful read. I know that some books are considered ‘classics’ and that every American SHOULD read them, but sometimes I wonder if the list shouldn’t be updated. I don’t have a degree in English or Lit either, I just like to read.

    I had to force myself through ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’, it seems that we went through a similar issue. I nearly put down ‘the Grapes of Wrath’, also, but have decided to soldier on. I’m glad someone is doing this with me!

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  70. I always pass this book whenever i go to a bookstore i might consider reading this because of your review! :DD

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  71. I’m currently reading The Warden by Anthony Trollope and that airport thing you described if affecting me since I’m skipping over descriptions and paying more attention to dialogue since I can’t feel for the characters.

    I’ve always wanted to read The Sound and the Fury but I haven’t yet but if it’s like James Joyce, I’m sure to hate him – couldn’t stomach Ulysses. I definitely enjoyed The Odyssey by Homer better than that book.

    I’m kind of OK with long sentences though. I can’t stand it when they use dialect or drop the H in written prose.

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  72. I just stumbled over this site, and I’m loving it. Reminds me of a grander version of Matt Cutts’ suggestion on TED to try something new for 30 days. (http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_cutts_try_something_new_for_30_days.html)

    Beautiful. I will try to look into every book review you’ve made. Thanks for your inspiration!

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  73. At last, an honest review of a book we’re TOLD to be impressed by. Thanks for the blunt assessment.

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  74. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the page layout of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

    Like

    October 9, 2011
    • Good advice. This is probably the longest post I’ve ever made. My reviews tend to be lengthy, but the rest of the posts every day are short (300-400 words).

      Like

      October 9, 2011
  75. jmahler #

    Both “Light in August” and “As I Lay Dying” are beautifully written novels and less stream-of-consciousness style. “As I Lay Dying” in particular is a sparse masterpiece touching on themes of family and tradition. Great reads…

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  76. Glad you were freshly pressed, love the concept of your ‘marathon’ of 101 books. Look forward to reading more posts. I do hope you find “As I Lay Dying” some day as jmahler recommends above. Appreciate your honesty on stream of consciousness.

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  77. Interesting rant. Glad you mentioned Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’, an infinitely better read. In fact, a couple of books on the 101 list allude to Shakespeare.

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  78. Thanks for saving us the trouble. Let’s all tick it off our list! 🙂

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  79. Sagarika #

    Many congratulations on being Freshly Pressed 😀 Though I must say you more that deserve it and I won’t be surprised to find all the posts that you write are Freshly Pressed. I mean every word of it. You have a superb (awesome!) sense of humour and I simply cannot wait to read your next volume of ‘Your search questions answered’, I mean how funny is that?

    I hope you know that how much your writing is appreciated in the bloggers’ community, you probably already know this because of all the comments, the amount of traffic you get and by the number of times you get Freshly Pressed.

    Always a pleasure reading your blog,
    Sagarika

    Like

    October 9, 2011
    • Thanks for your kind words, Sagarika! Glad you’ve enjoyed the blog and thanks so much for visiting every day.

      Like

      October 9, 2011
  80. Thank you for this! I recently told a friend I would read The Sound and the Fury with her, just twenty pages a day until we finished. It seemed completely doable, even exciting — since graduating college, I’ve been feeling a bit of withdrawal from literary classics — until, that is, I tried to trudge through the first twenty pages. “What beautiful language,” I thought, enjoying Faulker’s flow, until ten pages in, I realized I hadn’t grasped a bit of what those beautiful words were saying. And what is with the italics and lack of question marks? I thought about googling it, but I honestly wasn’t that interested. I felt ashamed to call myself an English major. I put the project on hold, starting reading The Art of Fielding, and haven’t quite gotten back to it. So, thank you for making me not feel so alone on this. Maybe I’ll try to dive back in another day… maybe.

    Anyway, I love this project, I admire you for your marathon, and I’m really glad I found this blog! Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    – Carin

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  81. I had to read most of Faulkner’s works years ago because I had to, it’s certainly a different animal than reading something because you want to. great post.

