Newbie to Faulkner needs some advice...

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Newbie to Faulkner needs some advice...

març 20, 2008, 9:56 pm

Hey all, once I finish reading my current book I'm thinking of trying Faulkner. I pick up his books whenever I find one at a used bookstore, so I have several to choose from.

I'm not looking necessarily for his greatest work, so much as one that may help me ease in to his style. Previously I started The Sound and the Fury and gave up (that was several years ago) and I have read his great short story 'The Barn Burner'.

So that you don't have to go through my library, I've listed what I have already here: The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Sanctuary, Light in August, Absalom, Absalom!, The Unvanquished, The Hamlet, Go Down, Moses, Intruder in the Dust. (I also have his collected and uncollected stories, but want to start with a novel instead.)

I'm thinking of starting with Sanctuary or Light in August as I heard those are fairly accessible.

març 20, 2008, 10:05 pm

For a general reader, a book to begin Faulkner with is The reivers. It gives the ambience, the characters as well as the sense of time and place that is all-important in understanding Faulkner; but unlike most of his better novels, it tells a connected story in traditional narrative style.

Editat: març 20, 2008, 10:22 pm

After you've read and--frankly, I suggest re-read--Reivers, probably your best next choice is Sanctuary. That shows Faulkner's cruelty clearly while giving touches of the nacreous style he later secreted around it. A literary curiosity is No Orchids for Miss Blandish, which seems to have been largely ripped off from Sanctuary and prefigured Chase's later more obvious plagiarism of Raymond Chandler

Editat: març 20, 2008, 10:41 pm

Hey, The Reivers isn't in my list, but I'm pretty sure I bought it. Did I forget to catalog it? I'll have to go check.

març 21, 2008, 4:14 am

The Reivers was Faulkner's last novel, an utterly charming story and a very good book, but Light in August is the one I always recommend to newbies.

març 21, 2008, 9:52 am

I'd suggest As I Lay Dying, though that's purely because it's the first one I read (as part of an English class).

març 21, 2008, 11:03 am

I agree with #6 - As I lay Dying -- although odd, it is haunting and fairly short. I am still a newbie to him myself, but personally if I had started with Light in August, I probably wouldn't have read anymore Faulkner. I just did not like that novel - tedious and absurd.

Editat: març 21, 2008, 11:13 am

Tedious and absurd? How so?

I rank it right behind Absalom, Absalom and The Sound and the Fury.

març 21, 2008, 11:15 am

Here's a third vote for As I Lay Dying. It has all the elements of a typical Faulkner story while more accessible than much of his other work, although I think most of Faulkner's work benefits from at least a second reading. The first immerses you in the characters and atmosphere, the second reading, now that you know the characters pulls the entire work together as you go.

març 22, 2008, 5:16 pm

#8 --re: Light in August I don't want to spoil it for anyone with too much of an answer, but I found the character's actions and emotions to be hyperbolical, bordering on nonsensical. And those internal monologues of the character Hightower are what I most remember as tedious. I did write a more comprehensive review on LT if you're interested.

I haven't read Absalom, Absalom but I did like The Sound and the Fury -- I think that novel is an acquired taste - you gotta read thru it a few times and let it stew in your brain.

Editat: març 23, 2008, 10:25 am

#10 -- I fail to see an hyperbole at all, by any character, and Hightower's interior monologue is anything but tedious, and one of the most, if not the most crucial parts to the story. In fact, I've always thought that Hightower deserved greater scrutiny than peripheral characters like him usually receive.

I've always thought it a stroke of brilliance that through Hightower you can see the deep concern Faulkner had for the South at the time. Hightower, through his own personal epiphany, transcended the curse under which the South was suffering for so long. He experienced an awakening, finally realizing that he had wasted his life by revering an ancestor whose reckless act doomed not only himself but his descendants. By deconstructing his own fabricated myths of the Confederacy he freed himself from the past and, through his own positive actions, could build for the future. One of the things I love about Faulkner is how he presents the South in all its beauty and terror. His characters confront, succumb to, and occasionally transcend their tragic legacy, a trait that is ubiquitous throughout his work. First, though, they must recognize this legacy for what it truly was, as Hightower eventually did.

