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Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
As I Lay Dying (Norton Critical Editions)

As I Lay Dying (Norton Critical Editions)

by William Faulkner, Michael Gorra


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393931389
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 12/04/2009
Series: Norton Critical Editions Series
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 129,198
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

William Faulkner (1897–1962) is the Nobel Prize–winning author of
The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, among other works.

Michael Gorra teaches English at Smith College. His books include After Empire, The Bells in Their Silence, and, as editor, the Norton Critical Edition of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Date of Birth:

September 25, 1897

Date of Death:

July 6, 1962

Place of Birth:

New Albany, Mississippi

Place of Death:

Byhalia, Mississippi

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 thepath, 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

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.

Reading Group Guide

1. Which are the most intelligent and sympathetic voices in the novel? With whom do you most and least identify? Is Faulkner controlling your closeness to some characters and not others? How is this done, given the seemingly equal mode of presentation for all voices?

2. Even the reader of such an unusual book may be surprised to come upon Addie Bundren's narrative on page 169, if only because Addie has been dead since page 48. Why is Addie's narrative placed where it is, and what is the effect of hearing Addie's voice at this point in the book? Is this one of the ways in which Faulkner shows Addie's continued "life" in the minds and hearts of her family? How do the issues raised by Addie here relate to the book as a whole?

3. Faulkner allows certain characters--especially Darl and Vardaman--to express themselves in language and imagery that would be impossible, given their lack of education and experience in the world. Why does he break with the realistic representation of character in this way?

4. What makes Darl different from the other characters? Why is he able to describe Addie's death [p. 48] when he is not present? How is he able to intuit the fact of Dewey Dell's pregnancy? What does this uncanny visionary power mean, particularly in the context of what happens to Darl at the end of the novel? Darl has fought in World War I; why do you think Faulkner has chosen to include this information about him? What are the sources and meaning of his madness?

5. Anse Bundren is surely one of the most feckless characters in literature, yet he alone thrives in the midst of disaster. How does he manage to command the obedience and cooperation of his children? Whyare other people so generous with him? He gets his new teeth at the end of the novel and he also gets a new wife. What is the secret of Anse's charm? How did he manage to make Addie marry him, when she is clearly more intelligent than he is?

6. Some critics have spoken of Cash as the novel's most gentle character, while others have felt that he is too rigid, too narrow-minded, to be
sympathetic. What does Cash's list of the thirteen reasons for beveling the edges of the coffin tell us about him? What does it tell us about his feeling for his mother? Does Cash's carefully reasoned response to Darl's imprisonment seem fair to you, or is it a betrayal of his brother?

7. Jewel is the result of Addie's affair with the evangelical preacher Whitfield (an aspect of the plot that bears comparison with Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter). When we read Whitfield's section, we realize that Addie has again allied herself with a man who is not her equal. How would you characterize the preacher? What is the meaning of this passionate alliance, now repudiated by Whitfield? Does Jewel know who his father is?

8. What is your response to the section spoken by Vardaman, which states simply, "My mother is a fish"? What sort of psychological state or process does this declaration indicate? What are some of the ways in which Vardaman insists on keeping his mother alive, even as he struggles to understand that she is dead? In what other ways does the novel show characters wrestling with ideas of identity and embodiment?

9. This is a novel full of acts of love, not the least of which is the prolonged search in the river for Cash's tools. Consider some of the other
ways that love is expressed among the members of the family. What compels loyalty in this family? What are the ways in which that loyalty is betrayed? Which characters are most self-interested?

10. The saga of the Bundren family is participated in, and reflected upon, by many other characters. What does the involvement of Doctor Peabody, of Armstid, and of Cora and Vernon Tull say about the importance of community in country life? Are the characters in the town meant to provide a contrast with country people?

