I m done My third and final attempt has failed miserably.No, not miserably Gladly actually So it s official I m now as thick as two short planks, an intellectual misfit, I Wouldn t know literary greatness if it shot me in the buttocks from close range Well, that s likely what Faulkner would be thinking anyway Fine But then I d most certainly whip his ass at a game of chess, and drink him under the table as long as it s my special cocktails as a way to get even.The only reason I returned to this novel, was I thought that Light in August was really good and was hoping for.Nope.I didn t get it, and couldn t be bothered to even try I got so frustrated I started Chain smoking This coming from someone who is dearly trying so hard to quit Thanks Bill.The only thing Faulkner did do for me was make me realise just how much I adore the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, now even They were true geniuses.What s the likelihood of me reading Faulkner again Only time will tell I guess But at the moment, there is chance of Theresa May and Jean Claude Juncker having an affair. 671 The Sound And The Fury, William FaulknerThe Sound and the Fury is a novel written by the American author William Faulkner It employs a number of narrative styles, including stream of consciousness Published in 1929, The Sound and the Fury was Faulkner s fourth novel, and was not immediately successful In 1931, however, when Faulkner s sixth novel, Sanctuary, was published a sensationalist story, which Faulkner later claimed was written only for money The Sound and the Fury also became commercially successful, and Faulkner began to receive critical attention.Characters The Compsons, Dilsey Gibson, Quentin Compson III, Jason Compson IV, Caroline Bascomb Compson, Candace Caddy Compson, Benjamin Benjy Compson, Miss Quentin Compson 1978 1353 422 1383 414 1387 9789643512304 1392 1394 534 9786001216398 1369 317 1376 9644480627 1381 430 1386 1388 1390 1392 9789644480621 1395 412 9786005205954 1395 658 9786004042512. The first time I attempted this book, I made my way through a mere three pages before deciding it would be a waste To date, it is the only book that I had the good sense to leave until later, as my usual response is to barrel through the pages come hell or high water Perhaps it was a good thing that I had just finished slogging my way through a monstrous tome that left my brain incapable of facing down the beginning of Benjy s prose I don t remember the title of whatever book left me in that state, but I do remember staring at the beginning pages of this one, my mind wandering in frozen disbelief over the contorted fragments that supposedly made up a story So I left it until later, four years later if I remember correctly, and I m glad that I did.The writing in this book is notoriously difficult Insert reference to quote from Macbeth, something something signifying nothing and all that jazz You ve heard it before, and I won t waste anyone s time reiterating it However, now that I ve finally reached the end, I can t say that I would change any part of it Had the entire book been written in the style of the last section, largely cohesive with rare flares of descriptive prose and sudden jumps in point of view and timeline, it would not have been nearly as powerful The story IS sound, the story IS fury, and you can t convey that without dipping the prose in that septic pool of chaotic madness If I hadn t battled my way through Benjy, if I hadn t pulled myself inch by inch through Quentin, I wouldn t have understood the horror of Jason, or the final tragedy of the conclusion To be frank, I wouldn t have cared.But I did care I did care because the haphazard mess of the beginning readied my mind for a reading that, instead of demanding a tenacious follower, asked for a bucket to fill with errant drops A drop of plot line here, a drop of context there, many drops that filled in the blanks of the neurotic frenzy that is the Compson family Nature versus nurture Nature planted a singular seed of madness in the blood, and nurture drove each along different paths You ll be gathering bits and pieces of this tangential story, wondering what it s all for, and then a single phrase will narrow the story to a focal point of singular rage and despair When that happens, you ll understand what all that seemingly headless running about was for All the disconnected hints and teases will culminate in an awful truth, and it isn t a feeling that any sort of linear timeline can convey.For, if you read an edition that contains the foreword appendix written by the author, you ll be given that linear timeline right at the beginning You ll know the hard, cold facts of this family long before the story begins You ll know their furthest ancestor, and you ll know their ignominious end, and you ll even get the major, notable events in between You won t care about Benjy s plight, or Quentin s, or Jason s, or the whole family s, this Southern strain of blood that ends in a lost oblivion of death, bitterness, and idiocy All you ll have is context, that collection of straightforward no nonsense tidbits that make perfect sense and ultimately mean nothing You can t expect them to, long before you have delved into the lives of these characters, the agonizing push and pull each one of them suffers in their respective place You can t expect them to if you still wish to put this story in its place with each character neatly categorized and every loose