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The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner (1 Viewer)

I just finished reading this, and, well, I'm still breathless. Probably the best novel I have ever read; Faulkner's ability to blend beautiful and confusing prose is to be commended. I didn't think it was possible to do it and, well, he just proved me wrong.

For those unaware, The Sound and the Fury tells the story of the Compson family through the eyes of three Compson brothers and their maid. This is Faulkner's own favorite novel, which is not really a surprise, since, according to himself, it's the only one he wrote completely free.

The book is divided into four sections. The first section is told by Benjy, and is probably the most confusing part of the novel. The second part is told by Quentin, and is a bit less confusing. The third is told by Jason and the fourth by the maid, Dilsey, and both are pretty straigt forward.

Technically speaking, my favorite section is the first one. There, Faulkner masterfully blends present and past, with impression following memory following impression, in a simple yet elegant style. It does take quite a bit of concentration to sort it all out and understand what the hell is going on; nevertheless, the experience is very rich and rewarding. Faulkner's technique is perfect, and the character's interior monologue flows very naturally, not once appearing to be forced or difficult for the sake of being difficult.

In fact, that is one of the novel's greatest merits: that although it is very difficult, it is also natural, compelling, I would even say accessible. It is not hermetic, nor pretentious or grandiloquent, managing to stay very simple (not simplistic!) despite all the complex techniques employed; Faulkner is very balanced in this regard.

The second part also mixes the past and the present, but in a less confusing way. Here, Faulkner shows that he can write more complicated when he wants to, mixing interior monologues with beautiful descriptions and insightful reflections. This part also explains some of the more obscure events of the first, though it never goes out of its way to do so.

The third part is less interesting, which is to say it is still impressive, but not as much as the first two. The writing is more straight forward, with no incursions into the past like the other two. That is not to say there aren't any incursions into the past, but that such incursions are no longer included in the narrative per se, but only alluded to. It does help to sort out some of the most confusing events in the oher two parts, though - which was Faulkner's intentions all along, anyway.

Finally, the fourth part is interesting on its own way. No longer written in first person, in this this part Faulkner shows that he can write beautifully in thrid person too - and damn beautifully, at that. This section provides the closing for it all, in a nice, pleasant way.

All in all, a masterpiece in every sense of the word. If you haven't read this yet, just go out now and buy it - mandatory reading for anyone who likes a good novel.
 

perkonet

Member
Have you read, "As I lay Dying?" I bought the set of three from Oprah's book club, and I was not impressed. It's so hard to read. There's about 7 or so characters, and each chapter is from a different character's first person narrative. I can hardly make sense of it. Each page is a new character, and I was half way through before I even understood who was who, and then I just stopped reading it. And I find the way it's written, with that southern hillbilly lingo so monontinous. Maybe I should try "The Sound and the Fury" instead.
 
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