11. Does Faulkner deliberately make humor and the grotesque interdependent in this novel? What is the effect of such horrific details as Vardaman's accidental drilling of holes in his dead mother's face? Of Darl and Vardaman listening to the decaying body of Addie "speaking"? Of Vardaman's anxiety about the growing number of buzzards trying to get at the coffin? Of Cash's bloody broken leg, set in concrete and suppurating in the heat? Of Jewel's burnt flesh? Of the "cure" that Dewey Dell is tricked into?

12. In one of the novel's central passages, Addie meditates upon the distance between words and actions: "I would think how words go straight up in a thin line, quick and harmless, and how terribly doing goes along the earth, clinging to it, so that after a while the two lines are too far apart for the same person to straddle from one to the other; and that sin and love and fear are just sounds that people who never sinned nor loved nor feared have for what they never had and cannot have until they forget the words" [pp. 173-74]. What light does this passage shed upon the meaning of the novel? Aren't words necessary in order to give form to the story of the Bundrens? Or is Faulkner saying that words--his own chosen medium--are inadequate?

13. What does the novel reveal about the ways in which human beings deal with death, grieving, and letting go of our loved ones?

Comparing The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, andAbsalom, Absalom!

1. In all three of these novels the family is central to structure, plot, and meaning. It is the source of grief and identity as well as the locus of all individual psychic struggles. Do you see all of Faulkner's characters eternally trapped within their familial roles? How do the families differ in each of these novels, and how are they similar? How do the particularly important symbolic roles of the mother and the father differ from book to book?

2. Faulkner tries to make himself disappear in these works. Instead of using the traditional third-person narrator that most readers associate with the author, he directs a chorus of voices that intertwine, complement, and contradict one another. As readers, we must rely on what we learn from the characters themselves as to time, place, plot, and matters of cause and effect. Why do you think Faulkner prefers to make his characters speak "directly" to his readers? How does this technique affect your ability to believe in the worlds that exist in these novels? How would more direct intervention by an authorial voice change your experience?

3. In which of these works do you think Faulkner's style, his use of language, and his formal innovations are most finely tuned, most powerfully worked out? In which do you feel that his stylistic quirks are most annoying, most distracting?

4. All of these novels question our assumptions about time as regular, linear, sequential, predictable. What are some of the ways in which time is disrupted in these works?

5. The Compson family of The Sound and the Fury (1929) plays a central role in Absalom, Absalom! (1936) as well. Does Faulkner want readers of Absalom, Absalom! to assume that Quentin's involvement in the Sutpen story is one of the reasons for his suicide, which takes place three months later in The Sound and the Fury? Do you see a seamless characterization of Quentin and Mr. Compson in the two books?

6. Faulkner is interested in the causes and effects of extreme psychological pressures, as we see in Quentin and Benjy Compson, Henry and Thomas Sutpen, Rosa Coldfield, Vardaman and Darl Bundren, and many other characters in these novels. What are some of the forms that psychopathology takes in Faulkner's world?

7. Faulkner has often been accused of an extremely misogynistic representation of women. Consider Caddy Compson, Dilsey, Dewey Dell and Addie Bundren, Judith Sutpen, Rosa Coldfield, the wife of Charles St. Valery Bon, and other female characters in these three novels. How would you describe Faulkner's notion of the feminine, as compared with the masculine? Do you agree with the critic Irving Howe that "Faulkner's inability to achieve moral depth in his portraiture of young women clearly indicates a major failing as a novelist"?

8. Is the work of Faulkner necessarily different in its impact depending upon whether one is from the North or the South, whether one is black or white?

