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The influences of william faulkner in writing the sound and the fury

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When William Faulkner was asked by the Paris Review to share his thoughts on the art of fiction in 1956, he offered several useful pieces of advice to the aspiring author. A writer must learn the tools of his trade; Faulkner's were "paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey". Perhaps Faulkner was thinking of his 1929 novel The Sound and the Fury when he said this, as it is a book that takes the reader through the same story four times, from the perspective of four different characters — at which point readers just might, with luck and perseverance, have managed to piece together the narrative.

When he finished the novel, Faulkner took it to his friend and acting agent, Ben Wasson, and said to him: It's a real son-of-a-bitch … This one's the greatest I'll ever write. It opens inside the mind of the "idiot", Benjy, a 33-year-old man who has the mind of a small child.

Great Authors: William Faulkner

Benjy used to be described as "severely retarded"; he is now sometimes called "autistic", but as he is a fictional character in an era when such diagnoses were unavailable, it makes no sense to argue over what is "really" wrong with Benjy. Faulkner uses stream-of-consciousness narration to suggest the way that Benjy's mind flows through time: Benjy doesn't understand what is happening around him, and so cannot narrate the events he sees; Faulkner forces the reader to work out what is happening and when from the clues he drops.

It is a kind of detective fiction, the kind that drives some readers crazy: All reading requires the reader to infer meaning: It moves through as many as 14 different moments across a 30-year period in Benjy's memory, often without any overt signal to the reader that a shift in time has just occurred.

At various points in Benjy's narration, Faulkner decided to use italics "to establish for the reader Benjy's confusion; that unbroken-surfaced confusion of an idiot which is outwardly a dynamic and logical coherence," he explained in a letter, adding: Stephen M Ross and Noel Polk, two distinguished Faulkner scholars, have created a colour-coded version of The Sound and the Fury that the Folio Society is printing in a limited edition of 1,480 copies, each numbered by hand, on Abbey Wove paper with a gilded top edge, and quarter-bound in vermilion Nigerian goatskin leather blocked in gold; accompanying Faulkner's novel is a matching "line-by-line commentary and glossary" written by Ross and Polk.

If some might balk at the conspicuousness of such consumption, others will appreciate the continuing effort to reinvent bound books as objets d'arts in an age of electronic publishing.

Sarah Churchwell: rereading The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

The edition is unquestionably beautiful, a bibliophilic fantasy: It is not a question that Ross and Polk presume to answer easily; indeed, they acknowledge, it raises new questions: Reading the colour-coded version kept reminding me of a line from Iris Murdoch's The Bell: And yet, as Borges also shows, such madness is the madness of art, like the brilliant, bonkers endeavour of Alfred Appel to annotate all of Nabokov's Lolita.

It is fascinating, disruptive, distracting, maddening and enlightening, making a rainbow of Faulkner's stream of time. The Sound and the Fury remained Faulkner's favourite; it was his fourth novel, and the second that he placed in fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi "my apocryphal county," he called it.

The Sound and the Fury constituted an artistic breakthrough into the "sheer technical outrageousness" that would characterise such celebrated later works as A Light in AugustAs I Lay DyingGo Down, Moses and the book that I, for one, would crown as Faulkner's masterpiece, the dazzling Absalom, Absalom!

  1. He turns to his father for help and counsel, but the pragmatic Mr. Intuition spoke to the author about this loss by offering up this image of a woman climbing a pear tree to seek knowledge.
  2. She speaks as if it is just in her being to know. Compson tells him that virginity is invented by men and should not be taken seriously.
  3. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. For example, John T.
  4. Out, out, brief candle!

He didn't stop there: Together they tell the story of the decay of the American South. William Faulkner was born William Cuthbert Falkner on 25 September 1897, in New Albany, Mississippi; soon his family had relocated to Oxford, the town where he would live the rest of his life, and reinvent as the fictional Jefferson.

When the young Falkner tried to join the air force in 1918, he was rejected for being too short.

  • Tormented by his conflicting thoughts and emotions, Quentin commits suicide by drowning;
  • At Faulkner's behest, however, subsequent printings of The Sound and the Fury frequently contain the appendix at the end of the book; it is sometimes referred to as the fifth part.

Deciding to pass himself off as an Englishman and enlist in the Canadian RAF, he changed the spelling of his name to Faulkner and invented a mythical British family for himself, using a forged letter of reference from one Reverend Edward Twimberly-Thorndyke. For whatever reasons, he never changed the spelling back when he went on to invent the equally mythical clans of Yoknapatawpha. Faulkner never saw active service; in 1925 he published his first novel, Soldier's Payfollowed rapidly by Mosquitoes.

He was convinced that his next novel, Flags in the Dustthe first Yoknapatawpha story, was his best yet, but to his shock his publishers turned it down; heavily edited, it was eventually published as Sartoris in 1928.

The experience, said Faulkner, led to the breakthrough of The Sound and the Fury, as he gave up on publishers and set out to write the book he wanted to write.

  1. Without her, he is always wanting, always bellowing, always somehow incomplete. The bridge over the Charles River , where he commits suicide in the novel, bears a plaque to commemorate the character's life and death.
  2. When Caddy engages in sexual promiscuity, Quentin is horrified.
  3. It was still not complete, not until fifteen years after the book was published when I wrote as an appendix to another book the final effort to get the story told and off my mind, so that I myself could have some peace from it... Though Versh tries to help him counterbalance the cold a sense impression , it is Caddy who successfully performs this function.
  4. The book resembles a Greek tragedy, telling the story of Caddy, the "lost woman", from the point of view of her three brothers — each of whom is also, in an important way, lost — and then finally from the perspective of the Compsons' black servant, Dilsey.

Although his books were admired by other writers, Faulkner lived and wrote in relative obscurity for the first decade or so, until he wrote a bestseller called Sanctuary in 1931; it owed its success to its scandalously violent sexual content, including a scene in which a young woman is raped with a corncob and is turned by this experience into a prostitute for no apparent reason other than Victorian morality.

In 1949, he was awarded the Nobel prize for literature, and two of his subsequent novels, A Fable and The Reiverswhich was published posthumously in 1962, both won the Pulitzer.

The Sound and the Fury is the story of the Compson family's decline and fall; when Faulkner was asked by a student why the Compsons are such a disaster, he answered: The book resembles a Greek tragedy, telling the story of Caddy, the "lost woman", from the point of view of her three brothers — each of whom is also, in an important way, lost — and then finally from the perspective of the Compsons' black servant, Dilsey. Caddy is the novel's absent centre, the focus of all the characters but unreachable and unknowable — like the truth itself, some would say, as Faulkner offers only competing, subjective accounts.

But the novel is also layered with what Faulkner called "counterpoint" — careful patterns of words and images to create an artistic unity that transcends the fragmented perspectives on display. He claimed this "tragedy of two lost women: Caddy and her daughter" came to him first as an image of a little girl with symbolically muddy drawers; he loved it most, he said, because it "caused me the most grief and anguish, as the mother loves the child who became the thief or murderer more than the one who became the priest".

The Sound and the Fury was always the book that Faulkner felt "tenderest toward," he said, "the most gallant, the most magnificent failure" of all his novels.

A Jungian Analysis of The Sound and the Fury: Faulkner and the Four Functions