I couldn't disagree with you more when you say in your review that you could not find the message of "hope" in the novel. I've always seen the "Light" in August as Lena Grove's newly born child. The child is born in August and is the "light" of the new generation, a generation untouched by the racism, prejudice, and hatred of the past. This, combined with Hightower's epiphany (which is the impetus for trying to build a better future), give much reason for optimism. Hightower's epiphany embodied what probably was Faulkner’s prescription for the modern South: awareness, transcendence, and hope.

març 23, 2008, 11:56 am

#10 - Well Sean -- I do not fully discount the possibility that I just don't always understand the meaning of what I am reading, especially when it comes to Faulkner. I understood that Lena's child was supposed to represent the 'light,' the hope - but it just didn't work for me -- I was still bogged down with the violence, racism, etc. And perhaps if I wasn't nodding off during Hightower's parts I would have got what you did out of them! Epiphany? I (?mis)remember the deathbed ravings of a disappointed and deranged old man.

What I really want is to go back and redo college and be a literature major so someone smarter than me can help me get the most out of what I read. All that being said -- I still didn't like Light in August. ;)

març 23, 2008, 2:27 pm

Different strokes, jhowell. If it doesn't work for you I still respect your opinion.

Our disagreement about Light in August just goes to prove what scholars and readers have been saying for years, i.e., Faulkner's books elicit much debate.

març 23, 2008, 7:34 pm

#13 - yes thats what makes Faulkner so interesting -- for some reason I keep going back to him despite my very mixed feelings -- I recently read Selected Short Stories of William Faulkner - the collection with A Rose for Emily in it -- and thought (most of) it breathtaking.

I have Go Down, Moses and Absalom, Absalom on my wish list so someday maybe I'll get to them ...

març 24, 2008, 12:25 am

The first Faulkner novel I read was Absalom, Absalom and it didn't inspire me to take up any others for a while.

Based on this discussion, I think I may pick The Reivers as my re-introduction.

març 28, 2008, 8:57 pm

i second or third or etc recommendations to start with As I Lay Dying...

#15 - i also started with Absalom, Absalom! and hated it and quit a bit into it...a couple years later i had to read As I Lay Dying for a class (by this point i'd formed the opinion that i hated Faulkner) and i was predisposed to not like it, but it blew me away...some years later i went back and tried Absalom, Absalom! again and i guess having matured a bit i completely recanted my previous feelings towards it...(and actually it has one of my absolute favorite endings to a book ever...)

my favorite of his The Sound and the Fury, i wouldn't necessarily recommend that to start with unless you know what you're getting into...but as soon as you've decided you can make it with Faulkner, that's the book i'd suggest reading next...

i haven't read Light in August yet, that's the other one that's super-highly regarded...i assume what people have said about it so far is just as valid...

març 29, 2008, 11:59 am

I've heard some good things about the Snopes trilogy (The Hamlet, The Town, and The Mansion)as well, but being a trilogy it takes a commitment that a newb may not yet have established with Faulkner. Faulkner, like most classic Southern writers is an acquired taste, but like all acquired taste, once acquired it lasts a life time.

As I said before, As I Lay Dying is an interesting, quick read that will introduce you to Falkner country and Faulkner's people in a most accessible fashion. Others of his works are not as accessible, such as The Sound and the Fury, which IMHO requires reading at least twice just to understand it.

març 29, 2008, 5:54 pm

I would start with Sartoris. It sets the stage for almost all the rest of his writings.

You have to absorb some character name changes when you go to The Hamlet, but Sartoris makes a good introduction to the Snopes trilogy of which The Hamlet is the first.

març 30, 2008, 1:45 pm

if you do read want to read Sartoris, read Flags in the Dust instead (as it's the unedited version of the same novel...) i haven't read either yet, but who wants to read the cut book, right? i don't think Sartoris is in print as such anymore anyway, but just in case you'd run across an old copy...

