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Old 09-16-2012, 10:34 AM   #1
holymadness
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Faulkner: where to start?

I've recently come into possession of Faulkner's complete works. Embarrassingly, I haven't yet had the chance to read any of his novels. But there are so many; is there a logical starting point? The Snopes trilogy, Absalom, Absalom!, Light in August... they're all reputed to be classics.
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Old 09-16-2012, 04:03 PM   #2
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One logical approach would be to read them in the order they were published.
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Old 09-16-2012, 04:50 PM   #3
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I would suggest starting with some short stories. The Sound and the Fury
is good, but may seem a difficult read to someone new to Faulkner.
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Old 09-16-2012, 05:05 PM   #4
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Check out the short story, "Barn Burning," I believe it's called.

This was later incorporated into part of the Snopes Trilogy.

As far as novels go, a good introduction to Faulkner's style and one that is quite accessible, in my opinion, is "As I Lay Dying."

Let us know what you think.




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Old 09-16-2012, 05:27 PM   #5
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The first Faulkner novel I read was As I Lay Dying. It had a remarkable and immediate impact.

However, the short story "A Rose For Emily" is one of the most haunting and horrible modern Gothic horror stories I have ever read! Absolutely Unforgettable!
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Old 09-16-2012, 06:54 PM   #6
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Thanks, I'll read As I Lay Dying and report back.

Zetmolm: An author's first work is rarely their best, and usually not what establishes their reputation. I tend to avoid them; even my favourite writers' first books are usually disappointing compared to what they later produced.

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Old 09-16-2012, 09:19 PM   #7
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In my opinion, Faulkner wrote two masterpieces: The Sound and the Fury, and As I Lay Dying.

The Sound and the Fury feels like a unintentional masterpiece, meaning I think he came to write it more naturally and more organically than his other books. It's like he was trying to tell one story...but couldn't decide on which way to tell it. He tried one way, from one perspective. Then he tried it again with a completely different point of view. Then he tried it again from someone else's eyes. Finally, he tried to distance himself and tell it from a more godlike perspective and it is this method that really makes this book incredibly powerful.

As I Lay Dying...is probably his most deliberate masterpiece. The alternate points of views in the form of internal monologues used to piece together an engrossing narrative is quite stunning. But it does feel like he actively tried to be great, and, in my mind, achieve the greatness that he sought.

Faulkner's writing is akin to a prose poem, lush and dense as a jungle, dark and mysterious as a person's soul. His use of the language is incredibly powerful and profound. The man could describe the hell out of something. So much that once you read his interpretation of something (drinking water from a cedar bucket, the fall of rain in summer, the smell of a woman's skin, the sense of fatality and time) you can't picture the object of his description in any other way than the way in which it was described. A true mark of a great artist.

Anyway, all this to just say...ENJOY! I envy you the discovery of Faulkner. Makes me want to re-read my Faulkner collection.
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Old 09-19-2012, 07:32 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Drib View Post
Check out the short story, "Barn Burning," I believe it's called.

This was later incorporated into part of the Snopes Trilogy.

As far as novels go, a good introduction to Faulkner's style and one that is quite accessible, in my opinion, is "As I Lay Dying."

Let us know what you think.




Don
Agree with this. Barn Burning is amazing.

The Bear
and A Rose for Emily as well.

Last edited by kennyc; 09-19-2012 at 08:18 AM.
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:03 AM   #9
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After I saw this thread I pulled up my copy of Faulkner's short stories last night - and started with Barn Burning, and kept right on going. Once again I say Wow! Powerful stuff. And quite readable once you get attuned to the Yoknapatawpha idiom. [I love saying that word out loud!]
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:03 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by poohbear_nc View Post
After I saw this thread I pulled up my copy of Faulkner's short stories last night - and started with Barn Burning, and kept right on going. Once again I say Wow! Powerful stuff. And quite readable once you get attuned to the Yoknapatawpha idiom. [I love saying that word out loud!]
I can't even say it in my head.
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:06 PM   #11
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I can't even say it in my head.
I know that one! I can't either.


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Old 09-21-2012, 09:17 PM   #12
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I would suggest starting with some short stories. The Sound and the Fury
is good, but may seem a difficult read to someone new to Faulkner.

Start Sound and the Fury with Part IV then read parts I, II and III....it makes the story much, much easier to comprehend and you will enjoy it more.
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:51 PM   #13
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I started As I Lay Dying. Between the stream of consciousness and the Yoknapatawpha idiom, it's quite a challenging read.
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Old 05-06-2013, 12:45 PM   #14
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I disagree with Hidari, you should certainly read The Sound and The Fury in order; don't start with the last part. And if you enjoy the multiple perspectives, I can also recommend The Alexandria Quartet (Durrell). Both are favorites of mine.
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Old 05-07-2013, 04:17 AM   #15
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I would have said Light in August, but As I Lay Dying is also a great choice. The first chapter of The Sound and the Fury can be a very frustrating puzzle, as there are important pieces missing, and I know of some people never who never returned to Faulkner after starting with that book.
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