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Faulkner: Help!

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Charlie Bernstein, Jun 9, 2020.

  1. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Just started reading his book Go Down, Moses. Slogged through the first story, "Was." I'm going to give it another try, because I kept getting lost.

    I usually don't have reading comprehension problems. I'm fine with Shakespeare and Pynchon, made it through Ulysses unscathed, and have enjoyed lots of southern writers, like Barry Hannah and Flannery O'Connor and Pat Conroy and Erskine Caldwell and Clyde Edgerton.

    Without listing all the things that befuddled me about "Was" (like the title), do you have any tips for sorting out of Faulker? Or is it just a case of it-is-what-it-is?

    =O.
     
  2. telleutelleme

    telleutelleme Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Start with the Reivers, its entertaining and easy to follow.
     
  3. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

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    yeah, the Reivers is a wonderful story. Sorting through other choices in the catalog is worth the effort.

    I've come across a few simple recommendations for reading Faulkner, which I'll just pass along. I've slogged through the Sound and the Fury, but I've never recommended it to anyone, FWIW.

    Read aloud. Take your time. When you are reading aloud, you are doing a kind of simultaneous translation in your mind, sorting it out, so to speak. Give a try anyway.

    Don't read the tiny print (inexpensive) paperbacks. yes, this offends my conservation orientation, but go to the library instead (when they re-open) and get as large a font as you can find.

    wait for another moment. I had trouble reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez (one Hundred Years of Solitude, in particular) because I didn't care for magical realism at that moment.

    that's all I got. Good luck!
     
  4. stxrus

    stxrus Poster Extraordinaire

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    My best wishes. I couldn’t do it and I tried because I wanted to
     
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  5. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Hi, Charlie. This thread is from a while ago, but some of the responses might be helpful. I don't think Faulkner meant for himself to be light reading, and boy howdy, he ain't.
     
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  6. Johnkir64

    Johnkir64 TDPRI Member

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    Take it slow. Faulkner is hard to read. His writing style would make an English teacher slit their wrists. Also understand, that Faulkner uses his mythical Yonknapatawpha County, and it’s town in his novels and short stories.
     
  7. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yup. I just reread "Was," and it made sense this time (aside from the title). One of the problems was that he kept saying "he" without saying which "he" he was referring to. Another was that the first section didn't seem to have anything to do with the rest of the story. So I kept thinking maybe the mystery "he" was the guy the first section was about. Which just didn't fit.

    So I was way tres befuddled. Anyhow, I finally caught on the second time around: "He" was the first guy's cousin. I have a feeling there's going to be a very convoluted family tree to work out.

    Grr! Anyhow, getting started on the second story. Yup. Slowly. And probably twice.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2020
  8. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    I liked One Hundred Years, but the only way I could get into it was to forget about distinguishing all the characters with the same names. Turned out it didn't matter.
     
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  9. cnlbb

    cnlbb Tele-Afflicted

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    If you got through what you've said okay you'll be fine. Just go ahead and read a few stories slowly and then start over. It takes a bit to get used to his voice, flow, and style but once it clicks it isn't harder than anything else you've listed.
     
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  10. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's

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    As others have alluded to, there is no steady cadence to reading and really parsing his writing. Read for understanding and you'll speed up and slow down to accommodate that. IMO it's worth it, even when he devolves into his own grammar, syntax, capitalization, and sentence structure. There's plenty of meaning hidden in that.
     
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  11. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    That's what I'm thinking. There are a few tricks up his sleeve, like the sentences that don't start or end.

    Anyhow, this helps. On we go!
     
  12. loco gringo

    loco gringo Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    I love Faulkner, but I can't just pick up a Faulkner book anytime I want to and read it. I have to be ready, suited up so to speak.

    100 Years Of Solitude by Marquez is one of my favorite books. I'm about due to read it again. I'm on a bit of a Donald Harington binge right now. Maybe when this binge is over I'll get back around to it.
     
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  13. scook

    scook Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    It starts making more sense the further into it you get. The first story just throws you into the action, you don’t know what’s going on and who is who, only that Tomey’s Turl is on the run.
    It takes patience and possibly rereading some of it but it’s worth taking the time and effort.
    Faulkner’s style seems to me
    something akin to being thrown out of bed in the middle of the night and waking up someplace unknown. It takes awhile to get your bearings and for it to register.
     
  14. pedro58

    pedro58 Tele-Meister

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    Maybe he's worth the effort to some, but not me. I only read him if I have to, and I'm a high school English teacher.
     
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  15. fenderchamp

    fenderchamp Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Faulkner really makes you pay attention to who he's referring to with his shifty use of pronouns. As I recall Was compounds the necessary effort with involving a fairly complex family structure. Was is the story about Buck and Buddy isn't it, with the dogs running through the cabin... Read it slow, and don't be ashamed to rewind. Go Down Moses is a wonderful set of stories I've read them several times. over many years. You kind of have to read on 'em a bit, until you warm up to the effort.

    It's a great set stories by arguably the best American author to ever write in English language, take your time and enjoy it several times if necessary. One thing that helped me with Faulker, years ago was reading the Portable. It took me a couple of goes to really understand the SATF, Cowley gives you some perspective. But keep at Moses and you should be able to get through it and understand it.

    Sometimes a work by Faulkner is kind of like walking through a house of mirrors, by the end he usually puts all the missing pieces together for you and you can finally figure out what it was you really just saw.
     
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  16. Warren Pederson

    Warren Pederson Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    is there a guide or something to get through the Sound and The Fury?
     
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  17. That Cal Webway

    That Cal Webway Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    You got to ask yourself, was Faulkner on one of his drinking binges when he wrote that??

    If so, it's probably best you drink while you read it.


    -Sinclair Lewis

    .
     
  18. kafka

    kafka Tele-Afflicted

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    Faulker is difficult. I went through a phase where he was all I read. I'm not really sure why. I didn't enjoy it all that much. I don't have any tips. I just slogged through it, and eventually it got easier.
     
  19. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    I get it! I had to read the one about the barnburner who tracks on the carpet. Got assigned it two or three times. Kind of snoozy.

    It does seem like high school English teachers have more latitude these says. For instance, we had to sneak around with our paperback Vonneguts. Now he gets assigned.

    Some of what we had to read really wasn't the right stuff for teens. Like Arrowsmith. Teenagers don't get Lewis's sense of humor. It went right by all of us.
     
  20. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Glad I'm not the only one who had to hack through the pronoun jungle. And not to worry, I'm a shameless rewinder.
     
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