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Light in August

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  33,143 ratings  ·  1,460 reviews
Light in August, a novel about hopeful perseverance in the face of mortality, features some of Faulkner’s most memorable characters: guileless, dauntless Lena Grove, in search of the father of her unborn child; Reverend Gail Hightower, who is plagued by visions of Confederate horsemen; and Joe Christmas, a desperate, enigmatic drifter consumed by his mixed ancestry.
Paperback, 507 pages
Published January 30th 1991 by Vintage (first published 1931)
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Mike
Light in August, William Faulkner's Portraits of Loneliness and Isolation

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Light in August, First Edition, Smith & Haas, New York, New York, 1032

"Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders." William Faulkner, "Light in August," Chapter Six, Paragraph One.

It takes guts to write a review of one of the great American novels by one of the great American writers. I could call it chutzpah. But I'm not Jewish. Just call it Irish-Americ
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Mariel
May 01, 2012 Mariel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: it's written all over my face
Recommended to Mariel by: I started reading it without meaning to
Don't pray over no body. I knew that I would figure it out. It was something I already knew. That's how you don't feel bad about wanting to know anyone. Don't expect anything. It doesn't get rid of the falling feeling when you think about them, though. Light in August is an ultimate societal kangaroo's pouch of claustrophobic guilt for me. Where does anyone belong?

William Faulkner writes to me in my favorite way of being talked to in stories (anything). If I could have this in every book I read
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Kim

This novel is my first experience of William Faulkner’s writing. I was drawn to it partly because one of my favourite novelists, John Steinbeck, was a great admirer of Faulkner’s work and partly because I felt it was time to fill the gap in my literary education caused by my unfamiliarity with one of the great novelists of the 20th century.

My research into which of Faulkner’s novels to start with indicated that Light in August is one of his more accessible works. This proved to be so, or at lea
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Colin McKay Miller
A couple of thoughts I’ll tie together: 1) I read a BBC article that suggests a large percentage of people keep books on their shelf to impress others rather than to read them. 2) As young students, teachers take us to the library and allow us to pick out whatever book we like (as long as we’re not just trying to avoid reading by picking out a pamphlet), but by the time we reach high school and college, it’s assigned. Though I believe an educator’s recommendation to be valuable, I believe taking ...more
Aubrey
The sins of the father, the sins of the mother, the sins of the deep and the golden dark.

I've heard mentions of Light in August being one of Faulkner's most accessible works. Fitting, then, that it be the second of my readings, the first having been The Sound and the Fury. For I thought I found something in the first worth searching for in the rest, but as you and many an English Literature student know, TSatF isn't the place for certainty. Here, I found that Faulkner knew what he was doing.

I ca
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Juushika
Lena Grove travels, on foot and with the aid of strangers, through the South in search of the father of her unborn child. Her journey introduces the reader to a variety of characters, including the child's father, a man who falls in love with Lena, and a biracial man named Christmas. Like Lena, all of these characters have stories to tell, and Faulkner interweaves a number of back stories and histories in the body of this book. One of his more accessable texts, Light in August is easy to get in ...more
Chazzbot
Like some bemused god looking down on his creations with a trace of empathy, but also with a hint of disdain at their hopeless bigotry, indolence, and willful ignorance, Faulkner's keen, cool eye for the way humans can be chilly in its precision. But there is no denying that Faulkner knows his characters and, by extension, his readers. This is a somewhat grim novel, with little evidence of hope for any of the characters who manage to walk away, but you will be hard pressed to find a more honest ...more
Jessica
So I'm back in school now, and for the first time in ages am being made to read books. Now I don't have any personal experience with desperately trying to get pregnant, but reading novels for school reminds me of that: there's this activity that I'm used to doing purely for fun when I feel like it, that I'm now grimly pushing through on an inflexibly dictated schedule, whether I'm in the mood or not, with this intense sense of purpose that seems to poison the whole event. The result is that I'm ...more
Steve
I’ve been working my through some great books I read many years ago. I don’t know as I’m picking up on new things reading with older eyes, but so far I’ve not been disappointed. The emotional wallop in these great novels still remains. My latest effort was Faulkner’s Light in August. It’s not Faulkner’s greatest book (see Absalom, Absalom), but it is the most accessible of his great novels. And it contains one of the saddest characters in all of literature: Joe Christmas. Abandoned, institutiona ...more
Chloe
I have to imagine that Oprah Winfrey lost a bit of her, still colossal, political capital when she attempted to get the bored housewives of Middle America to read the works of Faulkner several summers back. I remember when we first received the Oprah Box, as we called the Faulkner box set that was released for the occasion, at the bookstore where I worked. A hugely prominent end cap exhorting neophyte readers used to books that never grew more challenging than the woe-is-me fiction of Wally Lamb ...more
Chrissie
The most obvious reason why one would choose to read this book is the magnificent way in which it evokes the atmosphere of the South in the 1920s. The hatred and distrust between the races was all pervasive. Such despair! To say the book is about racial discrimination is like saying a "painting is pretty" ……..and leaving it at that. It is the emotional response that Faulkner’s words evoke in the reader that is so exceptional.

