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The Sound and the Fury: The Corrected Text [Library Binding]

William Faulkner
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (197 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 9 2009 1439571066 978-1439571064 Reprint

“I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire. . . . I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.” —from The Sound and the Fury
The Sound and the Fury is the tragedy of the Compson family, featuring some of the most memorable characters in literature: beautiful, rebellious Caddy; the manchild Benjy; haunted, neurotic Quentin; Jason, the brutal cynic; and Dilsey, their black servant. Their lives fragmented and harrowed by history and legacy, the character’s voices and actions mesh to create what is arguably Faulkner’s masterpiece and  one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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The ostensible subject of The Sound and the Fury is the dissolution of the Compsons, one of those august old Mississippi families that fell on hard times and wild eccentricity after the Civil War. But in fact what William Faulkner is really after in his legendary novel is the kaleidoscope of consciousness--the overwrought mind caught in the act of thought. His rich, dark, scandal-ridden story of squandered fortune, incest (in thought if not in deed), madness, congenital brain damage, theft, illegitimacy, and stoic endurance is told in the interior voices of three Compson brothers: first Benjy, the "idiot" man-child who blurs together three decades of inchoate sensations as he stalks the fringes of the family's former pasture; next Quentin, torturing himself brilliantly, obsessively over Caddy's lost virginity and his own failure to recover the family's honor as he wanders around the seedy fringes of Boston; and finally Jason, heartless, shrewd, sneaking, nursing a perpetual sense of injury and outrage against his outrageous family.

If Benjy's section is the most daringly experimental, Jason's is the most harrowing. "Once a bitch always a bitch, what I say," he begins, lacing into Caddy's illegitimate daughter, and then proceeds to hurl mud at blacks, Jews, his sacred Compson ancestors, his glamorous, promiscuous sister, his doomed brother Quentin, his ailing mother, and the long-suffering black servant Dilsey who holds the family together by sheer force of character.

Notoriously "difficult," The Sound and the Fury is actually one of Faulkner's more accessible works once you get past the abrupt, unannounced time shifts--and certainly the most powerful emotionally. Everything is here: the complex equilibrium of pre-civil rights race relations; the conflict between Yankee capitalism and Southern agrarian values; a meditation on time, consciousness, and Western philosophy. And all of it is rendered in prose so gorgeous it can take your breath away. Here, for instance, Quentin recalls an autumnal encounter back home with the old black possum hunter Uncle Louis:

And we'd sit in the dry leaves that whispered a little with the slow respiration of our waiting and with the slow breathing of the earth and the windless October, the rank smell of the lantern fouling the brittle air, listening to the dogs and to the echo of Louis' voice dying away. He never raised it, yet on a still night we have heard it from our front porch. When he called the dogs in he sounded just like the horn he carried slung on his shoulder and never used, but clearer, mellower, as though his voice were a part of darkness and silence, coiling out of it, coiling into it again. WhoOoooo. WhoOoooo. WhoOooooooooooooooo.
What Faulkner has created is a modernist epic in which characters assume the stature of gods and the primal family events resonate like myths. It is The Sound and the Fury that secures his place in what Edmund Wilson called "the full-dressed post-Flaubert group of Conrad, Joyce, and Proust." --David Laskin --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


“I am in awe of Faulkner’s Benjy, James’s Maisie, Flaubert’s Emma, Melville’s Pip, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein—each of us can extend the list. . . . I am interested in what prompts and makes possible this process of entering what one is estranged from.” —Toni Morrison
“No man ever put more of his heart and soul into the written word than did William Faulkner. If you want to know all you can about that heart and soul, the fiction where he put it is still right there.” —Eudora Welty

