The most difficult Faulkner novels

KeskusteluWilliam Faulkner and his Literary Kin

Liity LibraryThingin jäseneksi, niin voit kirjoittaa viestin.

The most difficult Faulkner novels

helmikuu 18, 2011, 6:31 pm

What do people think are the most difficult novels of his to read? Both for newcomers to Faulkner and for those accustomed to his style?

helmikuu 18, 2011, 7:08 pm

Absalom, Absalom! is sort of...indisputably the most difficult, I think. At least on the level of modernist-style density. I found Sanctuary hard to read just because the story is so bleak and the characters so unpleasant. Sound/Fury is hard, but it's hard in the same way Absalom is, only less so. As I Lay Dying is a relative piece of cake. The Unvanquished is "hard" in that, more so than any of his other novels (if you want to think of Unvanquished as a novel), you need to have read a lot of his other stuff to totally understand the import of what's happening, since it's a kind of Yoknapatawpha prequel. Light in August is pretty straightforward, except for the little issue of--what the hell is Lena Grove doing in that book? She's a major character, but her narrative has always seemed completely out of place to me.

I've read 10 or so Faulkner novels, and that's what springs to my mind.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 19, 2011, 4:08 pm

I think the most difficult must be Absalom, Absalom!. As I write this, I'm trudging through Chapter Four. Even assuming you the reader know what's going on at this point (which is a big assumption), typical in this chapter are sentences like this one (seriously, this is the sentence I was reading when I came to LT for a break):
Oh he was shrewd, this man whom for weeks now Henry was realizing that he knew less and less, this stranger immersed and oblivious now in the formal, almost ritual, preparations for the visit, finicking almost like a woman over the fit of a new coat which he would have ordered for Henry, forced Henry to accept for this occasion, by means of which the entire impression which Henry was to receive from the visit would be established before they even left the house, before Henry ever saw the woman: and Henry, the countryman, the bewildered, with the subtle tide already setting beneath him toward the point where he must either betray himself and his entire upbringing and thinking, or deny the friend for whom he had already repudiated home and kin and all; the bewildered, the (for the time) helpless, who wanted to believe yet did not see how he could, being carried by the friend, the mentor, through one of those inscrutable and curiously lifeless doorways like that before which he had seen the horse or the trap, and so into a place which to his pruitan's provincial mind all of morality was upside down and all of honor perished--a place created for and by voluptuousness, the abashless and unabashed senses, and the country boy with his simple and erstwhile untroubled code in which females were ladies or whores or slaves looked at the apotheosis of two doomed races presided over by its own victim--a woman with a face like a tragic magnolia, the eternal female, the eternal Who-suffers; the child, the boy, sleeping in silk and lace to be sure yet complete chattel of him who, begging him, owned him body and sould to sell (if he chose) like a calf or puppy or sheep; and the mentor watching again, perhaps even the gambler now thinking Have I won or lost? as they emerged and returned to Bon's rooms, for that while impotent even with talk, shrewdness, no longer counting upon that puritan character which must show neither surprise nor despair, having to count now (if on anything) on the corruption itself, the love; he could not even say, 'Well? What do you say about it?'
The sentence only has a period there because of the quotation--it goes on, but you get the idea.

Oh, and P.S. All of this comes out of the mouth of Mr. Compson, who didn't know any of these people except what he had heard about the second- or third-hand, and besides that, he's a notoriously unreliable narrator. Oh the insanity! But it's a great book, just the same!

helmikuu 19, 2011, 3:29 pm

>3 labwriter: beats Henry James.

helmikuu 20, 2011, 12:20 pm

But Henry James is a better writer.

helmikuu 20, 2011, 1:15 pm

3> makes me dizzy (in a good way!)

Äänestys: Is Henry James a better writer than William Faulkner

Äänet tällä hetkellä: Kyllä 4, Ei 24, Epävarma 2

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 20, 2011, 1:47 pm

There is no really difficult Faulkner. If you find any difficulty in deciphering it, try reading it aloud or listening in audiobook. The sentances are sometimes confusing when read silently, but they fall out pretty clearly when you actually listen to them. The example above fits that description. It's really not that hard, and quite beautiful when you slow down and read it through aloud.

Faulkner IS hard to rush through. Very hard. Don't rush!

helmikuu 20, 2011, 8:58 pm

I want to vote twice in the dictator's poll, once yes and once no, but I can't.


