Faulkner: WTF?

Just started reading The Sound and the Fury. It’s jumping all around and I can barely follow it. Is the whole book going to be like this? Is Faulkner another Joyce? All I can think of is the sketch from last week’s SNL on the undiscovered end to Of Mice and Men.

I always thought of Faulkner as Joyce with a twang.

I’d never heard of Faulkner until I moved to TN from OH, and every goddamned English professor I had crammed Faulkner (and Flannery O’Connor) down our throats. I love Joyce. Faulkner is no Joyce. Faulkner isn’t worthy to lap up Joyce’s vomit from one of his all night drinking binges with Hemingway. There are, I will admit, occassional flashes of brilliance in Faulkner’s writing, but you have to wade through some much shit to get to them, that its not worth the effort.

**DanBlather **- you do know that TSatF’s first 1/3 or so is written from the perspective of Benjy, a mentally-disabled member of the family? For him, the passage of time doesn’t mean much, so his thoughts ramble from youth to present day without much clarity and his perception of the world is reduced to simpler perceptions. Not to mention that he was born with a different name (starts with an M I think) and is referred to with both names.

The execution of the section is masterful - kinda like Daniel Day-Lewis technically executing the role of a physically disabled character. But few people can just read that cold - you should get a Cliff’s Notes or equivalent analysis - read the book but use the analysis to connect the dots.

And **Tuckerfan **- I hear you: Joyce is a master on many levels and in many literature forms. But I don’t see a need to diminish Faulkner to elevate Joyce - Joyce’s work elevates him just fine. Faulkner is brilliant in his own way - As I Lay Dying is my personal favorite - it is technically brilliantly rendered and it’s satiric-yet-sentimental portrayal of a white trash family is complex, layered and ambitious…

That describes my experience reading Joyce pretty well. I preferred The Sound and The Fury to Joyce and the Joyce imitations I’ve read over the years because at least some of the time, I knew what was going on, and more importantly, cared what was going on.

The whole book is not written from Benjy’s point of view. That’s one section out of four, and the others are much more linear. Once you read those, and maybe a study aid - even a single short SparkNotes-y thing helps a lot - the beginning section makes a lot more sense. Or at least its significance is clearer.

WordMan, you’re correct about Benjy’s name. It was Maury.

Not everything by Faulkner is as difficult as The Sound and the Fury. Some of his writings are a lot more straightforward than others.

Of course, the same is true of Joyce.

From the title, what did you expect?

“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.”

– Macbeth

Sorry, but I can’t stand Faulkner in any shape or form. 99% of what he writes is so hamfisted and telegraphed so far ahead that he might as well write “THE END” immediately after the title.

I’ve got one Faulkner novel somewhere in the lower reaches of my bookshelves, and over the decades I’ve started it two times.

Both times I gave up in amazed laughter after five pages. My mental review was, “This contest to write a short story illustrating the concept of Lugubrious. And please use a trowel.”

Absalom, Absalom, maybe?

I read theSandtheF for AP English. I can honestly say I don’t remember much of it, except for a dysfunctional Southern family. The rest of it lived up to its referential quote: it signified nothing to me. :slight_smile:

I also read Joyce–better, but he’s still admiring himself in the mirror as he types, or so it seems to me.

Heh. That nicely sums up my first semester of college Literature. :smiley:

I love Faulkner, but I’m a Mississippian so it’s encoded into my DNA. Anyway, if you’re having trouble with his novels, I suggest trying some of his short stories first to get a feel for him. When I first read Faulkner, his writing style perplexed me so much I had to read a story three and four times to understand what happened. When I got it, it was a ‘Eureka!’ moment. Check out “That Evening Sun” and “A Rose for Emily”.