Fed up with Faulkner

My current classic is The Sound and the Fury, and I am so annoyed with William Faulkner right now. I knew vaguely that the story included a mentally challenged character, but didn’t expect it to be told entirely from his narrow perspective.

So far everything is a mishmash of various scenes from Benjy’s life, at least four different days from what I can tell. At fifty pages in I think I’ve identified which characters are related. I was thrown when the pronouns referring to Quentin kept switching, until I finally realized that “he” Quentin is Benjy’s brother in the childhood scenes, and “she” Quentin is Benjy’s niece in the present-day scenes. Seriously? Was Faulkner being intentionally abstruse, or did he just run out of names?

If this were a regular book I would have given up by now, but because it’s a classic I feel like I have to persevere. Has anyone else read this, and does it get clearer? I don’t know if I can take 250 more pages.

Published in: on July 22, 2010 at 5:42 pm  Comments (5)  

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  1. I love classic novels and I love William Faulkner’s short stories, but I have not been able to force my way through The Sound and the Fury. I tried to read the novel on three separate occasions and eventually donated it to my library. I did manage to force my way through As I Lay Dying. Although I know it is a classic, I really hated that novel. I didn’t like the characters or the style in which it was written. Truthfully although I find his short stories to be brillant, I find Faulkner’s novels to be overrated and unenjoyable. I think lightning might strike me down at any minute now .. .

    • Laura–thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’m going to try and finish this, but it’s good to know not to bother with As I Lay Dying. He does seem to have talent so I might have to check out his short stories at some point.

  2. I’m afraid I haven’t read this one and now that I’ve read you’re review? I think I’m just not going to go there. Thanks for the review!!

    • Melinda–there are so many other books out there. I’m sure this must appeal to some people, but it takes a lot of concentration.

  3. […] and refused to let myself get caught up in any fiction other than Faulkner. Unfortunately, he didn’t tempt me too often. [They] say a drowned man’s shadow was watching for him in the water all the time. […]

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