Editat: març 31, 2008, 6:50 am

#19 That is a good point.

It would be an interesting exercise to compare early versions (cut or expanded from) with later versions (uncut or expanded versions) of titles. Sometimes, it is the early (cut?) version that made the literary impact.

My Dad was telling me yesterday that he liked the ending of some Louis L'Amour novellas better than their ending in the expanded novel length.

Ralph Waldo Emerson 's Nature made its impact in an early version, but sometimes it is the later (maybe stodgier) version that some text editors like.

març 31, 2008, 7:59 am

I've always been a fan of Thomas Wolfe's 1929 novel Look Homeward, Angel, which had been heavily abridged by Max Perkins, Wolfe's editor at Scribners, who cut 22% of the original typescript prior to publication. To celebrate the centenary of Wolfe's birth in 2000, the Univ. of S. Carolina Press published the completely restored manuscript under Wolfe's original title O Lost: A Story of the Buried Life, and having read both of them, I find the edited version much more focused, and certainly preferable to the restored version.

abr. 5, 2008, 4:25 pm

I loved The Sound and the Fury but I cheated a bit. I recall reading some plot summaries (eg., Sparknotes and/or Monarch notes). These helped me understand the "character switches" in the dialog. These really throw off someone who is reading the beginning of the book.

abr. 7, 2008, 8:58 pm

#22 - that's the one of the things that makes that book so great! the utter confusion you're immersed in that first time...

abr. 7, 2008, 10:15 pm

Doh! I posted a beautiful and well written response earlier that would have brought tears to the eyes of a reader. But LT crashed and I guess my post wasn't saved.

I tried The Sound and the Fury in the past, but I think Faulkner is a tough nut to crack if you don't have the support of a reading group or a class room. So I'm not looking to start with Faulkner's masterpieces. Just something a little more easily accessible even if it isn't his best book.

Anyhow, looks like based on the recommendations I'll start with As I Lay Dying or The Reivers.

Originally I was thinking of Sanctuary just because I figured if it was Faulkner version of a pot boiler he probably tried to dumb himself down.

Editat: juny 10, 2008, 7:01 am

I'm coming in very late to this discussion, because I somehow hadn't known about this group. As a fan of Faulkner's fiction for 35 years, I have to chime in. I would not recommend anyone to start with Sanctuary. As you say, he did originally write it as a pot boiler, but by the time it was published, he had pretty much scrapped everything and done it all over, so he ended up with a sensational novel, but something much more than pulp fiction. Nevertheless, it isn't the best introduction to his work. Sartoris is an excellent suggestion to begin with, but I have read it in both versions, and I do recommend the original publication. Editors exist for a reason. The Hamlet is also a good choice. It's funny as the dickens. I love The Reivers, and I highly recommend the movie version of that book with Steve McQueen. Although much is changed from the book, it captures the flavor of the story perfectly. If you watch it, it just might help you ease into the literature. I can't say the same for any of the other movies made from Faulkner's books. "The Sound and the Fury", for instance, or "The Long, Hot Summer". Good movies, but wretched adaptations of their sources.
So, tell us, jseger9000, have you actually taken the plunge and tried any of Faulkner yet?

Editat: juny 10, 2008, 8:53 am

I've enjoyed reading all of your Faulkner comments this morning, laytonwoman3rd. Very insightful.

The film, Tomorrow, is an adaptation of a Faulkner short story, although at the moment I have a brain freeze as to which one. The movie stars a young Robert Duvall, who plays a lonely Mississippi farmer. You can check out more information about the film on the Netflix website. I have the DVD but have not got around to watching it yet.

Editat: juny 10, 2008, 10:45 am

Actually, Sean, I had forgotten about "Tomorrow". I must therefore amend my assessment---it is a terrific adaptation. Watch it soon--you'll be impressed. I think the story was called "Tomorrow" as well---and I think it's in the collection Knight's Gambit. If I weren't at work, I'd look to see for sure.

