As I Lay Dying

As I Lay Dying

4.0 138
by William Faulkner
     
 

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“I set out deliberately to write a tour-de-force. Before I ever put pen to paper and set down the first word I knew what the last word would be and almost where the last period would fall.” —William Faulkner on As I Lay Dying
 
As I Lay Dying is Faulkner’s harrowing account of the Bundren family’s odyssey

Overview

“I set out deliberately to write a tour-de-force. Before I ever put pen to paper and set down the first word I knew what the last word would be and almost where the last period would fall.” —William Faulkner on As I Lay Dying
 
As I Lay Dying is Faulkner’s harrowing account of the Bundren family’s odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to bury Addie, their wife and mother. Narrated in turn  by each of the family members—including Addie herself—as well as others the novel ranges in mood, from dark comedy to the deepest pathos. Considered one of the most influential novels in American fiction in structure, style, and drama, As I Lay Dying is a true 20th-century classic.

This edition reproduces the corrected text of As I Lay Dying as established in 1985 by Noel Polk.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307792167
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/18/2011
Series:
Vintage International
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
44,340
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Jewel and I come up from the field, following the path in single file. Although I am fifteen feet ahead of him, anyone watching us from the cottonhouse can see Jewel's frayed and broken straw hat a full head above my own.

The path runs straight as a plumb-line, worn smooth by feet and baked brick-hard by July, between the green rows of laidby cotton, to the cottonhouse in the center of the field, where it turns and circles the cottonhouse at four soft right angles and goes on across the field again, worn so by feet in fading precision.

The cottonhouse is of rough logs, from between which the chinking has long fallen. Square, with a broken roof set at a single pitch, it leans in empty and shimmering dilapidation in the sunlight, a single broad window in two opposite walls giving onto the approaches of the path. When we reach it I rum and follow the path which circles the house. jewel, fifteen feet behind me, looking straight ahead, steps in a single stride through the window. Still staring straight ahead, his pale eyes like wood set into his wooden face, he crosses the floor in four strides with the rigid gravity of a cigar store Indian dressed in patched overalls and endued with life from the hips down, and steps in a single stride through the opposite window and into the path again just as I come around the comer. In single file and five feet apart and jewel now in front, we go on up the path toward the foot of the bluff.

Tull's wagon stands beside the spring, hitched to the rail, the reins wrapped about the seat stanchion. In the wagon bed are two chairs. Jewel stops at the spring and takes the gourd from the willow branch and drinks. I pass him and mount the path, beginning to bear Cash's saw.

When I reach the top he has quit sawing. Standing in a litter of chips, he is fitting two of the boards together. Between the shadow spaces they are yellow as gold, like soft gold, bearing on their flanks in smooth undulations the marks of the adze blade: a good carpenter, Cash is. He holds the two planks on the trestle, fitted along the edges in a quarter of the finished box. He kneels and squints along the edge of them, then he lowers them and takes up the adze. A good carpenter.

Addie Bundren could not want a better one, a better box to lie in. it will give her confidence and comfort. I go on to the house, followed by the

Chuck. Chuck. Chuck.

of the adze

From the Hardcover edition.

What People are saying about this

Ralph D. Ellison
For all his concern with the South, Faulkner was actually seeking out the nature of man. Thus we must return to him for that continuity of moral purpose which made for the greatness of our classics.
Edmund Wilson
Faulkner… belongs to the full-dressed post-Flaubert group of Conrad, Joyce, and Proust.
Robert Penn Warren
For all the range of effect, philosophical weight, originality of style, variety of characterization, humor, and tragic intensity [Faulkner's works] are without equal in our time and country.

Meet the Author

William Cuthbert Faulkner was born in 1897 and raised in Oxford, Mississippi, where he spent most of his life. One of the towering figures of American literature, he is the author of The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!, and As I Lay Dying, among many other remarkablebooks. Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1950 and France’s Legion of Honor in 1951. He died in 1962.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
September 25, 1897
Date of Death:
July 6, 1962
Place of Birth:
New Albany, Mississippi
Place of Death:
Byhalia, Mississippi

