Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Sound and the Fury

I HATED this book at first. I opened The Sound and the Fury only because of its position on the Modern Library's list. Wading through the first chapter, narrated by severely mentally challenged person for whom everything is a constant present and the events that he's talking about switching mid-sentence, I thought that this would be another that I just "read" and not completely understand, and then when I was done, I could check it off the list and put it on the shelf to point to and say, "yeah, I read it." Little did I realize that by the third chapter (each chapter is 100+ pages), I would actually like it. Who would have guessed, way back in A.P. English when I was suffering through "Barn Burning" that I would someday be able to say that I was actually enjoying a Faulkner novel - especially one that is so disorienting as this one - and that has 100+ page chapters!

Granted, I'm only 3/4 through, and as I know from my experience with Things Fall Apart, for example, one's opinion of a novel can drastically change in the course of reading. There is still an opportunity for this to become really bad.

There are a few points I want to bring up: the last chapter is narrated in the third person; the other three are narrated by Benji, Quentin, and Jason, though the central character is Caddy. She is the cause of the novel, but she never gets to speak. We are told her s tory through male voices. Is this the same thing behind As I Lay Dying? The central character is dead - I don't think that she ever spoke, did she?

Jason as the new head of the family, which had once been "governors and generals" has hit a new low with him. How is this realted to his mother's conviction that the Bascomb family is good stock, etc.?

1 comment:

tim said...

Just as a hint, there's more than affectation in the "constant present." There's an entire subtext in the novel about space and time as Einstein re-envisioned it. Ask your old philosophy professor about presentism and eternalism and the implications of special relativity.