There is a film of "Barn Burning" out there, too, with screenplay written by the late Horton Foote. It's good, too. (Jimmy Faulkner, a nephew, I think, played Major DeSpain in that movie). For a long time both of those films were really hard to find. Netflix does have them both.

Editat: juny 10, 2008, 11:09 am

Thanks for the info, laytonwoman3rd. I'm off to Netflix to track down Barn Burning.

And I believe it was Horton Foote that first adapted Tomorrow into a play before the film starring Duvall.

By the way, I read recently that there was some buzz about The Sound and the Fury being made into a film again.

juny 10, 2008, 11:18 am

What about Cowley's Portable William Faulkner, which orders its selections chronologically in Yoknapatawpha-time rather than by publication date: read before tackling the Yokna. novels, after, along with?

juny 10, 2008, 2:18 pm

Oh yes, excellent suggestion. Cowley is indispensable if you really mean to get serious about reading Faulkner. I'm still inclined to recommend starting with one of the less dense novels, but there's always more than one way to skin a muskrat...

Editat: juny 10, 2008, 3:23 pm

The Portable Faulkner was my introduction to WF back in school, and I'm very fond of it since it opened the door to a world that to this day continues to fascinate me. I still pull it off the shelf from time to time and read from it. Definitely a keeper.

juny 22, 2008, 8:25 pm

i read Absalom,Absalomwhen i was 14-the only thing i gained at the time was a serious respect for LANGUAGE...reread it at age 24, 34, and 44...each time i gained more insight into the story...i guess i am saying..whatever you read...will not offer up its treasures all at gotta go back to the you you grow in life experience...does this make sense at all?

juny 26, 2008, 3:49 pm

#32 Sure it makes sense---means you're a good reader. And that's how I judge a good book--whether it can stand up to that kind of re-assessment over time. Generally, I'd say 14 is too soon for Faulkner; glad to hear you weren't totally put off by reading him at that age.

jul. 3, 2008, 9:41 pm

I am in the middle of reading Flags in the Dust now. I say in the middle but I'm actually more at the beginning. I am having a hard time getting into this book. I normally love Faulkner but I admit this one is difficult. Perhaps I am just not in a stream-of-consciousness mood :o)

ag. 6, 2008, 9:23 am

I started off with The Sound and the Fury. Don't do that. While it was quite enjoyable, and the challenge refreshing, there are other novels of his to ease you in. As I Lay Dying, which I read secondly, had greater symmetry. However, I will strive to read all of Faulkner's works because he forces the reader to greatly focus on his pages.

ag. 6, 2008, 4:35 pm

Get out there, buy and catalog more Faulkner books, people. He's dropped to No. 74 on the Top 75 Authors list. If he falls off that list completely, I will have to go into mourning. I'm doing all I can, but I need help!!!

ag. 6, 2008, 9:28 pm

#36, i'm not sure i'd be so distraught to find Faulkner no longer associated with a list dominated by JK Rowling etc...

ag. 7, 2008, 4:42 pm

No kidding, ateolf. It kills me to see so many people reading Children's sci-fi. LMAO.

ag. 13, 2008, 11:56 am

You make my point, ateolf. I have no quibble with Rowling---she's in my library (and yours, by association, I think.) And I'd say her work is fantasy, not sci-fi, Sancti, if that's what you were referring to. I just like seeing my favorite author in the Top 75, that's all.

des. 28, 2008, 2:54 pm

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des. 28, 2008, 2:55 pm

I don't know my post ended up with all those dots.

des. 29, 2008, 9:32 pm

I am SO glad that there is a discussion on William Faulkner. He is BY FAR my favorite author of all time. I named my bearded dragon lizard after Caddy Compson from The Sound and the Fury. I took a semester course in his writings during my undergraduate.
I think you said that you had his complete/uncomplete short stories? I would start with A Rose for Emily. It is short and very manageable. I also think that it will help you get your feet wet with the kind of Southern Gothic that Faulkner specializes in. I agree with As I Lay Dying as a good starter too. It's not a breeze, but I think you can manage it. Personally, I think that Absalom Absalom is one of the greatest books written in the English language but it is incredibily difficult to get a handle on. Fortunately, it you read around it (like read the Snopes series and someof his short stories) you can get familiar with the characters in Absalom, Absalom and the Sound and the Fury before you actually read them.
Here are some other things that might help (I'm sorry I just adore/worship Faulkner). In order to understand his stories, it's important to understand the family trees of each. Here is a site that lists all of Faulkner's major families and their family trees.