Muokkaaja: helmikuu 21, 2011, 10:42 am

>7 A_musing:. There is no really difficult Faulkner. If you find any difficulty in deciphering it,

I'm not confused by the literal words on the page. However, if someone is reading Faulkner "literally" (at least true for Absalom, Absalom!), then they pretty much don't have a prayer of understanding what's going on due at least in part to various levels of unreliability of the narrators.

If you don't like the word "difficult," then how about laborious, demanding, involved, tricky, complex. . . .

helmikuu 21, 2011, 10:49 am

Well, under that approach, all of Faulkner is difficult ....

I'd argue against laborious, reluctantly endorse demanding and involved, question tricky, and positively cheer on complex....

There are times I'd give you "tortuous" as well...

helmikuu 21, 2011, 12:37 pm

helmikuu 21, 2011, 1:33 pm

I found As I Lay Dying a challenge, not so much the writing, which isn't that tough, compared to Absalom, Absalom The trouble was keeping the characters straight -- and their Tolkien-ishly weird names. Luckily I have a Faulkner A to Z around, since that makes it easier to figure out the gender and family relations of the characters.

Wild Palms was a lot easier. I found Sanctuary tough going, but I read both that and As I Lay Dying when I was rather young and inexperienced as a reader.

helmikuu 27, 2011, 8:40 am

I'm still chewing my way through Absalom, Absalom!. I'm just starting Chapt. 8 (out of nine chapters). I really love this book, although at times it's a love/hate thing. I post about my reading on my own thread at the 75 group.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 27, 2011, 12:14 pm

I first read Absalom, Absalom! in college, with a professor who was great fun, and who appreciated Faulkner, but did not take him too seriously. His approach had the benefit of removing all the fear and intimidation from my approach. RIP, Little Bobby Byington (as he called himself!) You done good. Absalom, Absalom! remains my favorite of Faulkner's novels, but it is also the one I consider the most difficult, and without the benefit of a guide like Dr. Byington, I wouldn't recommend it as anyone's first taste of the man's work. I believe it is more demanding and more rewarding than S&F, but I think the latter's reputation prevents many people from getting to Absalom at all. I must admit, however, that I have been utterly stymied by A Fable; not necessarily because it's difficult to read, although I did find it so, but because I'm not particularly drawn to the subject matter and setting. I want to prowl around Yoknapatawpha County---not so much the battlefields of WWI. If anyone has read A Fable and wants to make a case for it, I would sho'nuff welcome encouragement.

maaliskuu 2, 2011, 3:01 pm

That is how I finally got into Absalom, Absalom. It worked like a charm- read it aloud. Sadly, I then ceased, read silently, read too fast, and now I must go back and reread it from the beginning. It really doesn't mesh with a fast read. I lost threads of whose voice was whose. With the layering effect of each narrator telling a slightly different story, it wasn't wise for me to hurry along.

But I'm a book pig with addictive tendencies, and it's difficult for me to put a book down and mentally digest what I've read before continuing.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 2, 2011, 3:33 pm

I'm a book pig with addictive tendencies I think that describes a lot of us on LT, at least from time to time! Welcome to the group, by the way. See, we'll take anybody! ;>)
ETA: I really meant to say, up there in #14, that I agree with the suggestion to read Faulkner out loud, or listen to somebody else do it (the latter has the advantage that someone else has done the hard part for you, by figuring out the phrasing.)

maaliskuu 2, 2011, 5:14 pm

>15 deserthorse:. Read Absalom out loud--that's a great strategy, and I absolutely agree, since it has the affect you point out of requiring you to slow down. Great suggestion. I would have to read it out loud myself, since I'm not an auditory learner; I would need to see the words for myself for them to penetrate my brain.

maaliskuu 3, 2011, 10:50 am

A couple more writers one should read slowly are Marcel Proust and Henry James, both influenced Faulkner's writing one way or another.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 3, 2011, 1:50 pm

>18 kswolff: I've periodically thought I might someday tackle Remembrance Of Things Past by Proust, but, ah, never have. Henry James: I must profess profound ignorance. I've heard his name as a writer, but am unfamiliar with anything he's written, nor do I know anyone who has ever said to me, "James is a must-read." This probably points out my sadly lacking education, but it's true.

maaliskuu 3, 2011, 1:49 pm

>17 labwriter: As am I. I was reading Absalom aloud to myself, even though my family thought this stranger than usual for me. But I got caught up in it. I'll try it again, but not right now. The time has to be right.

