NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Thursday, December 11, 2008


by William Faulkner

Faulkner's masterpiece telling of Caddy Compson and the Compson family, seen mostly through the eyes of her three brothers: mentally handicapped Benjy, Harvard-educated Quinn, and cold, resentful Jason.

I was terribly afraid of this book, so decided to read just enough background to get a handle on how to approach it but not enough to give anything away. Here is what I learned: If you keep in mind that the first part, told from the point of view of Benjy, will make no sense until later, it's a lot easier to get through. And this, too: The second, third and fourth parts don't make much sense on their own either.

Despite that, I found much of the writing in The Sound and the Fury strangely beautiful. Even at its most confusing it was able to evoke emotion -- mostly making me uncomfortable, like when you see couples verbally arguing in public and you know you should just walk away and mind your own business, but you really want to know what they meant by some of the weird, enigmatic things they said to each other.

I was able to pick out bits and pieces of the full picture as the book progressed, but I have to thank Sparknotes and Wikipedia for any real comprehension of what on earth was going on. Once I looked at those, I wanted to go back and read the book again. I have a feeling that will be a repetitive theme with me when it comes to classics. And that's not a bad thing!


Jeane said...

Faulkner is an author who definitely intimidates me. I tried to read this once and never got through Benjy's part. I guess I should try again.

Lezlie said...

Jeane ~ I listened to the book on audio, and while I wouldn't *recommend* doing it that way because varying typefaces in the print help the reader follow time shifts, it was a guarantee I wouldn't give up like I was afraid I would. The Wikipedia entry for the book is also very helpful without being too scholarly. I'm not a big fan of "stream of consciousness" writing, but I can now say I've read The Sound and the Fury and I think I would genuinely enjoy it the next time around with no fear.

Now that I've gotten through this one, I'm not afraid to try the rest of his work!


Michele said...

I have a love/hate thing going on with Faulkner. Love his short stories. Hate his novels. Not sure how to reconcile that.

Shelley said...

Oh, you brave, brave soul! I was so confused when I read this. And disturbed. I read it several years ago when there weren't a lot of resources online, but I don't think I could ever reread it unless I had a personal tutor!

Lezlie said...

Michele ~ I'm fascinated by him for some odd reason. I'm going to keep playing with both for as long as I can take it. I'm going to order a book of analysis of his short stories tomorrow. I need my head examined.

Chain Reader ~ I totally understand feeling disturbed. It is a disturbing book even when you hardly understand what's happening. I love that there are so many resources online now. It makes it so easy to dig as deeply as we like into the books that interest us.


Jeane said...

I'm glad you mentioned that about Wiki. If I ever try this again, I'll go read that first.

Lezlie said...

Jeane ~ Wikipedia is a lifesaver for me when it come to classics. It's just enough information to get me over the intimidation factor and shows me where I can find deeper analysis if I want it.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad that I'm not the only one who has to look up things after reading a book to make sure that I didn't miss anything. I've never read any Faulkner although I think I have a couple of his books.

Ladytink_534 said...

This sounds like something I would have to listen to on audiobook to be able to finish.

Lisa said...

Faulkner has a well-earned reputation for being both a genius and hard to read. However, I've found that it's well worth it if you stick with it. I agree that second and sometimes even third readings are required to get a full understanding.

Lezlie said...

Natasha ~ I'm sure I'm missed plenty even with looking it up. :-) It is a good feeling, though, to find that I picked up on some of the themes all on my own.

Ladytink ~ I plan on listening to Ulysses, too. I just know I'd never make it to the end if I read it on my own.

Lisa ~ I'm finding that I really like him despite the difficulty. I have a reader's guide for both his novels and his short stories to help me out. I think most literature benefits from multiple readings. Unfortunately, it's all we can do to get through everything we want to read even just a fist time! :-)


Andi said...

Yep, I've had this on my shelves for a long time. Even though I'm prepared for the weirdness I still haven't taken the plunge. Round of applause for you!

Lezlie said...

Thanks, Andi! I let this one sit for over a year before I finally got up the nerve to dive in.