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  82. This is an awesome idea for a blog. When I was a kid my father told me he’d pay me $1 a book if I read the 100 greatest books (I don’t remember where the list came from). I never did, but I admire your effort.

    Mary

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  83. Brilliant review ❤

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  84. Excellent review of a book I have often wondered whether I should read but have not gotten around to yet. I can certainly relate; I felt much the same way after reading Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine”. The biggest impression that book made on me was that I had just wasted a few days of time reading it. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  85. love the parallels…marathons and book reading. thanks for sharing. a lovely read.

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  86. Tee #

    Kudos from an English teacher who appreciates ongoing literary discussion.

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  87. elizabethweaver #

    Good info & comments on one of my favorite books. Thanks.

    Like

    October 9, 2011
  88. Glad you made it through Faulkner, he’s one of the greatest and I love all his novels. You might try As I Lay Dying, a lot easier to read and very funny. Also, try Go Down Moses, definitely a guys’ book and lots of heroism/mach man in it. Good luck on your other reads. Stay away from Virginia Woolf if you think Faulkner is hard.

    Like

    October 10, 2011
  89. Wow. Your feelings and opinions towards this novel mirror mine from 15 years ago when as an English undergraduate, I was similarly forced to trudge through this supposed classic. Thank you for articulating your frustration and going the step further by actually forcing yourself through it for the purpose of your dedication to said training.
    It’s not that Faulkner is hard. It’s just not enjoyable.
    And at the time of reading I was big into the southern gothic novelists and therefore felt an anger towards myself for not getting into it, as if I had failed this sub-genre I had been so wooed by.
    So glad to find someone feels similarly.

    Like

    October 10, 2011
  90. I have thought a number of times about rereading this book hoping to like it better the second time around. Hmmm, judging from your response it might be best to leave it on the to do list. Stream of consciousness may not be my favorite style of writing.

    Like

    October 10, 2011
  91. sounds like one of those you gotta read twice to really understand … haahahahaahaha

    Liked by 1 person

    October 10, 2011
  92. Just found your blog on Freshly Pressed here at WordPress. Bravo for your stick-to-it-ness with Faulkner. If it’s any consolation, I really enjoyed A Light in August. It may be easier to stomach after breaking yourself in with Fury. My senior year as an English Lit major, I took a Faulkner survey from my favorite professor. I thought it would be fun. It was….to some extent. But by that time in my studies, I was ready to be finished. It was spring. I was graduating in a few months. And Faulkner, well, when his books aren’t simply bizarre, they are often mind-blowingly brutal. In fact, his book Sanctuary was so brutal (towards women in particular), that I refused to finish it or revise a crappy paper I wrote about it. My professor wanted to know why I wasn’t trying harder (since I had earned an A in his previous and, arguably, most difficult class my major had to take). I told him I didn’t want to. And he was proud of me. 😉

    Like

    October 10, 2011
  93. Luke #

    This book is a bit of a hard read, I agree. If I had to choose a Faulkner to read again, it would be ‘As I lay Dying’, a bit easier to digest for me. This book’s sentance structure reminds me of a Sam Beckett Novel,but with even more metaphores. I find books on the top 100 list that I just don’t get…thne I will pick up something obscure, and enjoy the hell out of it.

    Like

    October 10, 2011
  94. ohioadmin #

    I completely agree. I can’t get through Faulkner either. In college, SparkNotes saved my life when I was assigned to read two of his books! I could barely get through the quotes that you posted. (Although, the fact that it’s Monday morning probably has something to do with that, though.) Great review, though!
    -officeafternoon.wordpress.com

    Like

    October 10, 2011
  95. thoraaron #

    Great project, I can definitely relate to reading words and taking absolutely nothing in from them sometimes.

    not for tourists:
    http://www.cityarbiter.wordpress.com

    Like

    October 10, 2011
  96. Really glad that I got to read this book in one of my undergraduate classes/had my prof explain/discuss it with us, or else I would’ve been quite lost as well. Really a work that gets better with every read…so well written that it leaves readers in a sense of disbelief. But all the recognition/praise it receives is well-deserved.

