Monday, January 11, 2010

Year of Reading Faulkner Update: The Sound and The Fury

In 2010, Deckfight decided to take on Faulkner. This is a chronicle of our journey.

Hey remember this? I'll admit, it's been a bit of struggle the first two weeks. I'm going pretty slow, I'm reading some other stuff simultaneously, really just to keep my interest. Yes, this is hard. And no, I'm not totally into The Sound and The Fury yet, but I have started.

Just so we're clear, I've read no outside criticism. No Wikipedia of the book, no Cliffsnotes, and I never read this before in high school or college. I just read the back of the book and learned of Benjy the "man-child."

In my Faulkner Reader edition, I'm on page 60, 61, just after the "June 2, 1910" section. Which by the way, is this the first (and only) chapter designation? More chapters would be helpful, but I guess that would disturb the rhythm that Faulkner establishes with the time flips and italics. It's hard to read, but I settled into the rhythm of it by about the 25th or 30th page, though I felt mroe confused than the flashing-piercing-time shocks of the Lost castaways.

Benjy is what one of our Sound and Fury editions calls a "man-child," obviously mentally-incapacitated, yet observant enough to craft a nice first-person narrative. There's some weird fascination with sister Caddy, with a simmering sexual tension there--incest insinuations make me sick.

With that I'm confused on the rest of the characters and their relationships...Dilsey is obviously a caretaker/servant for the family, but I have no idea where Luster, Jason or Varsh come in, except that they sleep in a barn sometimes. And why, exactly, did they change Benjy's name from Maury? Was it because it was more biblical?

Conclusion so far: Almost threw this book down within the first 10 pages, then settled into it. Wasn't sure if the whole thing was going to be Benjy/Maury's disjointed observations, but now that I've barely started the Quentin section, I'm intrigued to see what is revealed.

Anybody else reading this? What do you think so far?


  1. Faulkner - a subject near and dear to my heart. They changed Benjy's name in order to change his luck, which didn't really work since he was still mentally ill. Stick it out to the Jason section, which is absolutely freakin' hilarious in its meanness.

    Best Faulkner book imho is Light in August. Used to be a great band here (Raleigh) in the 80s with the same name. Very jangly, as you might expect.

  2. karen--just caught your comment. please keep following along & help me out.


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