maaliskuu 3, 2011, 2:16 pm

Welcome, deserthorse. Glad to see you found the premier group on LT on your second day here! If you browse around long enough, you'll find someone here to tell you "So-and-so is a must-read" about almost any author who ever published. There are a number of James fans here; I'm not counting myself among them, but I continue to think I must be missing something.

maaliskuu 3, 2011, 3:36 pm

>19 deserthorse: Well, hush my mouth. I read Daisy Miller ages ago, and don't remember a thing about it. I actually had to Wikipedia Henry James to jog my aberrant memory. I should read Turn Of THe Screw because if I like any of his work, it would be the likeliest one, perhaps. As to why I know I read Daisy Miller but have no recollection of its particulars, ? Perhaps I read some sort of excerpt? Or was supposed to read it, but in actuality, did not.

maaliskuu 3, 2011, 6:23 pm

For the first intro to Henry James I would read something that is more illustrative of his style and abilities such as The Bostonians, The Portrait of a Lady, or The Princess Casamassima, or The Reverberator, even Washington Square. Stay away from his last works: The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors, and The Golden Bowl. Most people just aren't literate enough for those. That's not a knock on most people. It just means that James, toward the end of his life, was writing for perfection in complexity for himself, a pointillist with words. Most people just aren't tuned in to writing in such a style. For the true Jamesian, though, those latter works are the holy grail of writing in the English language.

As it turns out, my least favorite of all the Henry James I have read is Turn of the Screw. I must re-read Daisy Miller. I don't remember much about it, either.

One more thing about James: it takes him at least 350 - 500 pages of denser than average prose to tell a good story. In his early career one of his goals was to write translucent prose. At the end of his career he was writing dense, symbolic prose. His prose seems to grow denser as one follows his career.

Now, back to Billy boy. I'm in the process of reading Flags in the Dust as a prelude to the Snopes trilogy: The Hamlet, The Town, and The Mansion. Something of this sort could be intriguing to the Faulkner Neophyte. His third novel, one mid-career, and two toward the end. Follow where he goes, then branch out from there.

I think one of his most conventional, easy to read books is Pylon, which was made into the movie "The Tarnished Angels" with a writing credit to one William Faulkner.

maaliskuu 10, 2011, 9:48 am

I think I agree that the Fable is the least approachable, for the reasons Laytonwoman gave. It is disconcerting to have Faulkner's diction on the WWI battlefield, describing a Christ figure. I had a hard time getting over and through that. It is however quite memorable. Preserved on the wall of his study in Oxford are his handwritten/drawn diagrams of how the time line played out. Pretty amazing to see.

I do think the most approachable books are the Snopes trilogy, because they have so many appealing elements - great humor, romantic passion, truly wicked villans, fine tormented hero and two generations of tormented heroines. And the stories are told in a relatively straightforward manner.

heinäkuu 12, 2011, 8:27 am

James IS a must read. :) I'd recommend starting with Washington Square or, my favorite, the unique and brilliant What Maisie Knew. I disagree about steering clear of late James, too; it's not the way to start him, for sure, but having read both The Ambassadors and The Wings of the Dove recently, I found that once my desire to read them was consummate with what they demand of the reader, they really weren't difficult. Rather a bit less so even than the Benjy section of The Sound & The Fury, to bring this back around to Faulkner.

I was afraid of Faulkner for years, thinking he'd be too difficult to read for pleasure -- and since I finished college I've only read for pleasure -- but having finally decided to give him a real try, I'm now on a tear. I KNOW I don't always get everything out of reading him -- I read too fast, for one thing -- but in a way I feel like the first reading lays the ground work for rereading, which in the case of Faulkner's great work, will constitute the REAL reading. Some writers -- James too -- are like that. You haven't really read them until you've read them at least twice.

heinäkuu 12, 2011, 8:40 am

I'm glad to hear you compare reading James to reading Faulkner, NancyKay. You've confirmed my suspicion that, even though I haven't yet had a good experience with James, I should not give up. As I've passionately urged others to approach Faulkner from the right direction, I will take your guidance as to HJ. Washington Square is on my shelves. Unfortunately, my intro to James was The Ambassadors. My (now) husband and I were in the same lit class that required reading that one---his copy ended up submerged in the bathtub!

heinäkuu 12, 2011, 9:18 am

James IS difficult. I was thrown in a college class into The Wings of the Dove and at the time could make neither head nor tail of it and neither could anyone else in the seminar, much to the professor's disgust. She ended up having us skip to the next book (it was a late Victorian seminar). I was thrilled to finally read and really enjoy the novel this past winter. James like Faulkner, I think, has his unique worldview and mode of expression, for which you have to be in the mood and ready to give your energies, in order to read him. He's not a casual read. More and more as I get older I value that in a writer, it's more immersive.

heinäkuu 12, 2011, 10:04 am

>25 NancyKay_Shapiro:: I like the way you think, NancyKay...