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As I Lay Dying 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 160 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.
Avila444 on LibraryThing 20 days ago
Depressingly accurate. Why one shouldn't ignore God.
araridan on LibraryThing 22 days ago
"My mother is a fish." I like stories about the South and what I've read from Faulkner. As I Lay Dying, is most simply a story about a family whose mother dies and the journey the family takes to fulfill her wishes of being buried in her fairly far away hometown. However, this is also a story about family dynamics, human nature, and people being selfish or becoming victims of those who are selfish. It's also a story that taps into myths and themes of Western Civ. in general...coupled with a fascinating narrative style involving stream of consciousness via fifteen different character. I really don't think there is much to say about Faulkner that hasn't already been forced into the brain of nearly every American high school student..I think he's probably one of the better authors that every high school student (except for me) was forced to read...I'm just catching up now.
Cynfrank on LibraryThing 22 days ago
I really like this audio book. I'm not a big fan of listening to a book before reading it. But this book seems to lend itself to this format. The different characters read by a different actor is a great way to experience this book. The book is one that you can listen to over and over and learn something new each time. If you simply don't have the time to read the book, but can listen to it, I highly recommend this version. You may find other versions read by a single actor confusing.
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing 22 days ago
You have to appreciate Faulkner for what he's able to do, and brave enough to do--and while this book may take a couple of reads to really comprehend (unless you're talking about it with other readers or reading very slowly), it comes together to live up to the reputation of the author and this work in particular. It's not one of my favorite books, or even my favorite of Faulkner's work, but if you study literature, writing, or even just enjoy different structures and plays with language, you have to read it at some point, at least once.
Tulkinghorn on LibraryThing 22 days ago
One of Faulkner's masterpieces. The many and varied narrators are wonderfully unique and dark. Together, they offer a fragmented and sometimes conflicting view of their journey that invites the reader to piece together the truth (if a single truth exists) for themselves. Faulkner's style is lyrical and seductive, drawing the reader along with the madness of the Bundren family and their quest to honor a dying woman's last wish. The Bundrens are a family of secrets and deceit, the epitome of "dysfunction" and half the fun of this novel is trying to uncover what they have buried.
lsachs on LibraryThing 22 days ago
Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" follows a dysfunctional family as they bring their mother to be buried in Jefferson, Mississippi as per her final wish. The book is told in the stream-of-consciousness method, where each different chapter is told from a different perspective, sometimes even at a completely different time. One memorable chapter is written from the coffin, by the dead mother. Along the way the reader sees the decaying familial relationship, and at the same time becomes completely captivated by the setting of Faulker's South.The book does not connect to the search-for-self theme as explicitly as Siddhartha, for example. However, along the way the Bundrens discover a lot about themselves, each other, and their relationships. Some narrators that the reader trusts at the beginning turn out to be legitimately insane, and vice versa. None of the family members really understand why this woman demanded on being buried in Jefferson, and a large part of the novel is the questioning of this and consequently themselves. I recommend this book highly. It is definitely a tough read, and the stream of consciousness style definitely means you have to be 100% cognizant when reading. It is a very rewarding and deep read though- the story itself is very linear, but the character's subplots and thoughts essentially make the book. Definitely go read this.
justmeRosalie on LibraryThing 22 days ago