The main site may also be of help

gen. 8, 2009, 2:53 pm

Hi Sorell, I share your passion for Faulkner, as I'm sure do many others here. It'd be nice to get a Faulkner reading group together sometime this year, whereby we could pick some of his works to read and discuss. However, it's been my experience that most reading groups I've been a member of start out fast and then eventually go down in flames.

abr. 23, 2010, 9:03 am

A newbie myself, I started with The Sound and the Fury. I loved it. It was unreal. Then, I moved onward into Light in August, which I found to be a better example of pure storytelling, and all in all a more entertaining read, but it didn't reach the heights I think Fury attained. And also, you have to love how, in the Fury, the prose itself is so rich that it becomes a character in and of itself. That wasn't the case (for me) with August.

feb. 28, 2014, 9:44 pm

I'm just posting to revive this thread, as there was some good discussion here. Thought it might be of interest to some of the 75'ers who have been reading Faulkner in February.

feb. 28, 2014, 9:49 pm

Go Linda!

feb. 28, 2014, 11:02 pm

març 8, 2014, 11:41 am

I'm very new to LT so here goes: I also would like to read Faulkner and just finished Every Day by the Sun: A Memoir of the Faulkners of Mississippi by Dean Faulkner Wells

I read the old posts and will read the ones suggested, thanks for the good information.

març 8, 2014, 6:25 pm

Welcome to LT, Paige. I hope you'll share your thoughts about what you're reading. either here or in the Faulkner group, or perhaps you'll join one of the general reading groups and create your own reading thread.

març 16, 2014, 3:35 pm

laytonwoman3rd...I didn't know there was a Faulkner group???? I just finished As I Lay Dying by Faulkner. I plan to give it a review (haven't done many) but I was very impressed with my very first Faulkner. Needless to say, I was quite surprised by what a good read is was. All in all it was a good novel to start my time with a great author.

març 16, 2014, 8:38 pm

Sorry, I should have posted a link to it when I mentioned it! Here it is. I"m glad you were impressed, and look forward to your review of As I Lay Dying.

abr. 10, 2014, 10:04 pm

Hello! This is my very post here, and like #50, pgturner, I read As I Lay Dying as my first Faulkner, and only recently. Now I'm looking for recommendations for my second Faulkner. I still feel that I'm very much a newbie, and while I loved As I Lay Dying, I'm really not sure where to go from here. (I am not a literary scholar by any means; I haven't even studied English literature at an undergraduate level.) It might seem a silly question, as I've now had an introduction to Faulkner, but I liked the novel so much, and it sounds as though Faulkner can be rather daunting, so I'd really appreciate suggestions.

abr. 10, 2014, 10:27 pm

>52 DBN: Pop over to this thread in the Faulkner Group for lots of good suggestions on what to read next. Once you've broken the ice, and enjoyed one of Faulkner's novels, it isn't terribly important where you go next. His whole opus is more circular than linear. Although the Snopes trilogy -- The Hamlet, The Town and The Mansion -- should probably be read in that order.

abr. 10, 2014, 10:44 pm

Thank you, laytonwoman3rd — I'll do that.

abr. 11, 2014, 1:51 pm

>DBN: Sounds like you and I are alike! After AILD I chose Intruder in the Dust, now I'm back to square one as far as Faulkner is concerned.....sigh...In the very beginning I enjoyed it very much but near the end, it became a chore to finish. Faulkner's style of writing just throws me off as I, like you, "not a literary scholar by any means" nor have I "even studied English literature at an undergraduate level." It makes me think that Faulkner is "over my head" most of the time. I don't know if I should give up or keep plugging. I'm not sure even how to rate Intruder in the Dust as I'm still not clear on many points. I look forward to seeing you here as I'm very new to LT and Faulkner!