    REVIEWS AND MORE @:
    http://gougedaway.wordpress.com

    Like

    October 10, 2011
  97. Paul Leroux #

    I read Marcel Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past” in the original French(actually seven novels forming part of one long saga — 2400 pages in my edition). It took me six months, but I can say I read it thoroughly, with very little skimming. It was worth every minute I invested in it. You can’t really do justice to a great work by “putting the mileage in”. P.S. I tried to read James Joyce’s “Ulysses”. I also am not a fan of stream-of-consciousness writing. PPS: My favourite work of all is John Galsworthy’s Forsyte Saga. I’ve read and reread it over and over for the past 40 years of my life.

    Like

    October 10, 2011
    • Proust’s “Remembrance” is one of my favorite ever works. How I wish I could read it in French. I’m sure it is so much more beautiful. Have you ever compared the French to the English translation?

      Like

      October 12, 2011
  98. rheaJ #

    Congratulations on getting freshly pressed. The review was very down to earth and honest.
    🙂
    Your project really motivated me on this dull Monday evening. I feel up for a book marathon now!

    Like

    October 10, 2011
  99. jpeay #

    So, Faulkner, took the persona of an idiot and wrote a book signifying nothing? Is that what he was allluding to with the Shakespeare connection? Why is this a masterpiece?

    Like

    October 10, 2011
  100. The idea for the blog is really great!

    Unfortunately, some of the classics can be really boring, yet it is somewhat not something one can admit without being thought of as a stupid or uneducated person.

    I will definitely be a frequent guest on your blog!

    Congratulations on being FP 😉

    Like

    October 10, 2011
  101. Faulkner is a literary a-hole. This is easily the most annoying book I’ve ever read. Then I got the Cliff Notes and reread it. I actually enjoyed if after I knew what heck was going on. Anyone who claims they got it after reading it once without struggle or previous knowledge of the plot is lying. Great review!

    Like

    October 10, 2011
  102. Oh dear, reminds of when I first started reading Shakespeare [but after a while i got the hang of shakespeare and it is quite beautiful]. By the way, this post is very amusing. Although it was a complete waste of time to read the book, hey! you can still post on wordpress that you read the book!

    Like

    October 10, 2011
  103. Maybe your reward for finishing was to be Freshly Pressed!. Anyhow, I too have slogged through books, feeling like I had to finish them, even though it was difficult to understand without a dictionary and note taking. I just stumbled onto your blog, which I plan to subscribe to because I am an avid reader, but have missed some of those notables and it would be great to see other’s perspectives. I have not checked your “list” so I do not know what you have already read, but I read in it’s entirety “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and that was a long read with plenty of Looooong, sentences throughout. Enjoy your current book!

    Like

    October 11, 2011
  104. Debbie Keating de Juan #

    I was surprised to find that I’ve read many books on the list but see that I have quite a few to go. Hang in there. This is such a great idea!

    Like

    October 12, 2011
  105. I have to say, this was a rather amusing review. I can certainly relate because I’m currently working through “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Finnegan’s Wake” simultaneously. Good luck and hang in there! “Light in August” is, in my opinion, far better than “The Sound and the Fury”

    Like

    October 12, 2011
  106. I enjoy Faulkner’s short stories more than his books. Like Joyce, when given the length of a book to play with-well boys will be boys. A Rose For Emily and The Dead were much better from those two.

    Like

    October 12, 2011
  107. Patti #

    I picked up The Sound and the Fury several months ago and never even made it through the first section – your review isn’t exactly encouraging me to go back and pick it up. 🙂
    I read Light in August years ago, and though I don’t remember a lot about it, I do remember I enjoyed it, so maybe there’s hope.

    I remember you commenting that a book I recommended a while back (for after this project) – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, told from the perspective of an autistic teen, might be similar to The Sound and the Fury – I think it’s safe to say the writing styles are not at all similar, so I think you’ll enjoy it when you get around to it.

    Like

    October 13, 2011
  108. I am sorry that you did not love that great novel. I first read it when I was in high school, but was blessed by having a copy that had been annotated by a college student who noted changes in time and past events. The best Faulkner book to start with is THE UNVANQUISHED. While it is not usually considered Faulkner’s best by most critics, it is the best way to get into his rich world of characters and place.