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As I Lay Dying 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 138 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Faulkner's As I Lay Dying is an outstanding book, however, it is extremely confusing. My English teacher, who required that we read the book our freshmen year in high school, told us that it's usually a book meant for grad students to read. The book is confusing, but Faulkner's style is unique and will definitely influence your own. His novel requires readers to stop and judge characters, it is necessary to constantly analyze. This is an excellent read for budding writers such as myself, because his style has had so much of an impact on my own. Read it not for enjoyment, because it is boring, but for the improvement of your own writing! It'll improve it so much, you'll notice it yourself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When reading Faulkner, you always wonder whether the book doesn't make sense or if you are just not as intellectual as is he. I like to think I'm not as intelluctual so my brain is stiumlated by the endless meaning and layers within his books. As I Lay Dying is not a happy story, but that is kind of evident within the title. The syntax and diction used is spectatcular. You find meaning in the way the text is written and the format of the words. In order to understand the novel, you have to read with a pencil in hand, underlining anything that seems important or significant because it most likely is signifcant. The characters are all narrators to the book. I believe, 17 total different point of views. The tricky part is figuring out whose story it is and what is the main theme. I always look at the book and try to figure out what is the meaning. As I Lay Dying gave me endless meanings and i loved being challenged to find them. Although it is simple with language and style, it is close to impossible to decipher the deeper meanings. You constantly second guess yourself because it is hard to know what is "the right answer." But after reading I felt accomplished, and dare i say, smart. There are so many meanings and none that probably come close to Faulkner's original message but it is worth discovering your own meaning to the story. I believe not only this book but all of his books give readers the opportunity to gain their own message within the text. Faulkner is brilliant and I recommend all his books. They are challenging and I believe are best with discussion groups just so you can hear what other meanings are found. I really enjoyed this book it is short, easy to read just hard to decipher bigger meaning. I find it challenging yet enjoyable. I hope you enjoy as much as I did :)
BunnyFace More than 1 year ago
So, I just finished reading "As I Lay Dying" this morning on my way to work. Let me start off saying that this is the second novel that I have read by William Faulkner. I became intrigued by Faulkner's works when a co-worker told me that "The Sound and The Fury" is frequently called one of the toughest novels to read, and he would be impressed if I finished it. So of course I read and somewhat followed it, and feel comfortable in saying that I enjoyed it. That said, starting with "The Sound and The Fury" made reading "As I Lay Dying" feel like a cake walk. I completely and totally enjoyed this novel, and would read it again as well as recommend it to friends. Now I feel prepared to take on more of his novels..next on my list is "Sanctuary".
whitt1993 More than 1 year ago
In the book As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, Addie, a wife and mother, becomes ill and dies. After giving birth to her second child, Addie had requested to be buried in Jefferson, Mississippi. Addie's husband, Anse, respects his wife's request and he devotes himself to getting her buried in her hometown of Jefferson. Anse does not realize at this time that the journey to Jefferson will be a long and challenging one, for many unfortunate events happen to the family before they reach their destination. One of these events being that all of the bridges on the way to Jefferson have either been flooded or washed away. The book also takes place in the 1920's so all they have to get her there is a wagon and horses which makes the trip even more challenging. Instead of having one set narrator, the author chose to let each person in the family and all of the people they encounter tell the story through their feelings and how they experience the events that take place. Addie is a mother to Dewey Dell, Jewel, Darl, Cash, and Vardaman who all react to their mother's death differently. All of the children are dynamic characters in the book. As I Lay Dying shows how everyone is affected by Addie's death. In my opinion, As I Lay Dying is a book worth reading. Faulkner makes the reader think about objects and ideas different from a way that they are used to. His use of stream of conscientiousness narration with each character telling the story allows the reader to choose whose story is the most reliable. Finally, his themes are ones that the reader can relate to and make their own opinion on. Towards the beginning of the book Addie's husband, Anse, says, "The Lord put roads for travelling: why he laid them down flat on the earth. When he aims for something to be always a-moving, he makes it long ways, like a road or a horse or a wagon, but when he aims for something to stay put, he makes it up-and-down ways, like a tree or a man. And so he never aimed for folks to live on a road, because which gets there first, I says, the road or the house?" (Page 35-36). Although from this quote we can question Anse's intelligence, this is one of my favorite descriptions because you have to actually think about what he is saying. Most people don't base an objects movement on whether its upright or not. The biggest theme that I recognize in the book is the questioning of existence and identity. Darl says, "Yet the wagon is, because when the wagon is was, Addie Bundren will not be. And Jewel is, so Addie Bundren must be. And then I must be, or I could not empty myself for sleep in a strange room. And so if I am not emptied yet, I am is. (Page 80-81). This confusing quote is important because after Addie dies Darl starts questioning the existence of everything. He believes that since his mother is dead she is now a "was" and not an "is". He thinks that if she doesn't exist then he has no mother and he cannot exist. Existence is something that everyone has their own opinion on and I can relate to this theme and Darl because if certain things did not exist I know that my life could not go on. The author often uses quotes like this and his words appear to be a riddle that you have to sort out and decipher. This language makes the reader actually think about what is being said and when you do figure out what it is actually saying it does make sense.
McCarthy92 More than 1 year ago
This is my first Faulker book and I now have promised myself to collect all of his books alog with Cormac McCarthy, Edgar Allen Poe, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. First of all, I love the whole plot and technique of this novel and all the characters are all amazing. I read one review that said that people say they like this book just to sound smart, but I thought to myself, maybe he/she just had trouble reading it and gave up. I had trouble with some parts of the book so I just read the spark notes after reading that one troubling section.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's probably most unlike anything you've ever read, as it is more of a collection of thoughts than a novel. The story centers around a family coping with their mother's death, and their journey to take her to be buried. It is very difficult to establish a sense of the characters in the beginning, but once you've figured it all out, the book becomes a many-layered and intricate beast of a beauty. It yields layers and layers of nuance and insight, creating a glorious web of intricacy and philosophy that is absolutely astounding. If you have a few weeks, take up this book. Read it, ponder it, and read it once more. Faulkner truly brings the human experience to life. If you read it with care -- with open eyes and open mind -- what you reap from this novel will last you a lifetime
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book AS I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner is written in a type of writing that only he could pull off. It's nothing like you've read before. It shows how the family copes through carrying their mother's rotting body to the town she wants to be buried in. It's very confusing in the beginning but once you get the jist of it it becomes a little easier to understand. What I found was hardest was figuring out who was who. You¿ll find that this book is harder to put down the deeper you get into the book. As you go through the family¿s tragedies and mishaps you¿ll find that it brings them closer in the end. In the end, although their mother is missed, the family must learn to adapt without her.
Chancie More than 1 year ago
Very well written and interesting, even though not a whole lot happens. Good!
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I read this book as it was required for school. I found the narration confusing at times, as multiple different people tell the story. Some of them tend to make more sense than others. However, I enjoyed to concept of having multiple perspectives. It challenges the reader to consider the reliability of each speaker - why are they saying what they are, and who is the most honest? I did end up enjoying this novel, and would recommend it as long as you don't mind a bit of a challenge.
all4faulkner More than 1 year ago
Incredible. No other way to describe it. If you understand it, it will change the way you think about what a novel is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago