As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text
  • As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text
  • As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text
  • As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text
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As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text

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

…  See more details below


“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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“He is the greatest artist the South has produced. . . . Indeed, through his many novels and short stories, Faulkner fights out the moral problem which was repressed after the nineteenth century [yet] for all his concern with the South, Faulkner was actually seeking out the nature of man. Thus we must turn to him for that continuity of moral purpose which made for greatness of our classics.” —Ralph Ellison
“No man ever put more of his heart and soul into the written word than did William Faulkner. If you want to know all you can about that heart and soul, the fiction where he put it is still right there.” —Eudora Welty

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Vintage International Series
Edition description:
Vintage International Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.59(d)
870L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

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 turn 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 corner. 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 hear 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.


So I saved out the eggs and baked yesterday. The cakes turned out right well. We depend a lot on our chickens. They are good layers, what few we have left after the possums and such. Snakes too, in the summer. A snake will break up a hen-house quicker than anything. So after they were going to cost so much more than Mr Tull thought, and after I promised that the difference in the number of eggs would make it up, I had to be more careful than ever because it was on my final say-so we took them. We could have stocked cheaper chickens, but I gave my promise as Miss Lawington said when she advised me to get a good breed, because Mr Tull himself admits that a good breed of cows or hogs pays in the long run. So when we lost so many of them we couldn't afford to use the eggs ourselves, because I could not have had Mr Tull chide me when it was on my say-so we took them. So when Miss Lawington told me about the cakes I thought that I could bake them and earn enough at one time to increase the net value of the flock the equivalent of two head. And that by saving the eggs out one at a time, even the eggs wouldn't be costing anything. And that week they laid so well that I not only saved out enough eggs above what we had engaged to sell, to bake the cakes with, I had saved enough so that the flour and the sugar and the stove wood would not be costing anything. So I baked yesterday, more careful than ever I baked in my life, and the cakes turned out right well. But when we got to town this morning Miss Lawington told me the lady had changed her mind and was not going to have the party after all.

"She ought to taken those cakes anyway," Kate says.

"Well," I say, "I reckon she never had no use for them now."

"She ought to taken them," Kate says. "But those rich town ladies can change their minds. Poor folks cant."

Riches is nothing in the face of the Lord, for He can see into the heart. "Maybe I can sell them at the bazaar Saturday," I say. They turned out real well.

"You cant get two dollars a piece for them," Kate says.

"Well, it isn't like they cost me anything," I say. I saved them out and swapped a dozen of them for the sugar and flour. It isn't like the cakes cost me anything, as Mr Tull himself realises that the eggs I saved were over and beyond what we had engaged to sell, so it was like we had found the eggs or they had been given to us.

"She ought to taken those cakes when she same as gave you her word," Kate says. The Lord can see into the heart. If it is His will that some folks has different ideas of honesty from other folks, it is not my place to question His decree.

"I reckon she never had any use for them," I say. They turned out real well, too.

The quilt is drawn up to her chin, hot as it is, with only her two hands and her face outside. She is propped on the pillow, with her head raised so she can see out the window, and we can hear him every time he takes up the adze or the saw. If we were deaf we could almost watch her face and hear him, see him. Her face is wasted away so that the bones draw just under the skin in white lines. Her eyes are like two candles when you watch them gutter down into the sockets of iron candle-sticks. But the eternal and the everlasting salvation and grace is not upon her.

"They turned out real nice," I say. "But not like the cakes Addie used to bake." You can see that girl's washing and ironing in the pillow-slip, if ironed it ever was. Maybe it will reveal her blindness to her, laying there at the mercy and the ministration of four men and a tom-boy girl. "There's not a woman in this section could ever bake with Addie Bundren," I say. "First thing we know she'll be up and baking again, and then we wont have any sale for ours at all." Under the quilt she makes no more of a hump than a rail would, and the only way you can tell she is breathing is by the sound of the mattress shucks. Even the hair at her cheek does not move, even with that girl standing right over her, fanning her with the fan. While we watch she swaps the fan to the other hand without stopping it.

"Is she sleeping?" Kate whispers.

"She's just watching Cash yonder," the girl says. We can hear the saw in the board. It sounds like snoring. Eula turns on the trunk and looks out the window. Her necklace looks real nice with her red hat. You wouldn't think it only cost twenty-five cents.

"She ought to taken those cakes," Kate says.

I could have used the money real well. But it's not like they cost me anything except the baking. I can tell him that anybody is likely to make a miscue, but it's not all of them that can get out of it without loss, I can tell him. It's not everybody can eat their mistakes, I can tell him.

Someone comes through the hall. It is Darl. He does not look in as he passes the door. Eula watches him as he goes on and passes from sight again toward the back. Her hand rises and touches her beads lightly, and then her hair. When she finds me watching her, her eyes go blank.


Pa and Vernon are sitting on the back porch. Pa is tilting snuff from the lid of his snuff-box into his lower lip, holding the lip outdrawn between thumb and finger. They look around as I cross the porch and dip the gourd into the water bucket and drink.

"Where's Jewel?" pa says. When I was a boy I first learned how much better water tastes when it has set a while in a cedar bucket. Warmish-cool, with a faint taste like the hot July wind in cedar trees smells. It has to set at least six hours, and be drunk from a gourd. Water should never be drunk from metal.

