Readers: Anyone Ever Tackled Faulkner?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by P Thought, Dec 11, 2019.

  1. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I'm paused in the middle of the longest paragraph I've noticed so far, looking back and ahead I see it's about 3 1/2 pages long, and wondering if I'm the only person in the world who finds William Faulkner very hard to read, and at the same time really good. While I was in high school, prompted I think by the fact there was a new movie out starring Steve McQueen, I tried to read The Reivers. I don't remember how far I got, but I do remember being unable to finish, and for a long time I avoided reading Faulkner again; I made it through high school and college without having to. After I became a high-school English teacher I read As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury, since I'd seen them on other teachers' classroom lists, and that led me to read a couple others, Sartoris stories that I've forgotten the titles of. In the course of that I became aware of Faulkner's creation, Yoknapatawpha County, and also aware that his books were connected to each other by sharing that setting and many of the characters attached to it. AILD and TSATF seemed easier than his other books--I'm sure that's why they're the ones most often chosen for classes--and the Sartoris stories are kind of in between the poles of difficulty, but still I found Faulkner hard to follow. My current effort so far is two of his novels--I'm almost finished with the second one--contained in a volume from The Library of America, Go Down, Moses and Intruder in the Dust. Over the years I've become very fond of southern writers: Mark Twain, Thomas Wolfe, Flannery O'Connor, Pat Conroy, Fannie Flagg and others I can't think of right now. The language and its cadences. . .you can hear the southern drawl, the gentle sheathed-steel tone of voice. I love reading William Faulkner, too, he's like sippin' whiskey to me, but man, he kicks my butt. Have any of you read him? Which books? What do you have to say about him?
     
  2. westofthesun

    westofthesun TDPRI Member

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    I've managed to make my way through both As I Lay Dying and The Sound and The Fury, and I'm currently waiting for a copy of Light in August to arrive in the mail as I was invested enough in his work after reading the first two to continue. I agree that with his disjointed, stream-of-consciousness style he can at times be difficult to read. It's easy to get lost in some of his ramblings but to me that's part of the beauty of his writing. The atmosphere he creates is almost dream-like, which is something only a few other authors I've read have been able to achieve (Haruki Murakami being the first that comes to mind).
     
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  3. Dan German

    Dan German Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Funny you should ask; I hadn’t read any in years, but I just started in on Faulkner last week. It was hard to start, but once in the swing of it, I enjoy it a lot. It is definitely not for times when there is potential for interruption. Ya gotta be able to ride the wave.
     
  4. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I recently finished The Reivers and liked it very much.
    The jacket notes said it's comedic, and stuff I read about it said it sucks the hind teat of the Faulkner oevre, but I liked it a lot. I was worried about stereotypes of wacky "darkies" and quirky "ladies of the evening" but then, after the book got rolling, these people were not only treated with the utmost respect, but the subjects of racism and sexual slavery were treated with sympathy and nuance. Now I have to go back to The Sound... and read Absalom for the first time.
    But...you know what? It's rare that I need a dictionary at my side these days! And some passages I needed to read several times to figure out what just happened.
    I'm not sure what that is...not really stream of consciousness...somewhat idiomatic...I just think Faulkner had a style and thought process that's difficult.
    Like we're privy to HIS thoughts...he knew what he was thinking, but it may be inscrutable to others...or ME, at least.
    I had forgotten what a unique writer he was. My University days ended some 36 years ago.
     
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  5. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I read The Sound and The Fury years ago and another novel, maybe Absalom, Absalom! - it's been a while.

    Speaking of long paragraphs (and stream of consciousness writing) I've been eying the contemporary novel, Ducks Newburyport. Isn't it suppose to be a 1,000 page long sentence?

    Anyhowdy, I decided to read living authors and not revisit old stuff I've already read, or read around. Plus, I concentrate on Canadian authors.
     
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  6. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I find Faulkner to be child's play, next to Salman and Joyce.

    I've been reading all this other civics "stuff" and haven't found the time, lately. Faulkner really does capture a lot of the essence of the South, in his presentation. Just as I have songs and lyrics enter my conscious brain unannounced, so I get some sequences from various Faulkner novels just presenting themselves to me - some big ole memory bank I can access sometimes and sometimes not. Nobody departs from reading William Faulkner with a less clear understanding of the human species, than they had before. He may not be the most brilliant writer, but there's a foundational aspect to his writings I think has great value.
     
  7. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

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    I read a few short stories in college, the only title I recall is A Rose For Emily, although I don't really remember much of the story. Off your subject, but an author I found pretty dense but VERY enjoyable is Thomas Hardy. I saw the film Far From The Madding Crowd in high school (late sixties) and later wrote a research paper on the fatalism of Thomas Hardy. Then I started reading other books (Jude the Obscure, Tess of the D'Ubervilles, Mayor of Casterbridge, maybe a couple others) just for pleasure. Sorry to get off-track.....;)
     
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  8. Snfoilhat

    Snfoilhat Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm a lifelong reader but my adolescent rebellion manifested in an unwillingness to read 'classics' with a few arbitrary exceptions :rolleyes:

    So punk.

