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The Sound and the Fury Paperback – Jan 30 1991

4.1 out of 5 stars 199 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (Jan. 30 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679732241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679732242
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 9 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 199 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #27,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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


“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

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Format: Paperback
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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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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
I write this review realizing that this book is considered a classic, and people much more intelligent than I consider this book brilliant. But I didn't enjoy reading it. The whole 'stream-of-consciousness' style of writing is very hard to follow (especially coming first person from a mentally handicapped individual). I finished the book only because I hate not finishing books.
On a positive note, the last two sections of the book are readable. In fact, the book actually gets somewhat interesting with these two chapters. I can identify with the reviewer who wrote that he felt Jason was his hero in the story. Though Jason was a rotten individual, it was a relief to be able to read something understandable. Now that I know 'classics' can be this bad, I am not as excited to read them as I was before encountering this book.
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Format: Paperback
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 the impression that even language has limits in portraying thought, and that the stream goes much deeper than we could possibly know.

He has unique narrative styles in each chapter, with the first being perhaps one of the most famous in all of literature. Benjy Compson, a 33 year-old, mentally-impaired man, goes about his day on his thirty-third birthday, but reflects on several different points in his past. However, he isn't conscious of this switch - because Benjy is handicapped, he perceives time as one great continuum in the present. When we are shown a time in the past, Benjy believes it is something that happens to him in the present day. I have always been fascinated with the minds of mentally-handicapped individuals, and I think that Faulkner does a great job of suggesting emotion and character, especially when his focalized character cannot do so himself.

The book has three interior monologues that follow: Quentin, Jason, and Dilsey all relate their visions of the Compson family tragedy. This book is many things. I think Faulkner deserves credit for style and insight above all - he has clearly refined Freudian and Joycean psychology into lyrical passages that reflect the twists and turns of the human mind quite well.

That said, 'The Sound and the Fury' is by no means an easy read. Faulkner offers no help to readers. Instead, we treat the characters as though we meet them in everyday experience. This is a difficulty that I can't blame some readers for setting Faulkner down to read something more accessible. But it IS very much WORTH the STRUGGLE.
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