Tag Archives: william faulkner

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (unabridged audiobook read by Grover Gardner): This is on several “OMG you must read these books before you die” lists so I decided to try it. I was not prepared for now remarkably difficult it is to follow. It is divided into four sections, the first three narrated in (unreliable) first person and the fourth in third person omniscient. The first section is narrated by Benjy, a man with severe mental retardation; next is Quentin, a neurotic with a tendency to interrupt himself midsentence; and finally we have Jason, an evil man with an apparent distaste for proper nouns, often going entire scenes talking about “her” without letting the reader know who “she” is. The fourth section would be a breath of fresh air, tying everything together, except it’s so strangled with purple prose it’s almost unbearable. To be fair, this should never have been an audiobook. Gardner is an excellent narrator, but with no way to obviously set apart the italicized sections from the rest it all becomes one big jumble, jumping back and forth through time without any indication to the reader of what’s happening when. (Multiple characters sharing the same name doesn’t help either.) Not that I think I would have liked this book had I experienced it in print first. The characters are despicable. The mother especially got under my skin, with her self-centered mewling about what a martyr she is. Now, just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean you won’t. I can see how this book would appeal to people who enjoy an extra challenge in their reading, who define “classics” as books that require multiple reads to fully understand. I actually gave some thought to rereading it, but I didn’t really want to spend any more time with the Compsons than strictly necessary. In short, if you’re just looking for a good story the first time around, I would strongly suggest skipping this one – or at least having a study guide close at hand while you read.

After finishing this, I read its corresponding Wikipedia entry. Though usually not a fan of spoilers, I wish I’d read this synposis before tackling the actual text. It may have been easier to parse.

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