    I remember giving the sound and the fury a look and finding the language of the first 2-3 pages impenetrable and putting it down.

    Is it good? :D
     
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  9. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    i've read some Faulkner, but I have the same difficulties. I read sound and fury, but here in public I will admit that I read about 10 - 15 pages of the idiot man child section, then skipped ahead to the rest of the book. it was quite good. I tried to read various of his other novels but didn't get very far with them. I remember starting light in august and sanctuary and as I lay dying. but I didn't finish them. I do not know whether to attribute his overwrought style to genius or the massive amount of whiskey the man drank. I read a bunch of his short stories, they are usually much easier to read.

    you mentioned Flannery O'Conner. I believe I have read every word she ever published, including a book of her letters to friends. I cannot really identify a theme in Faulkner's work, I haven't read enough of it. in Flannery, the theme is almost always Pride. human beings are full of foolish pride and they need a self confrontation to be free of it or grow beyond it. I can relate to that. I would really like to have met her. and Faulkner, too.

    I have been to Faulkner's house in holly springs (or is it oxford?). you can look in the window and see where he wrote something on the wall.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2019
  10. nvilletele

    nvilletele Friend of Leo's

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    Yes, I have tried tackling Faulkner.

    He broke the tackle and sped away.

    Never saw him again after that.
     
  11. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

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    My grandfather's family is all from Oxford, MS (actually Taylor, MS) and knew Mr. Faulkner. My great grandfather went fox hunting with him some. I went to Ole Miss and took a Faulkner class there, where we read almost all his novels. Despite the fact that I am from Mississippi and that he wrote where my great-grandfather and grandfather's family lived (and where I lived during college), I do not enjoy Faulkner's novels on the whole, and I've never really found his imaginary of the South to be all that compelling. As an English major from Ole Miss, I'm sure I'm not "supposed" to say that, but that's what I think. I do recall really enjoying Light in August, though. I thought it was beautiful. Most of Faulkner's writing doesn't strike me that way. I tend to find Walker Percy's or Flannery O'Connor's imaginary of the South more compelling, though of course each of these authors is doing something different.
     
  12. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    It's better to get a run at it.

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's

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    Faulkner can be real work. When he abandons convention, so must the reader. BTW you aren’t docked any points and there’s no time limit on rereading a passage ‘till it makes sense.
     
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  14. drlucky

    drlucky Tele-Holic

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    A Rose For Emily was my introduction to Faulkner my first year of college. Loved it. Next year I had to read As I Lay Dying. Could not make heads or tails of it at the time. Pretty much soured me on his novels, though I did love his short stories.

    Maybe now that I'm an old man I need to give AILD another whirl...:eek:
     
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  15. Skydog1010

    Skydog1010 Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

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    Love his writing, especially the parts I have to dig into, but that is just me.
    I'm also an avid reader of John Keats and Percy Shelley, and Wordsworth is a standout too.

    Novelist Earnest Hemingway I immensely enjoy, I have been a Hemingway fan since I learned to read.
     
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  16. Guitarzan

    Guitarzan Poster Extraordinaire

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    I don't like Faulkner's work. I had to read As I Lay Dying in AP English in high school and I hated it along with the rest of the class. I believe the teacher stopped using it after we fussed about it so much. We went beyond the book to the author, genre, contemporaries, criticisms, etc., and I recall that Faulkner admitted that he wrote that book in a push because he needed the money.

    I tried to read The Sound And The Fury but just could not dig the prose.

    Faulkner's prose is not as bad as the gibberish McCarthy chose to use in Blood Meridian, but I still detest it.
     
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  17. GoldDeluxe5E3

    GoldDeluxe5E3 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Longest paragraph at 3.5 pages? Faulkner wrote SENTENCES that long. My guess is that he's expressing the ruminations of a stressed-out intellect, both his character's and his own.

    I found Faulkner's writing style to be eccentric and an imposition on readers. I thought it was so bad, in fact, that I figured even I could write a novel, which I proceeded to do. I credit Faulkner with giving my flabby prose cover; an excuse for existing.

    When criticized, I can always say, "well look at the crap Faulkner wrote".
     
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  18. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I am surprised, but by now I shouldn't be, by the number of replies on TDPRI where a forum member is trying to (re)read a book from high school. There are other books out there, you know.
     
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  19. Mr Ridesglide

    Mr Ridesglide Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Naw, musn't be surprised, after all look at how we drool over a 50-65 year old guitar or amp around here....
     
  20. Dan German

    Dan German Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I didn’t read any of his books in high school. I read them on my own time while I was in high school. And now, I’m reading the ones I missed, so they might as well be new books (which I also read).
     
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