Sunday, October 7, 1979

William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury published 50 years ago today

First posted 6/9/2020; updated 7/6/2020.

The Sound and the Fury

William Faulkner

First Publication: October 7, 1929

Category: gothic fiction

Sales: ?


About the Book:

Faulkner’s fourth novel, The Sound and the Fury, was not successful when initially published in 1929, but started getting critical attention after the publication of Sanctuary in 1931. WK In fact, critics came to see it as his masterpiece LC and Faulkner himself considered it his favorite. LC It has since been embraced as “one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.” AZ In 1950, he was awarded the Nobel Prize and in 1951 he received France’s Legion of Honor. LC

The action is “set in the fictional county of Yoknapatawpha, Mississippi, as are most of Faulkner’s novels,” LC and “uses the American South as a metaphor for a civilization in decline” LC in the post-Civil War era. The story “centers on the Compson family, former Southern aristocrats…struggling to deal with the dissolution of their family and its reputation. Over the course of the 30 years or so related in the novel, the family falls into financial ruin, loses its religious faith and the respect of the town of Jefferson, and many of them die tragically.” WK

“The novel is divided into four parts, each told by a different narrator,” LC “some of the most memorable characters in literature.” AZ It “employs a number of narrative styles, including stream of consciousness,” WK“in which a character’s thoughts are conveyed in a manner roughly equivalent to the way human minds actually work.” LC

The intellectually-disabled “Benjy” Compson’s section “is characterized by a highly disjointed narrative style with frequent chronological leaps.” WK “The haunted, neurotic Quentin,” AZ Benjy’s older brother, and the events leading up to his suicide are the focus of section two. The third section is told from “the point of view of Jason, Quentin’s cynical younger brother.” WK “The last section primarily focuses on Dilsey, one of the Compsons’ black servants” WK and is told from “a third person omniscient point of view.” WK

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