    Like

    November 11, 2011
  109. K. Wills Sterling #

    You’ll actually like “Light in August.” It’s a good story, and not really in the stream-of-consciousness style. Don’t feel bad about not liking this book; I loved “Light in August” and “As I Lay Dying” (also by Faulkner) but could not get through this book or “Absalom, Absalom,” which is considered another of his masterpieces. Faulkner was a great writer but he sometimes needed an editor. (Just my opinion.)

    Like

    November 12, 2011
  110. Robert, great project. Reviews like this have scared me away from this book for years. Rather than read it, I picked it up on CD (yeah, I know, not really reading). The first time through I was a confused by the shifting narratives and time. But the second time through it came alive for me. No one should have to read a book twice (or have it read to him, as in my case) in order to understand or like it. But it worked for me. Other thoughts on this book at: http://www.readthe100.com/surprise-i-like-faulkner/

    Like

    January 29, 2012
    • You’re certainy not alone with that. I’ve actually read several reviews that recommended at least rereading Benjy’s account after the book was finished.

      Like

      July 4, 2012
  111. Shem the Penman #

    I guess there are two different kinds of readers: those who resent difficulty in literature and those who expect certain experiences to require effort.

    And I’ve never read anything by Faulkner that wasn’t well worth the effort.

    Shem

    Like

    March 9, 2012
    • Shem, for hating all my opinions so much, you sure have been spending a lot of time on the blog lately. Be sure to get some comments in on the Judy Blume book and Neuromancer. Thanks for the extra traffic! Even in trolling, it’s appreciated.

      Like

      March 9, 2012
      • Shem the Penman #

        I was just pointing out what seems like an important distinction between a reader who approaches literature with an open mind and one who makes his own expectations the be-all and end-all of his reading experiences. At first glance, it might seem like your blog is set up as the record of an experiment in literary appreciation. But the more I read, the more I realize that you’re less interested in engagement with a literary canon than in pronouncing your all-important opinions on famous books.

        And you’re not alone in having the issues with “difficult” literature I mentioned in my first post on the Finnegans Wake thread. In this discussion alone, you’ve had your back slapped by people who have similarly failed to connect with the acknowledged genius of Faulkner and are desperate to stick it to the author, book snobs, literary critics, Mrs. Kaplan who made them read As I Lay Dying in eight-grade, as well as anyone with more patience and insight than they can muster up.

        There’s a pattern here, one where you take authors whose work is a little over your head and revile them for not writing the way you think they should. And then if anyone suggests that you should make more of an effort to appreciate the fine work of Joyce, Woolf, or Faulkner, you accuse them of being “trolls” and “fanatics.”

        Maybe there’s a good reason you have this inferiority complex. Can you guess what it is?

        Like

        March 10, 2012
      • You’re going by the name of a character from FinneGAN’S Wake and you’re not a fanatic? Right. Who’s your favorite Star Trek character? And, sure, your comment on Mrs. Dalloway wasn’t trolling. Not trolling at all.

        I tell you what. You go start a blog about all your literary idols that your college professor told you to like, and invite all your pals. I’m sure it will be a riot!

        Then I can write 600 word comments on your blog about how much I hate your opinion. That will be awesome and so productive.

        Like

        March 10, 2012
  112. Shem the Penman #

    Wow. You sure have issues.

    Shem

    Like

    March 10, 2012
    • Yeah, I should troll on popular blogs to work out all my “issues.”

      I’m ignoring you now. Good luck with your blog.

      Like

      March 10, 2012
      • Shem the Penman #

        You must be new because you’re taking me way too seriously.

        Shem

        Like

        March 10, 2012
  113. I hated this book too, but I like other Faulkner books. As to Light in August, I haven’t read it, but I hear it is one of his easier and more enjoyable ones. You might actually like it. Maybe I will read along on that one. It has been on my list for a while.