- I feel like the first reading lays the ground work for rereading, which in the case of Faulkner's great work, will constitute the REAL reading. Some writers -- James too -- are like that.

My first experience with Faulkner was The Sound and the Fury. I'm still working my way toward a reread of this one. Luckily, I started James with Daisy Miller, then Washington Square, and recently The Portrait of a Lady. I have found the preliminary "work" for both Faulkner and James to have a real payoff.

I'm glad to see this thread coming out of hibernation.

heinäkuu 12, 2011, 10:37 am

I'm glad for your responses!

The Portrait of a Lady is one I reread every few years, and it always feels different to me, different aspects of it seem important.

I finished The Sound & the Fury yesterday and I think I should probably just turn right around and start rereading it, because now that I know what's going on, I can read more deeply. There are so many books where it's best to get the plot out of the way, so to speak, so you can really notice what's interesting in the writing.

heinäkuu 12, 2011, 10:45 am

"I should probably just turn right around and start rereading it".

I've done that, NancyKay, and it's a great idea. I've never thought it was a criticism to say that a book needs to be read more than once. Nobody listens to a Beethoven symphony or a Bach cantata just once; even when you've come to know them well, they bear hearing again and again. When you've eaten a delicious meal, do you say "Well, now I've had that" and never eat the same thing again?

heinäkuu 4, 2012, 11:16 am

Can I make two very simple suggestions for those people who have experienced difficulties with "A Fable"?

1. Get the hardback. I had the little Vintage paperback and the text is so crammed in there it thwarted my first two attempts. The hardback is a lot more roomy, if you catch my drift, and reading it is, physically at least, a completely different experience.

2. Dorothy Tuck's "Handbook of Faulkner" has a list of characters, almost all of whom remain anonymous throughout the course of the novel. If you're not jack with the terminology of military ranks, it's an idea to make a copy of this character list and use it as a bookmark.

I do believe "A Fable" is an absolute masterpiece. It is astonishing, moving, and probably the most intense book I've ever read. But I appreciate it's not for everyone.

What it needs, really, is a champion.

My break is over. I'll have to write more about this later.

heinäkuu 4, 2012, 11:24 am

Be that champion Verchul, please! I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on A Fable. And I know exactly what you mean about the format of the physical book making a difference in its readability. I have both the hard cover and the paperback of A Fable. And now I have to go on a hunt for the Tuck book, which is one I don't have, and haven't heard of before. Gee, I'm glad you dropped by!

heinäkuu 4, 2012, 5:15 pm

Just a couple of other things to ponder:

"A Fable" occupies a unique and pivotal point in Faulkner's life and work. Of all his novels, this one took longest to write. When he began it, he was at a real low point. His books were mostly out of print and he was eking out his job as a screenwriter in Hollywood. He was frustrated that his contribution to the Allies' involvement in WW2 seemed to be nothing more than writing scripts for patriotic films that would probably never get made.

However, by the time of its publication in 1954, the war was over, Saint Cowley had published "The Portable Faulkner" providing new and old readers with a better perspective from which to see the Old Man's work, and the Nobel Prize was safe in a cabinet round at his mother's house.

The poet Delmore Scwhartz wrote a maginificent appraisal of the book at the time*, a book he referred to as a masterpiece. In their ads for the book, Random House had this to say: "Random House has the honor to announce one of the most important books it has ever published... This is William Faulkner's crowning achievement, magnificently conceived, one of the truly great works of fiction of our time... A Fable reflects all of modern man's conflicts within himself, his aspirations and his anguish and hope of final redemption."

Pretty heady stuff, and RH weren't making these sorts of claims every day of the week.

This year, with the coloured ink edition of "The Sound and the Fury", we are being told that publishing has finally grown up to Faulkner. Only when we lose our 50 year old prejudices against "A Fable" will we as readers have done the same.

If you've tried and failed, or if it's a book you've never read, please, do yourself a favour. Get yourself a hardback copy of this, and get it read.