abr. 11, 2014, 2:36 pm

Faulkner's style varies from fairly straightforward to very difficult. I think Intruder in the Dust falls at the front end of that spectrum. But he didn't write for scholars. It's always good to remember he was first and foremost telling a story. Sometimes you only "get" it in fragments, and it's better the second (or third!) time. Nobody should feel guilty about setting him aside if he isn't your cup of tea. But his world is a rich and amazing place if you find your way in.

abr. 11, 2014, 10:35 pm

I agree that the first part of Intruder in the Dust was fairly straightforward but the last part was very difficult and confusing for me. I'll admit to being lost and not really sure how the murder/s took place and exactly how it all happened. Maybe I will go back after some time and reread it, especially from the time I became confused. Thanks for your input.

Editat: abr. 15, 2014, 9:42 pm

>pgturner: We do sound alike — it's nice to have a newbie friend here, too. Personally, I think you should keep plugging away at it if you did indeed like AILD; maybe try a different book instead of Intruder in the Dust? After reading the thread that laytonwoman3rd linked above, I think that from here I will read the Snopes trilogy, then move on to Sartoris and the other Yoknapatawpha County novels. I just ordered a bunch of books from the library, so I'll see once they arrive.

>laytonwoman3rd: Thank you for the guidance. Would you recommend Malcolm Cowley's "The Portable Faulkner" or some such edited anthology?

(I can't seem to figure out how to get email alerts for comments or replies, so I apologise for the late responses.)

abr. 15, 2014, 10:41 am

Sartoris is an abridged and severly edited version of Flags in the Dust and is a precursor to the Snopes Trilogy. It kind of sets the scene and introduces some of the families. I haven't read Sartoris, but I have read Flags in the Dust. I have not read any of the trilogy, so I'm just going by what I've read about the relationship between Sartoris, Flags in the Dust, and the trilogy.

Editat: abr. 15, 2014, 11:24 am

>59 geneg: What you say about Sartoris is correct, but possibly misleading. It is the version that was originally published during Faulkner's lifetime; Although he was not happy about it, he was complicit in its editing, in order to get it published at all. Flags in the Dust was not published until 10 years after Faulkner's death, and was "restored" from various manuscripts and typescripts, not including Faulkner's original, which no longer existed. No one really knows that the result is what Faulkner intended. And one of the editors of Flags is on record as saying that "There is no way, finally, to tell which of the many differences between Flags in the Dust and Sartoris were the result of Faulkner's emendations...and which belonged to Wasson {the original editor}". Furthermore, having read them both, I would say that Flags could have done with a little cutting, something much less severe that what resulted in Sartoris, but some, nevertheless.

It is certainly fair to say that this story, whichever version you read, will "set the scene" for the rest of Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County novels, including the trilogy and many others. His entire body of work, with a few exceptions, are set in that locale, which he called his "little postage stamp of soil", and those of us who love him have a very strong urge to relegate the ones that aren't set there to a dusty shelf in the back.

>58 DBN: I would absolutely recommend Malcolm Cowley's anthology; it's excellent.

juny 8, 2014, 7:50 pm

I first read (or tried to read) The Sound and the Fury when I was 13. That didn't work so well and I could never finish it. I didn't read anything else by him until college when I read the Reivers. I later reread the Sound and the Fury and really enjoyed it. At which time I decided to read all of his books.

Well, that was about 4 years ago, and I still haven't made it through all of them. He is really hit or miss for me. Some books are amazing and others are quite terrible. I think Light in August is his best novel and my favorite second only to the Master and Margarita, and yet Mosquitoes is possibly the most boring novel I've ever read.