end resolved in a satisfying conclusion This story is one concerned with the long slow death of lineage, the inexorable tugging and tearing of ideologies and timelines on a collection of souls that have been slung together in a collusion of familial blood and social connections No one escapes the hell on earth that was apportioned to them, embodied in poisonous words that are fueled by a poisonous life conditioned by a poisonous world Not even the idiot, who does not know the context and yet feels the agony, much as we the reader feel our way through the chaotic text of this story with an underlying sense of grief and despair, one that cannot be contained in a single quote, paragraph, page, or section Not until it s much too late, and somewhere along the twisted path we lost our hearts to this tragic mess of a family that we knew was doomed from the start Somewhere amongst the sound and the fury that pain touched us, and the most we can do is join Benjy in the bellowing in response to that fearful anger We know it signifies nothing We know it does, much as anything with a beginning and an end will eventually be lost in the mists of time, and the world will roll on in ignorant bliss of its history We know that But it sure as hell doesn t feel that way. Reading some books is like clambering through a barbed wire fence at the bottom of a swamp with your oxygen tank about to run out and this is one of those When you re done with it you look round expecting someone to notice and rush up with the medal and citation you completely deserve for services to literature You finished it Yeahhh But no one does and if you try to explain to your family Hey wow I finished The Sound and the Fury, man was that difficult, wow, my brain is like permanently rearranged, that Faulkner, what a writer they just smile placatingly and open another tin of gunk for the cat. This is one of those books that makes a gigantic claim As if it s either genius or it s Emperor s New Clothes It won t settle for anything in between On every page I felt Faulkner was straining at the bit to prove to me he s a genius The title has always put me off reading this The Sound and the Fury It s melodramatic, humourless, a bit pompous It sounds like one of those American war films of the fifties starring John Wayne But what is it with southern writers that they only seem able to write books if they can believe they re geniuses Look Homeward Angel makes that claim too Except Look Homeward Angel is probably the most overwritten novel in the history of literature Wolfe maybe had some genius but he wasn t in control of it Faulkner unquestionably is different Faulkner has genius and is in control of it But Essentially to enjoy this you ve got to also enjoy codebreaking I don t I ve never even done a crossword puzzle in my life I doubt if I ll ever try Finnegan s Wake again after failing to make head or tail of it the first time Also, you ve probably got to be prepared to read it twice It s probably every English teacher s dream book a book that requires notes formulated by someone with a higher intelligence than your own It s not very flattering to realise your own intelligence isn t up to the job Should a novel require notes Shakespeare might be enhanced by notes but he doesn t need them I needed to refer to notes to understand what was going on in part one Okay, I ve got it now but did you really need to be so wilfully obtuse It s not like you re explaining particle physics This is essentially a family melodrama, not a treatise on the meaning of life If you strip away all the literary devices, that s what it is a family melodrama Sure it has a broader social reach but only bad novels don t have that It didn t for me have the wide cultural reach of Gatsby It felt parochial, claustrophobic But putting aside the decryption demands of the novel I also think it has some obvious flaws like the character of Jason His villainy was somewhat coarse He wouldn t even get in my top 100 best villains in literature I d like to read another Faulkner but one where he isn t trying quite so hard to prove he s a genius. William Faulkner s unforgettable 1929 novel of the rotting family in the rotting house It s a somber tale of the tragically dysfunctional Compson family, told with insight and remarkable talent, though it s definitely not readily accessible Mostly set in the year 1928, and in the US south in the days of segregation and prejudice the N word makes a frequent appearance , The Sound and the Fury has four sections plus an appendix Three of the sections are narrated by the three Compson brothers, Benjy, Quentin and Jason.I think the usual no spoilers rules doesn t work well with this book it s so difficult to put the pieces together than I think most readers like me need all the help they can get So I m going to lay the plot all out here If you re a hardcore non spoiler person, skip the next several paragraphs of this review, until you get down to the Macbeth quote.Benjy, the 33 year old brother who was born severely mentally handicapped, narrates the first section, though in actuality he can t speak He moans and wails and roars Benjy has no sense of time all is present to Benjy So his section very frequently skips from the present to flashbacks of different times in his life, giving us glimpses of the people in the Compson home, and their troubles Often the shift in time is marked by italics, but it s still pretty confusing I recommend using a detailed