*Included in one of the best books in my collection: "Faulkner: The Contemporary Reviews" edited by M. Thomas Inge. It lets you see a selection of the reviews that greeted each of Faulkner's works as it was published. Invaluable.

lokakuu 16, 2012, 1:56 pm

I second the love for A Fable. When I was a wee pup, working in a bookstore, I picked it up, beat my head against it for a hundred pages or so, and it twisted my brains up so much that I literally couldn't read another book for two weeks.
Then I read a few other Faulkners, (The Reivers is still my favorite), and came back, read slowly and without any outside disturbances.
It was incredible. What an achievement.

I've only read it once since, but that's because I just can't find the quiet time to focus.
Still haven't made it through Absalom, Absalom! yet.

lokakuu 16, 2012, 3:09 pm

#33, 34 You two are really encouraging me to find the time and determination to read A Fable. I dislike the fact that I've let it intimidate me, but on the other hand, I am sure it will require some dedicated, uninterrupted reading time, which is hard for me to grab onto these days. It remains a long-term goal of mine, however.

huhtikuu 3, 2020, 7:53 am

Thanks for this discussion, nine yeas later and I'm struggling through chapter 4 of Absalom, Absalom during Corona lockdown. It is good to know that man of you have the same love yet struggle relationship with WF as I have.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 3, 2020, 10:17 am

I'm happy you found this thread, Paul, and amazed to realize it's been so long since anyone posted in it. I was happy to revisit the discussion here myself after all this time. Have you read Faulkner before, or are you starting with Absalom, Absalom? As you can see, it's considered one of the most difficult, but the more I read it, the less it daunts me. These days, I don't consider it so terribly hard but that's based on a lifetime of reading it and other Faulkner works.

huhtikuu 3, 2020, 10:44 am

Some years after I read Absalom on the page I listened to a good unabridged audiobook of it. The skilled narrator helps pull you thru it.

I usually recommend Light in August as a good starting point for Faulkner.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 4, 2020, 8:09 am

Thanks for this thread. Been a long time since comments were helpful rather than opinionated.

Is the difficulty in Faulkner there for a reason? Or is it just for entertainment?

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 4, 2020, 8:53 am

>39 Macumbeira:
One might ask the same question of the entire Modernist project... Pound, Woolf, Joyce, Richardson, Eliot, Stevens etc. My take is that it is a different lens thru which to see life, the way that impressionism, cubism, expressionism are different ways to see images. And Faulkner, who was a traditionalist when he first got into literature (big Keats man, he), became influenced by Joyce and crew.

Or maybe I just made all that up...

huhtikuu 4, 2020, 11:09 am

Hugh Kenner in the 'Pound Era' asks himself that same question and cannot accept that reading the Modernists is just to give us an "hour of diversion". After reading 'As I lay dying' I concluded that it was another wrangle with Mimesis, that continuous search to render reality in fiction.

toukokuu 3, 2020, 9:40 pm

He makes us work. We put a little bit of ourselves into his text. I recall discovering WF in the lead short story "Was" in the collection "Go Down, Moses." First of all, why call a story "Was"? Was what? Next, who is Tomey's Turl? How can someone have the possessive case in his name?
WF tosses us headfirst into daily life on a very eccentric southern plantation before the Civil War: "Happy landing, Yankees -- hee, hee, hee."
Tomey's Turl's owners -- Uncle Buck and Uncle Buddy-- are mildly annoyed that TT has run away again. Again. Run away. Okay, so he's an enslaved black man. But everybody's been through this escape routine several times which is beginning to seem more like a sit-com than a tragedy of the Old South. And, by the way -- Whose uncle are Buck & Buddy? They are both well into their 60s, but Buck rides a horse like a rowdy teenager. Buddy is upset when a fox that Buck keeps under his bed escapes and is "treed" on top of an ornamental clock on the mantel. Clock. Again -- Time, which is always there ticking away in WF-land. Uncle Buddy stays at home in his kitchen domain while Uncle Buck tears off after Tomey's Turl. Is this supposed to be funny? TT, himself, is very blase about this escape: when the hounds catch up with him, he scratches their heads and they all amble into the woods and out of sight. This is beginning to seem funny. But much later on in Go Down Moses, in another story, we discover that Turl's Tomey has suffered a tragedy to rival the climax of an ancient Greek tragedy. Buck reaches his neighbor's plantation. They have dinner, a relaxing toddy, then everybody takes a nice long Sunday afternoon nap. Where is TT? Then it's supper time. Then bedtime. Buck stumbles into the wrong bedroom and a midnight card game/duel must be played to settle family honor. Tomey's Turl shows up to cut the cards. What in hell is going on here? Is this slapstick tragedy? Then, unless you play poker, you will be lost during the "duel." Morning dawns. Everything's settled. Some people are miserable, some quietly happy. But nobody's been destroyed. So, is this a comedy or what? There is no easily-understood conclusion to this story. So on to the next story, then the next...after a few decades and a half dozen readings pass, you begin to discern the pattern in this history.
WF is my lifetime companion. PS: Don't forget -- he was a certified alcoholic too.