As for Absalom, Absalom, it took me forever to finish it, maybe I'm a lazy reader, but that book is hard. Ultimately I liked it, but it was a struggle. And I know people really like As I Lay Dying but it wasn't as powerful for me as Light in August or some of his other works.

juny 8, 2014, 8:40 pm

>61 brlb21: It's not surprising that Mosquitoes didn't impress you...Faulkner hadn't hit on his true subject matter yet. He was still serving an "apprenticeship" of sorts with his writing ventures. But good on you for reading it anyway! I'm glad reading him first at 13 didn't put you off his work forever....I do think that's a bit young to appreciate him.

Editat: jul. 21, 2022, 11:40 am

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set. 9, 2018, 5:15 pm

>63 frahealee: It's always exciting to find someone eager to experience Faulkner for the first time. Setting is certainly central to his work, but I think you will find his characters rich and his plots...well...interesting to say the least. I have never made an alphabetical list of his work, so if you're combining short stories with his novels (there are at least 18 of the latter, by my quick count, although some of his "novels" are arguably more grouping of short stories) in making that list, I have no idea where you will begin. But with the novels there are pitfalls to that approach. His Snopes trilogy really ought to be read in order, and Absalom, Absalom! should not be one of the first things you read. Having said all that, I'll be curious to see what you do choose to start with, and what you think of it. Please post again.

Editat: set. 10, 2018, 5:08 pm

Maybe Light in August? It's one of his key major works but is relatively straightforward in style compared to the other major works, such as Absalom, Absalom, The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying...

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Editat: set. 10, 2018, 8:25 pm

>66 frahealee: I think The Hamlet (although it is one of those composed at least partly of bits that had previously been published as short stories) is superior to the other two novels in the trilogy. I love them all--I've had a 48-year-long love affair with Faulkner' work (I underestimated that a bit in >25 laytonwoman3rd: above, which was posted over 10 years ago now). But I can rank them. I think As I Lay Dying is one of his less appealing, but most widely promoted works...still, if you can appreciate his black humor in that one, you just might want to read everything. If you're having a good time with Absalom, Absalom!, then just ignore me---you don't need advice (and actually didn't ask for any, I know!). I don't want to put obligation on you when you're reading my favorite author for fun (blessings on you for that!), but I really am interested in your thoughts.

Editat: set. 10, 2018, 8:19 pm

>66 frahealee: Although Hamlet, Town, Mansion are part of one 'trilogy', The Hamlet was written while he was at the peak of his powers where the other two were added in his later years.

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Editat: set. 11, 2018, 10:42 pm

I'll post a few links to other places on LT where there has been some good discussion of Faulkner in the past. You can look at them if and when the time seems right to you. And there are some terrific reviews of his work posted here, of course.

Some thoughts on the order of reading Faulkner's work.

A whole thread of discussion, from the 2014 Faulkner month in that year's American Author's Challenge

One of my earliest threads on LT, where kambrogi and I had some back-and-forth on the subject of loving Faulkner

Editat: set. 12, 2018, 10:17 am

I've been lurking and enjoying the renewed conversation here. I'm not imminently reading any Faulkner, but I recently purchased one of the Library of America omnibuses so I'm nosing about, preparing the Earth, so to speak. I read Absalom, Absalom as a teen, and while I have a generally favourable memory of reading and finishing it, I don't recall any details at all. I think my impression is mostly pride that a teacher suggested the title specifically for me, I knew it was not a typical assignment and I appreciated that, to be sure.

Editat: jul. 21, 2022, 11:39 am

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set. 12, 2018, 10:20 am

Posting on LT is also a tactic I use to "commit" myself! The literary conversation on LT is really unequaled, for me in any case. Not just breadth of topics, but getting into details like this thread. I fancy I'd love to frequent a literary salon, but LT is so much more compatible with my schedule ....

