The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner If I could get in contact with my American Literature professor from college, I would give him a big hug for never making us read this book. Because I really only have a vague idea of what went on in this novel. The Sound and the Fury is to classic literature as Lost is to modern television.

It can't be me.... Can it? After all, I was an English major. I dissected great works of literature, including Beowulf, while my professor actually spoke to us in Old English. (Okay, I did sometimes fall asleep in that class.) But, I studied Shakespeare for an entire year. I've read every novel by Ayn Rand. I've read (and enjoyed) Joyce for crying out loud!

Hemingway's advice for writing was to write the truest sentence you know. Apparently, for Faulkner it takes 15 pages to write that sentence. AArgghh... I know, I know, stream of consciousness I'm a fan did I mention I've read Joyce serves a purpose in moderation but not to leave the reader in a state of utter confusion I get the whole novel as a work of art thing but isn't the novelist supposed to keep his reader in mind no regard for us at all sentence structure isn't always such a bad thing.

Okay, I'm no Faulkner. I have to use a period once in a while. And back to Hemingway, the Faulkner/Hemingway rivalry is legendary.

William Faulkner said of Ernest Hemingway: ‘He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.’

And Hemingway’s response: ‘Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?’

Hemingway was of the "less is more" style of writing. I love it. It's real. It allows the reader to create the imagery. It's symbolism by omission. His short story "Hills Like White Elephants" is the perfect example. He also wrote the story that started the 6 word story craze-
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So, yeah, I was supposed to be reviewing Faulkner. I am disappointed, because my American literature professor did make us read As I Lay Dying and I loved it. I plan on reading it again now that I've read The Sound and the Fury for comparison. As far as what the novel is about? Well, it's about an amazingly dysfunctional family that would put reality shows to shame. There's a breakdown of moral values in the post civil war, post reconstruction South. I got some of the symbolism- like the man-child Benjy being a Christ-figure- he was 33 years old and born on Holy Saturday. There's the imagery of time and how each character deals with it. The attempt by each of them to make order out of chaos- which is what I was trying to do while reading.

All in all, I can appreciate what Faulkner accomplished in the era of modernism in literature. And I'm all for experimentation in writing. And Faulkner was definitely a pioneer in novel experimentation and paved the way for other styles to emerge. But The Sound and The Fury is just not my cup of tea.