Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Sound and the Fury (1929)

Perhaps one of the more interesting and telling points about the critical reception of William Faulkner is the wide variation and lack of consensus found in assessing any single "masterpiece"—this one gets the nod frequently, perhaps even most, but close behind it are Absalom, Absalom!; As I Lay Dying; and Light in August, not to mention the rest of the oeuvre, including a fat tome of stories, all well worth looking into. But this remains my favorite, in spite of all the effort and patience required to make it through the first of the four sections, the one that develops the "tale told by an idiot" part of the Shakespeare quote that engendered the title. As opaque as it generally is, it contains information essential to what follows, as the inevitable second reading of the whole really proves. In the sections that follow I find inspired sources and foreshadowings of J.D. Salinger, Jim Thompson, and Cormac McCarthy, respectively. Sure, it's all a bit melodramatic (strike that "bit"), but Faulkner plunges joyfully in language, meaning, and mood like a dog in a lake on a hot summer day; the pleasures and associations unfold and unfold and unfold.

In case it's not at the library.

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