toukokuu 3, 2020, 10:03 pm

It took me 5 years and 3 or 4 attempts to finish AA. It was that damn, dusty, hot parlor of Miss Rosa's. I just wanted to get OUT of there.

toukokuu 4, 2020, 9:25 am

Hey, fellow lockeddowners, Let's read Absalom, Absalom! start to finish this month! It's now or never. I just recovered my long-lost copy from 1970, which cost a whopping $1.65. It is redolent of my colorful youth. It is also caked with dust, just like Miss Rosa's deceased father's stuffy office, in Chapter one, scene one of AA. Someone on this thread -- back in 2012 -- mentioned Delmore Schwartz, who, like Faulkner, was very concerned with TIME.
Here's a great Schwartz line from this poem "For Rhoda." (I'm quoting from memory, so it's not 100% accurate)

Each moment bursts in the burning room/
The great globe reels in the solar fire/
Spinning the trivial and the unique away ...
How all things flash! How all things flare!
What am I now that I was then/
May memory restore again and again/
The smallest color of the smallest day/
Time is a school in which we learn/
Time is the fire in which we burn/

Got to hand out laundry, but will be back later today....Judith

toukokuu 4, 2020, 10:28 am

It might be time for a re-read of Absalom, Absalom!...I first read it in college, then again within a few years, and probably twice more since. The last time was in 2007. These days, I'd flag my own review, as "not a review", because it's not so much about AA as it is my usual rant about how to read Faulkner. But Absalom, Absalom! is, in my opinion, Faulkner's masterpiece. And maybe this time I'll read it in tandem with The Sound and the Fury, finally getting around to absorbing that masterpiece the way Faulkner reading the Folio Society edition printed in multiple colors.

toukokuu 4, 2020, 10:33 am

Don't make me jealous and say that you have that edition : )

toukokuu 4, 2020, 12:08 pm

>46 Macumbeira: I husband gave it to me for a significant's gorgeous.

toukokuu 4, 2020, 12:13 pm

Yes, Laytonwoman3rd, let's read both. Let's start in AA with Quentin -- Sept 1909 -- getting ready to leave for Father's school, Harvard, when he receives a puzzling note from an eccentric local lady, Rosa Coldfield. Quentin and Father sit on the front porch, trying to figure out what Miss Rosa wants. Actually, that scene is AA, Chapter Two. See, already TIME is looping away from us. We have work to keep our sense of where we are in TIME. It will become necessary to hold several different eras in mind as we go along.

AA, Chapter One, is in Rosa Coldfield's long-ago deceased father's office in Jefferson, Mississippi, in September 1909. What a stifling, dusty place! Miss Rosa looks so repellent sitting in the chair opposite Quentin, her legs too short for her feet to touch the floor "with that air of impotent and static rage, like children's feet." That vision sent me scooting away from AA at my first 2 attempts to get into the novel. A year later, I resumed:

Miss Rosa, it turns out, wants to talk about long-ago deceased Thomas Sutpen, an evil man of whom she apparently can' t get enough ....

Who wants to pick up here? ............

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 4, 2020, 2:50 pm

>49 Macumbeira: That's very interesting. The original sale price was somewhere around $500.00, I believe. But Folio did sell it for much less subsequently, possibly without the accompaniment of the second, commentary volume included in the original boxed set.