    Like

    April 23, 2012
  114. I just finished this book yesterday- and I can certainly see how it has gained its reputation as a difficult read (think I have even heard a few people say it is the first or second most difficult read in English). Despite being a little confused on some parts. I really liked the book. Personally, I think it helps to read this in a short time frame so that you can remember as much of Benjy’s and Quentin’s accounts by the time you get to the last two sections. I think I enjoy the setting that Faulkner spends most of his books writing about. To encourage you a little, Light in August is a much easier read than this (though maybe not as easy as As I Lay Dying).
    BTW, great idea for a hobby/blog.

    Like

    July 4, 2012
  115. I cant believe somebody here actually said that they resented Faulkner and other “pretentious” writers for not writing at their particular level of intelligence- that’s just absurd. I didn’t find it as difficult as this blogger, or you blogger ,if you’re reading, yet i can understand why some would. But still all this talk of pretentiousness is also absurd, because the fact is some people ARE more intelligent than others, and why should an intelligent writer have to dumb down their work just because some section of the public(the less intelligent, or for the sake of argument here, the more occupied and with less free time- which consequently must affect intelligence if you think about it) don’t get it. i know it goes without saying, but some people actually do resent it-that they cant understand complicated books. Trust me Hemingway wrote that sparsely only because that’s the only way could.. Hemingway could not pretend to be more intelligent than he was, his themes aren’t as complex as Faulkner’s ( yet he was intelligent enough to understand Faulkner’s work of course, because there is difference in the intelligence of transmitting information and the intelligence of receiving or being able to understand it) He was not a complicated mind. Faulkner on the other hand could write a beautifully simple and poetic third person omniscient like in the last chapter, and also get into the mind of a neurotic nut case like Quentin, not to mention Benjy(who in my opinion is autistic)- now that’s talent.

    i’m twenty, and i know saying that i’m twenty and that i understood and thoroughly enjoyed the sound and the fury will have me pegged as pretentious, and that is fucking sad. Do you think I’ve ever mentioned the books i’ve read to anyone my age ? how can i be pretentious if i keep it to myself?but i assure you if i ever let out that I’ve read infinite jest or Ulysses to anyone of less intelligence(anyone here in miami really) I’ve be pegged as pretentious in a second, and yet i can’t peg twilight readers ass completely retarded? not that there aren’t people trying to read infinite jest out of pure vanity, but trust me with that attitude they wont get past the first Carpenter(chapter)

    it really seems to me like you’re reading these books just to read em, like to get it over with.
    I mean if you’re just going to brush aside The sound an the fury like that- i get Mrs Dallaway- but come on, you cant do that to Faulkner, the greatest writer since Shakespeare(objective fact) seriously, i don’t get what you found so difficult or what it is that you didn’t understand that you thought you had to. i find it impossible that you truly had no idea what you just read. i just hope you give it another shot someday and let not just the beautiful prose which rhymes with rose( because complexity does not deter beauty) but the very syntax, every period , every comma seep way down into your soul, because it is in those diminutive details that Faulkner bared his. also i would suggest you try it stoned, not being funny or w/e, im not those guys that thinks everything better stoned( though ti is, i don’t think it though), but seriously it gives it another dimension. it also helps to be neurotic, at least with the Quentin section.

    Like

    December 17, 2012
    • Three quick thoughts:

      1) The fact that you suggest I read this book stoned kind of proves my point.
      2) Intelligent writers can write without being pretentious. I loved Infinite Jest. This book, though, yes it was pretentious.
      3) I suggest you read this post: https://101books.net/2012/06/08/how-to-know-if-youre-a-book-snob/

      Like

      December 17, 2012
      • oh dude i’m not a book snob, i’m just off my meds
        lets do it your way…

        1.He wrote it drunk so you might as well read it high, it kind of puts you on the Same page
        2.how is it pretentious exactly?
        3. kids are reading twilight instead of huckleberry Finn, my hatred is justified

        The thing is, like you said, most people have jobs or w/e, and don’t have the time to dissect these kinds of books or have these kinds of thoughts, because, who really needs to think of incest, or the effects a mother constant bitchin can have on the mind, or pedophilia( from your struggle with Lolita) most people want to avoid these ideas, but people like me,who unfortunately have a lot of time on their hands, come to regard these things as “interesting, ” in a way. By the way if you struggled though Faulkner Naked lunch is going to be a nightmare, both thematically and stylistically.