And at night it is better still. I used to lie on the pallet in the hall, waiting until I could hear them all asleep, so I could get up and go back to the bucket. It would be black, the shelf black, the still surface of the water a round orifice in nothingness, where before I stirred it awake with the dipper I could see maybe a star or two in the bucket, and maybe in the dipper a star or two before I drank. After that I was bigger, older. Then I would wait until they all went to sleep so I could lie with my shirt-tail up, hearing them asleep, feeling myself without touching myself, feeling the cool silence blowing upon my parts and wondering if Cash was yonder in the darkness doing it too, had been doing it perhaps for the last two years before I could have wanted to or could have.

Pa's feet are badly splayed, his toes cramped and bent and warped, with no toenail at all on his little toes, from working so hard in the wet in homemade shoes when he was a boy. Beside his chair his brogans sit. They look as though they had been hacked with a blunt axe out of pig-iron. Vernon has been to town. I have never seen him go to town in overalls. His wife, they say. She taught school too, once.

I fling the dipper dregs to the ground and wipe my mouth on my sleeve. It is going to rain before morning. Maybe before dark. "Down to the barn," I say. "Harnessing the team."

Down there fooling with that horse. He will go on through the barn, into the pasture. The horse will not be in sight: he is up there among the pine seedlings, in the cool. Jewel whistles, once and shrill. The horse snorts, then Jewel sees him, glinting for a gaudy instant among the blue shadows. Jewel whistles again; the horse comes dropping down the slope, stiff-legged, his ears cocking and flicking, his mismatched eyes rolling, and fetches up twenty feet away, broadside on, watching Jewel over his shoulder in an attitude kittenish and alert.

"Come here, sir," Jewel says. He moves. Moving that quick his coat, bunching, tongues swirling like so many flames. With tossing mane and tail and rolling eye the horse makes another short curvetting rush and stops again, feet bunched, watching Jewel. Jewel walks steadily toward him, his hands at his sides. Save for Jewel's legs they are like two figures carved for a tableau savage in the sun.

When Jewel can almost touch him, the horse stands on his hind legs and slashes down at Jewel. Then Jewel is enclosed by a glittering maze of hooves as by an illusion of wings; among them, beneath the upreared chest, he moves with the flashing limberness of a snake. For an instant before the jerk comes onto his arms he sees his whole body earthfree, horizontal, whipping snake-limber, until he finds the horse's nostrils and touches earth again. Then they are rigid, motionless, terrific, the horse back-thrust on stiffened, quivering legs, with lowered head; Jewel with dug heels, shutting off the horse's wind with one hand, with the other patting the horse's neck in short strokes myriad and caressing, cursing the horse with obscene ferocity.

They stand in rigid terrific hiatus, the horse trembling and groaning. Then Jewel is on the horse's back. He flows upward in a stooping swirl like the lash of a whip, his body in midair shaped to the horse. For another moment the horse stands spraddled, with lowered head, before it bursts into motion. They descend the hill in a series of spine-jolting jumps, Jewel high, leech-like on the withers, to the fence where the horse bunches to a scuttering halt again.

"Well," Jewel says, "you can quit now, if you got a-plenty."

Inside the barn Jewel slides running to the ground before the horse stops. The horse enters the stall, Jewel following. Without looking back the horse kicks at him, slamming a single hoof into the wall with a pistol-like report. Jewel kicks him in the stomach; the horse arches his neck back, croptoothed; Jewel strikes him across the face with his fist and slides on to the trough and mounts upon it. Clinging to the hay-rack he lowers his head and peers out across the stall tops and through the doorway. The path is empty; from here he cannot even hear Cash sawing. He reaches up and drags down hay in hurried armsful and crams it into the rack.

"Eat," he says. "Get the goddamn stuff out of sight while you got a chance, you pussel-gutted bastard. You sweet son of a bitch," he says.


It's because he stays out there, right under the window, hammering and sawing on that goddamn box. Where she's got to see him. Where every breath she draws is full of his knocking and sawing where she can see him saying See. See what a good one I am making for you. I told him to go somewhere else. I said Good God do you want to see her in it. It's like when he was a little boy and she says if she had some fertilizer she would try to raise some flowers and he taken the bread pan and brought it back from the barn full of dung.

And now them others sitting there, like buzzards. Waiting, fanning themselves. Because I said If you wouldn't keep on sawing and nailing at it until a man cant sleep even and her hands laying on the quilt like two of them roots dug up and tried to wash and you couldn't get them clean. I can see the fan and Dewey Dell's arm. I said if you'd just let her alone. Sawing and knocking, and keeping the air always moving so fast on her face that when you're tired you cant breathe it, and that goddamn adze going One lick less. One lick less. One lick less until everybody that passes in the road will have to stop and see it and say what a fine carpenter he is. If it had just been me when Cash fell off of that church and if it had just been me when pa laid sick with that load of wood fell on him, it would not be happening with every bastard in the country coming in to stare at her because if there is a God what the hell is He for. It would just be me and her on a high hill and me rolling the rocks down the hill at their faces, picking them up and throwing them down the hill faces and teeth and all by God until she was quiet and not that goddamn adze going One lick less. One lick less and we could be quiet.

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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.
From the Publisher

“He is the greatest artist the South has produced. . . . Indeed, through his many novels and short stories, Faulkner fights out the moral problem which was repressed after the nineteenth century [yet] for all his concern with the South, Faulkner was actually seeking out the nature of man. Thus we must turn to him for that continuity of moral purpose which made for greatness of our classics.” —Ralph Ellison
“No man ever put more of his heart and soul into the written word than did William Faulkner. If you want to know all you can about that heart and soul, the fiction where he put it is still right there.” —Eudora Welty

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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 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 9 months 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