>48 Judith205: I'm not sure I can fit this project into May. I'm already committed to another challenge this month, and am in the middle of a couple books I don't really want to set aside. Furthermore, I started a re-read of the Snopes trilogy late last year, and still need to get to The Mansion. So, we'll see.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 4, 2020, 2:53 pm

It was too expensive for me at the time. At 500 use I would have bought it. It was around 850 /900 use I think
It was sold out in a matter of days ( two three weeks ), I couldn't even think it over.
I did not miss the Moby however
but I missed the Matheson

toukokuu 4, 2020, 3:17 pm

>51 Macumbeira: I'm sorry you missed out on it. If I recall correctly, it was offered in one of their sale catalogs (probably at Christmas time the following year) for around $100.00 US.

toukokuu 4, 2020, 9:18 pm

Having reread Chapter 1 of AA today, I'm stuck by how the narrator(s) shape the story: The Thomas Sutpen Story, and how the Thomas Sutpen story was received by Quentin Compson, suicide. In Chapter 1. I see two narrators: Miss Rosa Coldfield and Quentin's father, Mr. Compson (who has received a lot of the story from his own father, General Compson, who was Thomas Sutpen's only confidant.) Both Miss Rosa and Mr. Compson put a lot of their own personalities into their accounts of Thomas Sutpen.

The main thing that made it so difficult for me to get into AA was Miss Rosa, who looks pathetic and faintly comical -- like someone who runs after the train as it pulls out of the station. Also, her anger at Thomas Sutpen has warped her so much that one begins to see the common sense in Christ's advice to forgive one's enemies. To hold onto a grudge wastes life & destroys the soul. Rosa, though in her 60s, is still an "impotent and static" child whose feet don't reach the ground. By the end of Chapter 1, she claims to "see" a primal scene in Thomas Sutpen's marriage that she admits she was not actually there to see. Here's the final sentence in Chapter 1.

"But I was not there. I was not there to see the two Sutpen faces this time -- once on Judith and once on the negro girl beside her -- looking down through the square entrance to the loft."

So ends Chapter 1 of AA. If Miss Rosa wasn't there, how did she "see" that Judith and her half-sister (Clytie) were up in the hayloft spying on naked, blood-stained Thomas Sutpen wrestling with his own black slaves? And how did Miss Rosa "see" that the two girls watched it with calm dispassionate curiosity whereas their brother, Henry, had a meltdown: screaming and vomiting until Mama came running to take him away?

As for Mr. Compson's narrative: I have a weakness for his elegant, ironic manner:

"Ah," Mr. Compson said. "Years ago we in the South made our women into ladies. Then the War came and made the ladies
into ghosts. So what else can we do, being gentlemen, but listen to them being ghosts."

And then Father asks Quentin, somewhat playfully: "Do you want to know the real reason why she chose you?"

To me, Father is like a refreshing sip of mint julip after a long, bitter drink of Miss Rosa's gall. Of course, Father has his own issues.
And Quentin, as we all know will kill himself in Sound & Fury, lacking Father's blithe detachment -- and alcoholic consolations.

What do y'all think? Shall we tarry here or press on to AA Chapter 2?

toukokuu 4, 2020, 9:24 pm

50 latonwoman3rd

I'd like to get a discussion going, but that doesn't seem to happen on this site. I noticed that you tried to get a thread going on
Go Down Moses a few years back, but it didn't take.

toukokuu 4, 2020, 9:38 pm

>54 Judith205: In years past I have had some pretty good discussions on my own reading threads about Faulkner, but it seems most of the people that engaged are no longer around. One in particular has passed away, another doesn't use LT any longer. We need a way to stir up interest in this thread. I will mention it in a few places...see if anyone wants to participate.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 4, 2020, 10:57 pm

I'm kind of interested in this thread but I'm afraid I am not prepared to re-read Absalom Absalom right now. My reading/studying priorities lie elsewhere just now. So I'll lurk.

...maybe you'd want to announce this group-read in Book Talk, Literary Snobs, Green Dragon and other populous groups so as to reach interested folk who don't usually drop by the Faulkner group...

toukokuu 5, 2020, 9:00 am

Thank you. I will look around too and see whether some Faulkner fans can be lured over here.
I'm totally new to Library Thing.

toukokuu 5, 2020, 9:00 am

Thank you. I didn't know about those groups. They sound promising.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 5, 2020, 10:44 am

>57 Judith205: If you do stir up some interest, you might want to start a new dedicated thread for the group read, as this thread has a more general purpose.

toukokuu 5, 2020, 10:12 am

And this group:
... not populous but pretty on point.

toukokuu 5, 2020, 1:46 pm

Checked out Book Talk. Their setup very good. Good comments on Faulkner works. But very politically reactionary. Won't admit any micosoft users.
I suspect administrators anti-Bill Gates and refuse to accommodate aol users and others. Ah, well.