Honestly, at first I wondered if I would finish reading this book. It is just plain miserable. I read your reviews here, and for the life of me, I still cannot see what some of you considered funny. The despair just went on and on and on. As if sitting through a sweltering hot day, I just waited for something to change. If you hold on long enough, it does.Faulkner writes in a stream-of-consciousness style that carries the story well, eventually keeping the reader very involved. Eac h chapter is titled and narrated by one of the characters, some several times and others only once. The drawback is that so much of the time, it isn't clear what they are thinking of or talking about. I would not have had the patience to go on with it without finding some outside explanation to clarify what was happening. The story is simple. The mother of a poor family has died and they are taking her to her hometown to be buried. They are beset by one disaster after another. By reading the chapters as if listening to the narrators mind, the complexities of the family are outlined and woven together eventually giving a rustic scene of the dysfunctionality and psyche of the family as a whole. I'm not sure that you understand or relate to the emotions, but they are there and they are deep. Perhaps to augument their dispair. It is possible you will find yourself evaluating your own group from this viewpoint. I found it troublesome and haunting and I think you may find glimpses of yourself or those you love or hate here. Curiously, because each person starts out so far removed from the reader. they wrap up in quite a heartfelt reality. I feel a large distance from them and yet realize that parts of them are likely part of all of us. It gives them life, although it is with a dull warmth. It haunts you. I'm afraid this will stay with me for awhile, whether I liked it or not. You don't have to like a book for it to be good.Addendum: I just have to put this in here. I finished reading this book this morning. It has been on my mind all day. I so much hate one of the characters that people I see make me think "That looks like _____! I"d like to run ___ over!!!!" And what about ___ and ____?????? It's as if they are real live people, which happens when you read a book but this is more intense!!! I guess we have to say it is a "darn good book'!!!
jpsnow on LibraryThing 22 days ago
What can I say about a book I enjoyed yet don't completely understand, even after having read commentary. "My mother is a fish" is a whole chapter. Faulkner tells the story from several perspectives. It's brilliant in how he does it, but I missed whole parts of the reality, e.g. Addie having at least one of the children from an affair with the pastor. Still, it's funny and tells a story that is challenging, if not enjoyable. The pathetic nature of the hapless characters reminded me of "A Confederacy of Dunces."
andyray on LibraryThing 22 days ago
One of my friends, not highly literarily schooled, brouight me this book just before a heart operation was scheduled. Such a sense of humour, eh? The dialogue is p;ure downhome for the rural people through the Appalachians up through the eastern mountains. In the book is the first usage I remember seeing of an idiomati9c phrase i use in my life, but mostly in my writing, e.g., "to get in a tight." Faulkner used it several times in this story about old man Anze and his family taking the rotting body of Attie the grandmother to a burfial place far away across raging rivers and through dusty, hot days.
KCato on LibraryThing 22 days ago
Weird, weird book. I hope this review has been helpful.
snag2772 on LibraryThing 22 days ago
This is the perfect starting place for a Faulkner virgin in my opinion. It gives you the POV traits that become so imperative in some of his larger works, while keeping it nice and simple and easy to read. Short chapters and rapid action keep this compelling for those who are new to this style. A lot of reviews on other sites say differently, suggesting Light in August and/or The Unvanquished as the perfect starting place. They're lying. Those are definitely not to be missed - however, to read Faulkner is to read his major works. As I Lay Dying prepares you for what's coming...Light in August does not. The Unvanquished? Those are basically short stories so...this would be my choice for best first Faulkner.
Wubsy on LibraryThing 22 days ago
Whilst reading this novel I couldn't decide whether I liked it or not, but on completion it stands out as an excellent mini-epic about generations. I was especially drawn to the split narrative, and Faulkner's ability to capture a unique voice and language for each of the participating characters. I have an odd sensation about the novel that none of its constituent parts is fantastic, but that viewed together they just seem to work. After reading 'As I Lay Dying' I am compelled to try out some more Faulkner in the near future.
JimmyChanga on LibraryThing 22 days ago
I loved it but it's almost too perfect.
aethercowboy on LibraryThing 24 days ago
As I Lay Dying was my first ever interaction with Faulkner, and I must say, now I know what all the hype is about.The plot involves a mother, Addie Bundren, who has died, and her family fulfilling the promise to bury her in the distant Jefferson county, a journey rife with trials and tribulations. Additionally, each family member has their own reasons for getting to Jefferson county, other than to bury Addie.The literary technique of the novel involves 59 chapters, each of which is narrated by one of 15 individuals, including the deceased Addie. Each character has a unique voice, which shows through in the writing, ranging from Cash's first chapter, which reads like an instruction manual, to Darl's last chapter, which reads like James Joyce, to Vardaman's quotable chapter, which is only five words long.Expertly crafted, this book shows that Faulkner had mastered dark humor. As well, he uses the literary technique to its fullest strength. The characters, both caricatures and realistic people, are at the same time sad and hilarious.If you're a fan of other Faulkner works, or enjoy the writings of Joyce, then you may very well enjoy As I Lay Dying.