resource that helps you track what year it is in the narrative, like this Cliffnotes page Benjy is castrated by his cold hearted brother Jason when he s a teenager and got loose one day and chased some schoolgirls, though he was probably just trying to tell them how much he missed his beloved sister Caddy Candace All of the brothers lose their balls in one way or another in this story, Benjy literally and the others metaphorically To make matters confusing, Benjy is named Maury, after his shiftless, flashy uncle, until he s 5 years old There are also two Quentins Benjy s older brother who commits suicide in 1910 and Caddy s illegitimate daughter, born a few months later, who lives with the family Benjy s ramblings set the stage for the rest of the novel.The second section, narrated by Quentin the brother shifts back to June 1910, the last day of his life Quentin has just completed his first year at Harvard University, but is so distraught by his sister Caddy s promiscuity and marriage that he is planning to commit suicide at the end of the day Everything that happens in this section is colored by that intention Quentin also has a number of mental flashbacks in his section, which are easier to follow than Benjy s, but Quentin s depressed, neurotic mind made his narrative difficult to follow and unpleasant for me to read, until the last ten pages or so, which were weirdly fascinating, as you become and aware of how unhealthy Quentin s obsession with his sister and purity and honor is.For the third section, we leap forward to April 1928, a day in the life of Jason, the most venal and unpleasant of the brothers Jason is now effectively the head of the family He mistreats his 17 year old niece Quentin, who is rebellious and shamelessly promiscuous Jason has been stealing the money that Quentin s mother Caddy sends to Jason for Quentin, gambling it away on cotton futures Jason is all about control, and he justifies his thefts because back in 1910 Caddy s husband was going to give him a job in banking, which fell through when the husband divorced Caddy because she was pregnant with another man s child But Quentin ultimately proves not as easy to manipulate as Caddy It s ugly being inside of Jason s mind So it s a relief to come to the last section, told by an omniscient narrator, mostly from the point of view of an old family servant, Dilsey Dilsey tries to keep the family together and protect the others from Jason s rages and abuse, with mixed success The conflict between Miss Quentin and Jason comes to a head, as Quentin finally gets some of hers back and Jason ineffectually chases her At the beginning of this section, it reads The day dawned bleak and chill A moving wall of grey light out of the northeast which, instead of dissolving into moisture, seemed to disintegrate into minute and venomous particles It s an apt metaphor for the Compson family s disintegration.The title of this book comes from a Macbeth quote To morrow, and to morrow, and to morrow,Creeps in this petty pace from day to dayTo the last syllable of recorded time,And all our yesterdays have lighted foolsThe way to dusty death Out, out, brief candle Life s but a walking shadow, a poor playerThat struts and frets his hour upon the stageAnd then is heard no it is a taleTold by an idiot, full of sound and fury,Signifying nothing.Benjy s literally meaningless sound and fury is the most obvious reference here, but in a broader sense it s about the Compson family generally though their distressing tale actually has deep significance to us as readers Faulkner made me work so hard to put the puzzle pieces together, with stream of consciousness and non linear storytelling, that when I was able to understand the elusive parts of the story, it felt like a major achievement for me as well as him The most helpful online source I found while reading this book is this detailed essay It follows the plot of the book and helps clarify what s happening, and comments on some of the symbolism I found it incredibly helpful.This was a reread buddy read with Jen Our discussion is in the thread to this review There are some interesting comments, but beware of spoilers that may or may not be tagged.Initial comments I haven t read this since I was a college English major I vaguely remember writing a senior essay on it and getting an A on my grade, so I m sure that partly explains the affection I still have for this novel, even though I remember absolutely nothing about the plot except that there are four I think, maybe different narrators and one is mentally challenged.But I ve been on a Faulkner roll lately, starting with a couple of his short stories A Rose for Emily and Barn Burning and I checked this book out from the library yesterday. Schall und Wahn is not easy reading The plot is shattered by flashbacks, cuts, and inner monologues In each part the narrative perspective changes In spite of this experimental and innovative narrative, the author succeeds again and again in capturing the reader with the tragic force of history and language and to keep the tension alive Faulkner portrays his protagonists realistically, without spoiling their character weaknesses.Resume A dense language, a great atmosphere A unique novel This world wide work of art, at the height of Faulkner s creativity, leads to a linguistic treasure It must be read absolutely. The first thing that comes to mind in regard to The Sound and the Fury is Eliot s a heap of broken images