toukokuu 5, 2020, 5:54 pm

>61 Judith205:
Huh?? Booktalk has users of all political stripes. It's a general site-wide group and doesn't belong to any "they". For the most part politics is kept to the Pro&Con group. Frankly, your comment about Gates and AOL sounds delusional...

toukokuu 6, 2020, 8:45 am

Not really, Micro-soft users are definitely blocked. Go check it out. The reasons the administrators gave for the block -- too much spam control on Microsoft -- sounded off. Micro-soft spam control works for me. Whatever. I'll continue to hunt for other Faulkner fans.

toukokuu 6, 2020, 9:32 am

>63 Judith205: Where would I 'check this out'? I remember that AOL is no longer completely compatible with LT; perhaps IE too. But BLOCKED? If 'twere so I'd think I would hear regular and frequent complaints about it. But maybe I'm just not paying attention.

toukokuu 6, 2020, 9:36 am

What exquisitely lovely weather we're having here in New England. I live less than two miles from the famous Harvard Square bridge where Quentin jumped into the Charles. There's a little ceremony there every June. And several memorial plaques have been posted on the bridge over the years. (One was stolen, another destroyed when the bridge was refurbished. I think the present plaque has been there a long time.) I had thought of moseying over to watch them throw flowers or whatever into the water, but it may not happen during shutdown. The out-of-towners won't be able to travel here easily. Maybe a private visit to ponder Time and see who else is lurking around on June 2, which is a Tuesday. What music would be appropriate?

I've got it! "Tuesday Afternoon," performed by the Moody Blues:

Tuesday afternoon, Tuesday afternoon/
I'm just beginning to see, now I'm on my way/
It doesn't matter to me, chasing the clouds away/

Something calls to me, the trees are drawing me near/
I've got to find out why/
Those gentle voices I hear/
Explain it all with a sigh/

I'm looking at myself, reflections of my mind/
It's just the kind of day to leave myself behind/
So, gently swaying through the fairyland of love/
If you'll just come with me, you'll see the beauty of ... Tuesday afternoon...

toukokuu 6, 2020, 9:39 am

64 Cryto-Willobie: I went to Booktalk. Was able to look around, but not participate in discussions, several of which looked very promising.
Unfortunately, microsoft users can't get on. (I am on AOL) If there is a way for me to get in, let me know.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 6, 2020, 9:49 am

>62 Crypto-Willobie:, >63 Judith205: I believe you are talking about two different things. The Group on this site called Book Talk has no restriction against Microsoft users. I don't think that's even possible. I just signed in to it using Microsoft Edge with no difficulty. I don't see a lot of discussion there--it's meant to be a "catch-all" for discussion that don't have a specific group; I certainly don't see anything Faulkner-related. Am I missing something?

There is a website called, (which doesn't seem to have any new content in a few years), but it also allowed me on through Microsoft Edge.

toukokuu 6, 2020, 10:40 am

>67 laytonwoman3rd:

There is nothing specifically Faulkner-related about Book Talk. But there must be a number Faulkner-fans or potential Faulkner-fans out there on LT, many (most?) of whom are not aware of this Faulkner group, let alone this thread. I figured that if an Absalom group-read was announced on some populous groups (such as Book Talk, Green Dragon, Literary Snobs) sufficient folk might come here to check it out and make the group read viable.

toukokuu 6, 2020, 10:51 am

>68 Crypto-Willobie: Yes, that makes sense. But Judith did say there were "good comments on Faulkner works", and it seemed she meant on that group.

toukokuu 7, 2020, 10:19 am

I'll try again at Book Talk today. The Faulkner activity I found there was fairly recent, and I probably could have browsed there as long as I wanted, but I was unable to participate in any discussion. I may have gone into a different "Book Talk: from the one Laytonwoman3rd visited with Microsoft Edge. Were you able to enter and participate in conversations?

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 7, 2020, 12:58 pm

I don't know that there are currently any Faulkner discussions in the Book Talk group, which is a very general group. I just thought that posting an announcement there that you were initiating an Absalom group read in the Faulkner group might draw some potential participants. Same with for instance, Green Dragon -- Faulkner may NEVER have been mentioned there but that doesn't mean that some GD members might not be interested in coming to the Faulkner group for the group read. Same for Literary Snobs and other populous groups I have not named.

LT's Book Talk group:

toukokuu 7, 2020, 12:52 pm

Thank you, Crypto-Willobie. The more the merrier. I'll keep on exploring.