From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not worth it Jan. 12 2013
By j
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Too many typographical errors. The text is already difficult enough to follow with its stream of thought narrative and changing time frames; the typos contradict the "promise" in the preface that it upholds "the highest standards in ebook production."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be dissuaded by readers who don't get it June 20 2004
By sallyjo
Yes, this book is difficult. Yes, you should read it more than once. But don't let the readers who weren't willing to invest the time in it keep you from reading it. Some have dismissed this novel as inaccessible, but there is much in this novel to reward the serious reader. It's not hype.
Faulkner introduces in this book a groundbreaking, complex narrative style, and this book influenced many later American writers. I was amazed at the genius of the construction. That alone makes the book worth reading. It's a work of art.
But it's not for everyone -- if you don't enjoy mentally challenging books, it's not for you. But if you're like me, and you like books that challenge you, and you like seeing writers experiment with language and structure, this is a satisfying read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sound advice, to buy this book March 26 2005
By far the most difficult part about reading S&F was convincing myself that I really wanted to tackle the novel. And yet, upon sitting down to read the book I was immediately engrossed by the Compson's story. A self-proclaimed Faulkner fanatic, S&F presents itself as his most exciting novel. Filled with issues we have all (on some level) contemplated within our own convoluted minds, S&F forces us to reevaluate our understanding of love, family, death, and most importantly why we bother to endure through each day. For those of us desperately searching for connections between Faulkner's books and his Nobel prize speech, S&F unfortunately does not offer any overt references as to how we can or should ultimately prevail. Or does it? Maybe the power found within S&F lies in its refusal to indicate a way in which we should all strive to prevail and instead shows how deeply personal the matter must be for each individual. If you want another great, great book, try Jackson McCrae's THE CHILDREN'S CORNER with its excellent writing style and great insight into the human heart.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not a fan of stream-of-consciousness writing Feb. 28 2001
By A Customer
I have the misfortune of being forced to read this book for one of my university classes. I honestly don't see why this is considered to be such a classic in literature. The only thing worthy of note about this book is that Faulkner attempted an experiment with storytelling no one had never done before.
As a writer and a student of English literature (by the way, for those who think only the "uneducated" don't like this book, I am proof to the contrary) I believe a writer must give us, as readers, at least some clear indication of what we are supposed to take away from his or her piece of writing, even if he or she asks us to come to our own conclusions about the message or messages. The problem with stream-of-consciousness storytelling is that it does not convey its significant points clearly. Does Faulkner honestly want us to take away that "it is a tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/Signifying nothing"? (The preceding is a quote from Macbeth where Faulkner gets his title.) This is the message I take away from the novel. The story signifies absolutely nothing; the end of the book and the fates of the characters fizzle into nothing. The story is mediocre at best. It is only memorable for the bizarre way in which it is told.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Want to be confused? READ THIS BOOK!!! June 13 1999
By A Customer
I read this book back in college and I hated every moment of it. I thought I was young and naive. I read it again some years later.... same result. My professor (who had taught this book for many years until we convinced her not to use it anymore) walked us through the entire book, so I understand it... I just don't think it is worth the time.
The biggest problem is the writing style. Faulkner writes using "Stream of Consciousness," a writing style meant to show the reader what characters are actually thinking. It's as if you are inside the character's head, listening to his/her thoughts. One problem: the first part of the book is about someone who is mentally retarded. But you don't know this. You read and read and the book jumps from place to place with no connection whatsoever because it is occuring in the mind of someone who has no concept of time or reality. In a later section, one of the characters goes mad. In this section, if you buy the book, you will get the joy of reading page after page of text with NO PUNCTUATION WHATSOEVER. No capitalization, no commas, no periods.. NOTHING.
Trust me on this one. Do not buy this book. Buy something you will enjoy. A book does not have to be this complicated to be a classic. A book should just be enjoyable.
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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Before commenting on the content and value of the book, let me warn that this is one of the most difficult to understand and appreciate of all American novels. Several factors combine to create that difficulty. First, one of the narrators is a person with mental deficiencies. Second, the first section uses an unusual flashback technique that cannot be understood very clearly until you have read the whole book (perhaps more than once). Third, Faulkner is sparing in his clues of how the stories weave together. You have to watch carefully for them. Fourth, the sensibilities of the day meant that much is implied rather than stated overtly. But you have to understand what those hints are about, or you miss the story. Finally, there is much dense Southern black dialect here that requires slow reading to capture the sense of. Fifth, the interior dialogues are interspaced with external dialogues . . . which can create confusion. Sixth, there is a lot of crude stream of consciousness material here, but it will not enchant you as Joyce's or Proust's will. Seventh, the book is heavy with unusual symbolism that is easy to miss. Eighth, the center of the story is often drawn in by looking at the edges rather than looking directly at the center.

So if you like a challenge (like extremely complex puzzles), you will love The Sound and The Fury. If you like your fiction more straightforward, you are going to wonder where you are at times. If you like new experiences in your reading, you will find the book very rewarding.

You will meet three generations of Compsons in this novel, along with their servants, friends, and coworkers. Each Compson is experiencing perceptual disconnections that make them ineffectively connected to reality. But each is different in their dysfunction.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Faulkner's (true) Tour de Force
This novel is a tour de force of insight into character, emotion, and time. Faulkner does a tremendous job of placing us directly in the stream of consciousness, and leaves us with... Read more
Published 4 months ago by AP
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sound and the Fury invites a number of approaches, methods, and...
William Faulkner's fourth novel, The Sound and the Fury, is his first true masterpiece, and considered by many to be his finest work. Read more
Published on Dec 25 2007 by Reviewing for dummies
4.0 out of 5 stars Sounds like fury to me . . .
I frequently found myself in awe of Faulkner's immense skill as a writer, that he can create something like this. Read more
Published on Jan. 13 2005 by Bobby-Ray
5.0 out of 5 stars His best
Not only Faulkner's best, but his most accesible work THE SOUND AND THE FURY is a book that can be read by just about anyone. Read more
Published on July 28 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly Obtuse
This was my third Faulkner read...following Sancuary and Light in August. I must say that I don't see why this book gets the praise it gets. Read more
Published on June 25 2004 by Agent Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
This book is amazingly hard to comprehend but if you stick with it and make sure you understand benjy's and quentin's section by the end you will be glad you did.
Published on June 9 2004 by Kyle Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars The best
Of all the Faulkner books available, this one is by far the best. And I've read them all. Yes, that's correct, all of them. Read more
Published on June 1 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Amazing. Still Challenging.
From a narrative standpoint, this novel moves from the disconnected observations of the retarded Benji, to the guilty thoughts of the pathetic and suicidal Quentin, to the... Read more
Published on June 1 2004 by Ethan Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars Faulkner Can't Fail
I read somewhere that Faulkner believed that he failed in writing this novel because he used a few narrators to craft his story. Read more
Published on May 16 2004 by "bumblebeany"
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