        see i have time for long thoughts, or rants if you like

        Like

        December 18, 2012
  116. lxs_ale #

    I am a student in a William Faulkner class right now and just finished my 2nd revision of a paper about The Sound and the Fury. I decided to treat myself by Googling “the sound and the fury rant” and this review came up. Thanks! I understand this book, but I’m pretty sure that makes me dislike these characters even more. Your review is great.
    Please don’t be scared about Light in August, though. I really liked that book and it is not stream-of-consciousness dense or anything like that. It’s a good book (really!)

    Like

    April 10, 2013
  117. I read both Mrs. Dalloway and Sound and the Fury and, although I love classic literature… man, do I ever relate to this post. My eyes passed over the words but, let’s just say I have it on my to-do list to read them over. That and to read Ulysses… maybe after retirement. (In 40 years).

    Like

    April 12, 2013
  118. Clint #

    I really enjoy this blog.

    The first time I tried to read The Sound and The Fury, I think I made it through about 6 pages. I had just finished reading all of Cormac McCarthy’s works and had read somewhere that McCarthy was influenced by Faulkner or liked Faulkner or something or another.

    About three years later I picked up The Sound and The Fury again and….how can I put this, I “experienced” the book…I guess you could say. Faulkner is now one of my favorite authors.

    Like

    December 14, 2013
  119. Just discovered this post on one of my favorite books of all time. I did have the opportunity to read S&F in grad school–three times in a couple of weeks, BTW—along with Absalom!Absalom! and I came to understand why these two books are so phenomenal.

    I’m wondering, now, if you’ve had time to read “Tinkers,” the novel that was “discovered” and won a Pulitzer in 2010. I think “Tinkers” is written in a very similar vein.

    Like

    January 7, 2014
  120. barcodelove #

    I think books like the The Sound And The Fury summon the faculties of taste.That is to say, it’s not good or bad if you don’t like them. Personally, I enjoyed The Sound. However, It did take some motivation to read it. We all read for different reasons. We all learn in different ways. I like to ‘rummage’.

    (I digress) I’m not bananas about Jane Austen (please, Jane Austen-ites, don’t hurt me. I’m just a wee girl. Okay, maybe not–but still, violence is bad.) We’re all different, and it makes the world lovely.

    Like

    January 16, 2014
  121. Robert…I enjoy your posts…I never could get into the western classics…except for, say, Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, which in its own way changed my life…and actually led to me writing my own version of Siddhartha — which incidentally took me just about twenty years to complete to my satisfaction. I relish your integrity as a reviewer — its almost as if a pal is sitting down opposite me with a strong cup of java and telling me how tough it was to get through — call me lazy, but i’ve always enjoyed writers who don’t need interpreters or middle-men. My vote is for a gripping story beautifully told.

    Like

    February 5, 2014
  122. I attempted it when I was a kid and, though I didn’t fully understand what I was reading, I was mesmerized by the language and the imagery.Although I was far too young to grasp what Faulkner was writing about, it had a devastating effect on me. This was post-Hardy Boys, understand, and I realized the full hurricane of the English language. I settled down and read “The Old Man and the Sea” after that.

    Like

    October 9, 2014
  123. I loved this book, I read it in about 3 days! You need to go with the confusion, not fight it…

    Like

    October 10, 2014
  124. You’re obviously a smart guy and you know what you want to read, however, I strongly suggest that you not give up on this book. I know you read it but you admitted that you that did not get much out of it. When your children are grown and things are quieter in your life, pull the book off the shelf and give it another go. It’s solid gold literature. A smart guy recently told me that you don’t get Faulkner, Faulkner gets you. I suggest to people to use the Norton Critical Edition for some insight. This book, As I Lay Dying (my personal favorite Faulkner book), Light in August and Absalom, Absalom are simply some of the best all-time American novels. All 4 should be on this list but I understand the list needs “variety.” PS: My roots are deep in eastern Tennessee.

    Like

    September 28, 2016

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