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As I Lay Dying [Hardcover]

William Faulkner
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Quintessential Faulkner April 13 2004
Among academics and literary connoisseurs at the moment, William Faulkner is generally the greatest American author to ever write. This novel, his quintessential work, is one of the main reasons why; it also epitomizes his work in many ways, collecting in one place many of his most pivotal techniques, themes, and concerns. The book's narrative complexity is widely-noted and highly-praised: the novel is composed of some 50-odd sections of narration by 15 different narrators. Each speaker has a distinctive personality, parlance, and way of viewing the world. The entire story is built around one central event: the death of the Bundren family matriarch, hence the title. As with The Sound and the Fury, the structure is not linear: it is told in bits and starts by each narrator, each revealing something that the others didn't reveal while also concealing something that the others did not. Different people often present the same event in totally different ways. The different sections of narration and the multiple narrators also provide insight into the psychology (and psychopathology) of each speaker. In the writing, Faulkner alternates between what the characters say, what they consciously think, and even what they unconsciously think. These latter two, especially the unconscious thoughts, are presented by Faulkner in a realistic and true-to-life manner: sometimes random, sometimes seemingly nonsensical, and sometimes incomplete. In so doing, Faulkner skillfully and successfully employs the often-cited but much-maligned and frequently-misunderstood technique of stream-of-consciousness. One might get the sense that Faulkner had a hard time running back and forth between the various plates that he had spinning, in order to keep any of them from falling down. Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "My mother is a fish" Jan. 11 2008
This is the first Faulkner novel I have read, after grinding through a few of his shorts like "A Rose For Emily". I've become a huge fan of Cormac McCarthy, who is oft described as Faulknerian, so I decided to give his long prose a chance. AS I LAY DYING was one of the darkest, most soul crushing, and oddly humorous, books I have ever read. I don't think I've ever despised a character as much as Anse Bundren. I hate him from basically his introduction.

I've never been left as staggered as I was after reading AS I LAY DYING. I finished the book basically after my second year English class, having just studied Paradise Lost, sitting at a desk on the campus library's fourth floor, looking out the window as it snowed.

Hell of an experience.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Faulkner belongs with the very best Oct. 17 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As I Lay Dying is great beyond great. Filled with pain and desperation and poverty as well as wild, dark humor, it is above all intensely human. Written entirely from the characters' points of view, it takes the reader on a wild, desperate, crazed road trip instead of what should have been a solemn trip to the graveyard. Even the dead speak in this remarkable book. One of the most remarkable novels ever written.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rereading Faulkner July 7 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read "As I Lay Dying" many years ago and at that time was blown away by the powerful narratives of the characters. But at that time I didn't really understand or appreciate the passions of the characters so strongly depicted by Faulkner. Recently, the title appeared in my Amazon listing of what other people were reading and I thought after 20 years it might be a good idea to reread it from a more mature stance. I was not disappointed. From the moment I read the first words I was hooked. It was as though I had never read this incredible American classic. I had new insights into the characters and the whole atmosphere of the book. What a writer. The rereading has encouraged me to read some of his other books. I would recommend this book highly to those who have never read it and to those who read it years ago.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intro to William Faulkner April 22 2004
I've read three of Faulkner's great novels, "Absalom, Absalom!" "The Sound and the Fury," and this one. Of the three, "As I Lay Dying" is the easiest and perhaps the most fun. Actually, after about the first 10 pages or so, the storyline is pretty easy to figure out. The only thing difficult is differentiating and remembering all the character names and associating the characters with their actions. Taking notes might actually be helpful. A family tree in the beginning would have been helpful too, but I'm sure Faulkner would have objected. Faulkner forces you to figure out simple things like gender, relative age, and familial relationships without giving you too many clues, but things soon become clear. Of the three Faulkner novels I've read, this is by far the funniest, and has a great punchline at the end. A must read for Faulkner fans, and if you're going to dive in to his works, this is a great place to start.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Confusing, Yet Satisfying April 2 2004
I recently had to read As I Lay Dying for my college english class, and i must say that this book keeps you reading. This was my first taste of Faulkner, and it just left me wanting more. His writing style isn't very straightforward, and he uses a wide variety of narrators, but the story itself is great. I highly recommend giving As I Lay Dying a shot.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Words, Damnation and Salvation March 1 2004
Much has been said about America's great writer, William Faulkner, and about this novel in particular. He is a great craftsman of fiction. Of all American writers, he perfected the use of that stream of consciousness narration we all heard about in English Literature 101. His fascination with the "grotesque" and with the legacy of the Civil War in the South has been covered time and time again. But I think AS I LAY DYING has one other element going for it that doesn't appear as prominently in the others, and that is the power or lack of power of language.
The "I" in William Faulkner's AS I LAY DYING, is Addie Bundren. And while the book is about her death and her family's obligation to bury her miles away in her hometown, Addie's voice is only given one chapter, and that chapter is in the dead center of the book. Flares and sirens should be going off. All the chapters surrounding this central one are remarkable examples of inarticulation, including the famous one-sentence chapter from the youngest Bundren, Vardaman: "My mother is a fish." Addie, however, in her brief chapter, has much to say about everyone, including herself. Her last statement, however, while her devout neighbor tries to force her to repent, points out the impotence of language; that salvation and damnation are just words. Compare this to Dickens' belief in the moralizing power of novels. Dickens believed that his art would have a beneficial effect on his society; think of all the times he addresses his readers and implores them to listen to him and learn. Less than a century later, Faulkner admits that in the end, salvation or damnation is "just a word."
But after having said all that, I don't want you to think that this novel is a mere screen for Faulkner's philosphy.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars As I lay reading
While normally one to pick some "word of mouth" book, like Jackson McCrae's CHILDREN'S CORNER or Martel's LIFE OF PI, I instead sought out something more classical. Glad I did. Read more
Published on March 26 2005 by J. Densmore
1.0 out of 5 stars Ghastly
One of the top 5 or 10 worst things I was forced to read at school.
Published on March 8 2005
5.0 out of 5 stars You should be dying to read it
This is the second of Faulkner's works I have read, the first being "The Sound and the Fury". Read more
Published on July 28 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Dismal
I've been attempting to read at least a couple of books by each of the world's great writers. It is a fantastic process discovering new and varied genius. Read more
Published on May 8 2004 by Tome Raider
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't be scared to pick this book up
I had only heard bad things about William Faulkner's writing, so I was a little leery of this book. However, once I got into it, it wasn't that bad. Read more
Published on May 3 2004 by Megan Ealy
5.0 out of 5 stars Requires Patience
This is at least the third or fourth time that I've read this book. The first two or three times were over 30 years ago in Literature classes. Then I was impressed by the writing. Read more
Published on April 18 2004 by P. Vitale
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this in 2 sittings
I really enjoyed this book and recommend this book to anyone interested in reading Faulkner. The different points of view put an interesting perspective on the whole situation,... Read more
Published on March 24 2004 by Crazy2Bhere
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