My annual read of Faulkner and it's the best one yet. The prose is superb and Faulkner makes full use of his mastery of stream-of-consciousness, as a result of which it was joy to read.
Amazon sums it up well :
A landmark in American fiction, Light in August explores Faulkner's central theme: the nature of evil. Joe Christmas - a man doomed, of questionable race (change mine) and alone - wanders the Deep South in search of an identity, and a place in society. After killing his perverted God-fearing lover, it becomes inevitable that he is pursued by a lynch-hungry mob. Yet after the sacrifice, there is new life, a determined ray of light in Faulkner's complex and tragic world.
Requiem for a Nun is the sequel to Faulkner's early novel Sanctuary, and has the same main characters i.e. Temple Drake, Gowan Stevens, Gavin Stevens. The events in Requiem are set in Faulkner's fictional Yoknapatawpha County and Jackson, Mississippi, in November 1937 and March 1938, eight years after the events of Sanctuary. Temple and Gowan are now married with two children (one, however, is dead) and Temple's violent past comes back to haunt her. The nun of the title is Temple's nanny, an ex prostitute that she met whilst working as a prostitute, accused and convicted of killing her baby and is about to be hung. Apparently Elizabethan era-slang for a prostitute is nun and its contemporary meaning is of a woman who sacrifices herself to save sinners, which is what happens in the novel.
Faulkner's text is - of course - suitably challenging. The book is part prose and part play. The chapters being interspersed. The prose chapters consist of unending sentences but are broken into sections, which is interesting, and these chapters tell the history of Faulkner's fictional Yoknapatawpha County and Jackson, Mississippi. Each prose chapter details the history of a particular institution, like the jail, in which the play like dialogue takes place.
As always, Faulkner is superb and the book is thoroughly fascinating. Although the reader has to work hard to understand what he's written it's well worth the struggle. This is his most obscure book yet.
This is the fourth novel in the series Sin and Salvation and was written in 1931. It's also Faulkner's most controversial novel since it deals with rape, abduction and what is considered to be evil.
The book is not written in the stream of consciousness device but that does not make it an easy book to read. The reader needs to work hard to figure out what is going on as Faulkner's prose, though delicious, is vague. Fortunately, Faulkner does not go into detail at the time the rape takes place, indeed, the reader is left wondering if rape or sexual abuse did happen. He does go into detail about what happened nearer the end of the book and it is really shocking, even in this day and age (I can't imagine what a 1930's readership though of it ).
The story centres around the high society, rich and spoiled Temple Drake (female) who runs away from school with an unsuitable man and gets into the clutches of a quite clearly psychopathic male character known only as Popeye. They are not concentrated on all of the time, Faulkner likes to make his opinion known of this type of society - the deep south - so does introduce other characters who are not at all pleasant and their stories. The book pulls everything together at the end and Popeye does get what's coming to him but it's not a contrived ending.
There is a lot to this book and it requires a great deal of effort to get at it but it's worth it in the end. I would recommend this book but be aware that it deals with controversial themes like rape/sexual abuse/kidnapping/brothels and murder
I'm currently reading and enjoying Bloodsucking Fiends, but have decided that my next book will be Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner if anyone wants to join me. If you do, then we can handle it the way Dan and I did Angle of Repose or the way many of us did on The Sound and the Fury. If no one else reads, I'll just post a review at the end.
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner is the story of a very poor white (I thought that they were black!) farming family and their journey to bury their mother/wife.
It's the third in the Sin and Salvation series and it's the companion book to The Sound and the Fury.
It is written in stream of consciousness so isn't an easy read (it IS absolutely fascinating!) but is very much worth the effort. It's a towering work.
The book is divided up into sections of varying lengths, each one being narrated by a different character. That way the reader gets to know each character as the book progresses and the reader does get to see each incident from a different point of view. The timeline - and by that I mean the order in which the events take place - is mostly linear i.e. most of the time the action moves forward in time so not too much jumping backwards and forwards in time which makes it easier to follow.
In a nutshell, the book opens with Addie Bundren (mother and wife) very close to death and continues with her family's attempt to take her body to a town 40 miles away in order to bury her and the reason for same. Like The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying is a description of the degeneration of a family, this time a very poor one.
It's set in Faulkner's favourite and fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi and does feature some characters that have been described in previous books and will be used in future books. This was one of Faulkner's techniques.
Faulkner was always keen to deal with difficult subjects and there are many of those in this book. Some are positively tragic, others are just sad but there are occasions where it's not too dire. The gradual unfolding of the the story and the characters is masterful and makes the reader think (which I enjoy). The narration of the characters makes it feel like the author is not involved at all but Faulkner's voice is loud and clear - contradictory although that sounds. Even if the reader has no idea what the story is about (and I like that too) s/he can hear Faulkner's voice throughout from what feels like a very long way off and the overall message of the book is clear.
I absolutely adored reading this book and will read it again. I found it a lot more sad than The Sound and the Fury even although it's the story of someone who is close to death and of their funereal journey to another town. The characters resonated with me and the whole situation just felt as if it could actually be true.
Highly recommended, it's worth the effort - really it is.