set. 12, 2018, 3:37 pm

>71 elenchus: Glad you popped out of hiding! I love those Library of American volumes. So let me share a little story with you. A few years back, one of our fellowship here was reading Faulkner for the first time, and caught on from visiting my reading threads that I'm a bit obsessive on the subject. He asked me to "tutor" him as he read through as much of the ouevre as he could manage. We had wonderful conversations (and he really didn't need a tutor -- about all I did for him was to recommend a good way in and tell him to look for the humor, which I think many people miss). He had been a charter subscriber to the Library of America, so owned everything published in the series, and continued to receive new volumes regularly as they came out. His health was not good, and there came a time when he knew he would not be reading among us much longer. He asked me if I would accept his LOA collection as a legacy when he no longer could use it. When he passed away, early in 2012, his wife packed up over 200 books and shipped them to me as he had requested. This is the kind of friendships Library Thing has fostered over the years. It is a literary salon, to my way of thinking.

set. 12, 2018, 3:44 pm

That's a great story, both the Faulknerama prior to his demise and his legacy. I'm also an LOA subscriber, and in fact received the Faulkner without having listed it among my requested titles. I considered returning it (LOA is great about that), and in part from various comments and threads here on LT, re-considered.

LT absolutely can be a literary salon. The asynchronous dialogue has its advantages and disadvantages, but on balance I'm getting a literary enculturation here that I simply can't seem to get elsewhere.

So I must ask: what LOA volume have you read that became an unexpected discovery for you? Maybe none has, thus far. But I think it likely you've found something.

Editat: set. 12, 2018, 3:50 pm

>72 frahealee: It's interesting you mention "humor in misery" in connection with Steinbeck and Faulkner. I first read Steinbeck in junior high school. It was totally voluntary. There was a volume of his short novels on our book shelf at home, and I remember reading through it relentlessly one summer, on our upstairs porch. The next school year, we were required to read The Pearl for English class, and Of Mice and Men followed. I already knew and loved his work, and it taught me that "required reading" could be wonderful. He is great preparation for Faulkner, I think. More straightforward, but similarly inclined in his outlook on the human condition. I have always promoted Faulkner's humor, and I have had people look at me as if I were looney. I had a copy of one of his novels on my desk at work years ago, and my boss asked me why I wanted to read such "dark stuff" for recreation. I tried to put him straight, but his prep school/Ivy League education apparently left out the best bits.

Here's another post of mine that I resurrected, concerning the "way in":

"I hate to see people dismiss Faulkner because they think he is too difficult or too dark. Although his works are marvelously intertwined (many characters and families appear and reappear, from one book to another), there isn't much reading chronology that is essential. The Hamlet, The Town and The Mansion are considered a trilogy, and do follow a reasonably straight time line, so those three should be read in that order. (You can find them collected in one volume under the title Snopes, which is how Faulkner originally envisioned them, although they were written and published over a long stretch of time.) I also think you should read Absalom, Absalom! before reading The Sound and the Fury. In fact, I'll be a bit of a heretic and say I don't think anyone should feel guilty about leaving The Sound and the Fury off their list if they find it frustrating or intimidating. It was an experimental work, and it's a shame so many readers encounter it first, usually in some literature course, and ever thereafter feel Faulkner is too much trouble. The same is true of As I Lay Dying, which is another one often "taught" as an introduction to Faulkner. It gets pretty weird in parts. If you read any or all of the three I suggested as starters*, and you enjoy the experience, you'll be ready to make your own choices as to how to carry on."

* The three I recommended were The Hamlet, Intruder in the Dust and The Unvanquished.

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oct. 19, 2018, 10:32 am

Contrasting >79 frahealee: There is zero enjoyment factor currently, merely accomplishment.

with >80 frahealee: IITD was shorter, but the plot was fine, good characters, and my guess at the ending was accurate (thus satisfied).

Did your experience change at all from "zero enjoyment"?

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oct. 19, 2018, 11:30 am

>82 frahealee: If you like the young person point of view, you should enjoy Faulkner's The Reivers when you get to it. (Notice I did not say "if" you get to it!) It's his last novel, less convoluted than some, and I guess you would say it's his take on a coming-of-age story.

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oct. 19, 2018, 3:02 pm

Neither of the Long Hot Summer films bears much of any resemblance to the Faulkner story they are meant to be taken from. Doesn't mean it isn't fun to watch Paul Newman or Don Johnson steamin' up the screen.