EPS Review #123 - The Sound And The Fury

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, Norton 1994 (1929), 442pp (but half are commentary in this edition)

Reeling from the over-promoted and negligible Kite Runner, our book group decided to retreat to a classic work. Our two Americans discovered that none of the Englishmen had read any Faulkner, so we picked this book. I had read and enjoyed both Light in August and As I Lay Dying while in high school.

Well, we had a high failure-to-read rate, even though the book is short. I have to admit that after a few pages of the stream-of-consciousness chapter by Benjy, when Quentin appeared to have two sexes, I googled the character names and found some cheat sites (including Oprah's). It must be amazing to be a student these days, with these kinds of resources available. However, I think part of the reason that Light in August was memorable to me was that I spent so much time on my own puzzling out that "memory believes before knowing remembers" chapter. And then, later on in TSATF, I could not decide if the incest was real, so I googled that, too. Oh, how low I have fallen. But I still dare to say that I liked the book, and the memory of Caddy (in her muddy clothes) and Jason (arguing with his father..."you cannot bear to think that someday it will no longer hurt") will stick with me. Faulkner's South is sure a curious place -- I wonder how he knew what a negro church service was like. I suppose I could google to find that out, too.

Steven wrote: This comment interested me ' I wonder how he knew what a negro church service was like.suppose I could google to find that out, too. ', in our postmodern world where everyone's experiences are unique and 'right for them' can you really google an experience. I suppose people's experiences are valid, but only from a voyeuristic point of view but have no value for personal growth. The comment also sparked a childhood memory, of my father recounting a service he went to whilst on business in the US; Martin Luther King's church, and seeing his wife and all his old buddies and the welcome he received, it rather blew him away.

I replied: Well, what I really meant was, did he attend a black church service or what? I would think that being a slumming white guy in an all-black church might not be a comfortable experience. But my brief experience with actually having servants (during a week in Nepal) made me realise how intimate that relationship is (or a slave relationship must have been): they see your every move, and you see theirs. Not something I enjoyed.