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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 (195 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 9 2009

“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
3 of 3 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 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sounds like fury to me . . . Jan. 13 2005
I frequently found myself in awe of Faulkner's immense skill as a writer, that he can create something like this. THE SOUND AND THE FURY is divided into four parts, each of which consist of different narrators. The first part is told by, Benjy, a mentally retarded 33 year old. His tale best exemplifies Faulkner's title as his narrative is simply a whole lot of sound and a whole lot of fury. The way Faulkner incorporates Shakespeare's quote from Hamlet into this novel is brilliant. The quote speaks of a "tale told by an idiot", which is exactly how the story begins. But there's really too much to go into-you simply have to read this great novel. I was at times reminded of McCrae with his brilliant bringing together of ideas-they way he did in his BARK OF THE DOGWOOD (a book that owes much to Faulkner.) But SOUND/FURY goes much deeper and will probably remain one of the major classics of the past century.
Also recommended: McCrae's CHILDREN'S CORNER
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His best July 28 2004
By A Customer
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. As one of the most eminent authors of the 20th century, Faulkner blends time and thought into one entity with an ability that rivals Joyce and sets him apart throughout American fiction. The outcome is a masterpiece that is ultimately the tale of the fall of the Southern aristocracy. The novel is extremely difficult to grasp but I urge all who attempt the challenge to expect to spend a great deal of time to understand the true meaning of the text. Also recommended for Faulknerian gothic blended with the wit of Sedaris, try THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD.
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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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William Faulkner's fourth novel, The Sound and the Fury, is his first true masterpiece, and considered by many to be his finest work. It was Faulkner's own favorite novel, primarily, he says, because it is his 'most splendid failure.' Depicting the decline of the once aristocratic Compson family. The novel is divided into four parts, each told by a different narrator.

The first part is told from the point of view of Benjy Compson, a thirty three year old 1diot, and has flashbacks of the earliest events in the novel. Benjy is the key to the novel's title. For the most part, his language is simple, short, vocabulary basic sentences. Most of his memories concern his sister, Caddy, who is in some ways the central character in the novel. Benjy's earliest depicted memory, from 1898 -- when he was three -- establishes the essence of her character. Benjy also recalls his name change from Maury to Benjamim in 1900, his brother Quentin's suicide in 1910, and the sequence of events at the gate which lead to his being castrated, also in 1910.

The second part recounts the story from Quentin Compson's perspective. (Benjy's brother) Even though the present day of this section is almost eighteen years prior to the present day of Benjy's section, it nevertheless follows roughly the chronological development of the novel, for while many of Benjy's recollections are of their early childhood, most of Quentin's flashbacks record their adolescence, particularly Caddy's dawning sexuality. Quentin's section takes place on the day he commits suicide, and in the present we follow his wanderings around Boston. He is a student at Harvard University as he prepares for death. Like Benjy, he too is obsessed with the past and frequently lapses into flashbacks.
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Most recent customer reviews
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"
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone
As a story, the first two sections of "The Sound and the Fury" are almost unintelligible. But somehow Faulkner succeeds in giving you clues to what is going on despite... Read more
Published on April 22 2004 by Luis M. Luque
1.0 out of 5 stars Remember what Twain said about a classic?
Without the hype, I wouldn't have even finished it. As the reputation precedes it though, I had to give it a chance. Read more
Published on April 22 2004 by Jacob Reidt
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