carrieprice78 on LibraryThing 24 days ago
I don't think he did such a good job with the colloquial dialect. Cormac McCarthy does a much better job, but that is my subjective opinion. The story was great. The matriarch of the family dies and the husband oversees to fulfill her wishes to be buried among her own kin, which requires a long ride. I kept thinking this entire family had a screw loose, somewhere, because they couldn't do anything right. Lots of allusions going on here, to Greek mythology, to God and Christianity, to female sexuality. This stuff is heady. I felt stupid at the end when I had to look on Wikipedia just to confirm that I thought I knew what happened. It was a little confusing so it helped to have the confirmation. Perhaps I'll try The Sound and the Fury, next.
kukulaj on LibraryThing 24 days ago
I'm a computer programmer and far from the world of high literary culture. I do like to make occasional visits to that world, however. Sometimes I head for the frontiers, but other times I will go right to the core. Norton Critical Editions seem like a workable definition for "core". I am clearly in no position to offer meaningful comments on the value of Faulkner's work or that of the editor of this edition - all that is the distilled product of a huge industry. I feel like a schoolchild on a factory tour! Still, I can offer my impressions.Faulkner's novel itself is a total onslaught. I expected to be confused - I find a lot of this high modern literature very hard to grasp - but actually this novel is easy enough to read and to follow. OK, a lot of the language runs miles outside the neat city streets of proper grammar, but just reading it gives one a good impression of the issues the characters are struggling with. The whole plot is laid out quite directly. The real assault is just the intensity of experience, both the raw sensory experience of the characters and then all the emotion turmoil this drives and is driven by. Or the kind of emotional rigidity that, like smoke implies fire, implies some kind of traumatic cutting off. Reading this novel is a bit of a traumatic shock itself. Life really can be brutal - some kind of underlying brutality seems almost pervasive sometimes - and this novel rips off the pretty wrapping. It's easy to see how it has earned its place in the literary canon.What's really funny about this book is that the overall structure is almost a mirror of the novel. The novel is a collection of snippets, reflections on events from the points of view of a variety of characters. Then the Norton Critical Edition duplicates this, giving us reflections on the novel from the points of view of a variety of characters. The variety is about as diverse as the characters in the novel! It amazes me how these different analyses pull such different interpretations out of the one short novel. Of course, the novel is a bit of a Rorschach ink splot - such a rich incoherence that one can build any number of palaces atop it. And here they are! But each of them seemed at least like a legitimate perspective, even if at times the rich interpretation of minor details seemed a bit overdone. Even then, it's a great tool to help the reader look again, to revitalize one's reading.
bohemiangirl35 on LibraryThing 24 days ago
I read this when I was on my 'I need to read the classics' kick. I didn't expect to like it, but I did.
CasualFridays on LibraryThing 26 days ago
The 1949 Nobel Prize for literature winner wrote this novel in 6 weeks and it was published in 1930. It's written in "stream of consciousness" style by 15 different narators. Its dark and depressing and emotionally thick, but well worth pulling yourself through. What struck me is Faulkners ability to make you sincerely attached to the characters, even though they aren't so likeable and there are many of them. Sometimes you find yourself thinking "He wouldn't have said that!" But maybe he would, maybe Darl, a poor, young, uneducated country boy, really would use the word soporific and think so philosophically about time and space ("It is as though the space between us were time: an irrevocable quality. It is as though time, no longer running straight before us in a diminishing line, now runs parallel between us like a looping string, the distance being the doubling accretion of the thread and not the interval between." Other reviewers have hated this, thinking that it is so out of character, that it is the authors uncontrollable urge to write so poetically. But I like to think it's the whole "you can't judge a book by it's cover" thing. I love that there are these wonderful characters who challenge your first judgement of them.