Deciphering TSTF is like reassembling a shattered mirror difficult, and likely to end in pain.On the other hand, it s hard to deny that it s a great book, if only from the standpoint of workmanship The skill it took to create this piece, composed of so many seperate perspectives, confined to such a narrow and specific moments of time, makes me think of interlocking puzzles carved from a single piece of wood or stone Whether you like it or not, you have to admire the workmanship.That being said, I believe that this book is so highly regarded for exactly the qualities that make it inaccessible to the majority of readers If you have the patience to finish it, and the tools to decipher it, you become one of the select few, the literati elite It s regarded because it excludes Unfortunately, many lovers of literature want writing to need decoding they want layers of meaning inaccessible to the uninitiated I am not one of those readers.After all, once you do decode the book, once you ve assembled the shattered mirror, is the image you see there really that unique or fascinating I admit that I do have a certain sympathy for the characters in TSTF I believe them They feel real for me However, it s hard not to care about the characters after you ve worked so hard to understand exactly what the hell is going on with them You ve already invested so much time with them that they re practically family It vaguely smacks of manipulation for an author to use such a device to get his readers invested with his characters Finally, I guess that my issue is not with Faulkner, a master of his craft who managed what is nearly impossible, to do some thing new in the field of writing My issue is with the literature community, who chose to so highly esteem such a difficult nut to crack.The Sound and the Fury a masterpiece of form, and one of the most inaccessible books I ve ever picked up Again, it s hard to argue with the quality of the book I would recommend the book to very few readers, but I ve still been moved to write a couple of hundred words about it. Whew This is a devastating book Probably one of the most depressing stories I ve read Incest, castration, suicide, racism, misogyny this one has it all Even at the beginning, when it is possible to make out only pieces of the events, a nauseating sense of dread permeates Benji s narrative per Faulkner s pungent writing style And this feeling never really dissipates Jumping into The Sound and the Fury with no prior introduction is like driving through an impenetrable fog or into a blinding glare you can t quite tell who is who male or female black or white first, second, or third generation relative or friend or stranger But gradually, before frustration has a chance to set in, the fog begins to burn off and the glare becomes less direct By the time the omniscient narrator closes things out in part four, the scales have been fully removed and you are left with a crystal limpidness in which you can smell the sweet southern honeysuckle and feel the rotting wood of the old barn.It s interesting to confront another modernist s take on the human experience of time while concurrently reading In Search of Lost Time While Proust gently but thoroughly leads us through the inner workings of our past, present, and future, Faulkner attempts to capture the continual and forceful vying of these elements within the mind at the intentional cost of a coherent linear narrative The results are disorienting, yet powerfully emotive Adding subtly to this effect, Faulkner often relays visual experience egocentrically, particularly in the case of Benji, for whom objects and views vanish before his eyes when he has simply shifted or been turned by Luster or Caddy Because the first section takes place on the day between the third and fourth sections, I skimmed through some of it again before reading the final part I was surprised by what I could glean from snippets that had initially seemed inscrutable and incomplete This is a book made for rereading an American masterpiece, undoubtedly. The text of this Norton Critical Edition is that of the corrected edition scrupulously prepared by Noel Polk, whose textual note precedes the text David Minter s annotations are designed to assist the reader with obscure words and allusions Backgrounds begins with the appendix Faulkner wrote in 1945 and sometimes referred to as another telling of The Sound and the Fury and includes a selection of Faulkner s letters, excerpts from two Faulkner interviews, a memoir by Faulkner s friend Ben Wasson, and both versions of Faulkner s 1933 introduction to his novel Cultural and Historical Contexts presents four different perspectives, two of them new to the second edition, on the place of the American South in history Taken together, these works by C Vann Woodward, Richard H King, Carolyn Porter, and Robert Penn Warren provide the reader with valuable contexts for understanding the novel Criticism includes seventeen essays on The Sound and the Fury that collectively trace changes in the way we have viewed this novel over the last four decades The critics are Jean Paul Sartre, Irving Howe, Ralph Ellison, Olga W Vickery, Cleanth Brooks, Michael Millgate, John T Irwin, Myra Jehlen, Donald M Kartiganer, David Minter, Warwick Wadlington, John T Matthews, Thadious M Davis, Wesley Morris and Barbara Alverson Morris, Minrose C Gwin, Andr Bleikasten, and Philip M Weinstein A revised Selected Bibliography also is included.