Faulkner's sentences usually say more than the bare words; think prose
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Corinne
Faulkner is amazing - he is always making up words that are several words put together. I like this technique because that one combination-word somehow creates a whole different picture. For example: cinderstrewnpacked or Augusttremulous or pinkwomansmelling. It's a harsh story but, I think, so beautifully written. Sometimes he writes whole paragraphs that are just a jumble of memories - like just a bunch of loosely related details in one sentence, with nothing connecting them. Those take a whil ...more
Tosh
It inspired Boris Vian and that's enough in my book. Joe Christmas is one of the great fictional characters in fiction. I can smell Southern culture right off these pages. Taste it and live the tale.
Bonnie
“…a fellow is more afraid of the trouble he might have than he ever is of the trouble he’s already got. He’ll cling to trouble he’s used to before he’ll risk a change. Yes. A man will talk about how he’d like to escape from living folks. But it’s the dead folks that do him the damage. It’s the dead ones that lay quiet in one place and don’t try to hold him, that he can’t escape from.”

Light in August, set in Faulkner’s oft used Yoknapatawpha County, follows three separate yet connected storyline
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Bruce
The characters of importance in this novel are all in a sense outsiders to the society in which they find themselves. One, the first introduced, is Lena Grove, young and pregnant, having walked for thirty days looking for her lover who is a scoundrel and who left her when he learned of her pregnancy. She is at term. But shortly she seems to disappear temporarily from the narrative to be replaced by Joe Christmas (so named because as an infant he was abandoned on the doorstep of an orphanage on C ...more
Jamie
You start off with the one story, all right. In the background there’s something bizarre, and you can instantly make up your mind about what it is, or not bother with it at all, like you do in life or any story. Then, a few chapters pass, and like a boxer’s feint now that background is the story: and it’s so different up close, all your judgements are useless, it makes your mouth gape open to see what’s really going on. Now the original story is in the background and something new that’s bizarre ...more
Dominic
Joe Christmas is quite possibly the most sympathetic misogynist in fiction. Of course most of the men of Light in August are ruthless, brutal women-haters and racists, throwing around the words "slut" and "whore" and racial epithets like it's nothing. But that is one of the reasons I love to deconstruct Faulkner's work--and if I ever get my doctorate in English, I may just write my dissertation on masculinity and Faulkner.

Yet Joe Christmas is still, despite all his repulsive nature, a tragic and
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Richard
Aug 01, 2012 Richard rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who like to think deeply about morality.
Shelves: 2012
"Light in August" is probably just about the best love story that I have ever read.

"What love story?" you ask. "I thought this book was about castration and arson and racism and horsebeating and wifebeating and whorebeating and slicing a woman's neck with a straight razor and then smashing in your dad's head with a chair?"

Yes. It is about that in a way. But it is as if Faulkner shows us the darkness of the human heart in order to warn us against the folly that lurks, often unchecked, in the de
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Larry Bassett
If you are intimidated by Faulkner, you are not the first. If someone has told you just to let Faulkner’s words “wash over you” and resist the urge to figure them out right away, welcome to the group. Maybe you will love Faulkner and want to read everything he has ever written. Maybe you will say, “Be gone, Mr. Bill!” I am not the first to fail Faulkner 101 and I will not be the last.

I have been somewhat successful in letting The Sound and the Fury wash over me. I have been soundly defeated by
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Marlene
Light in August was a recommendation from a friend. I hadn't read any book of Faulkner at all, so he thought I should maybe change that. I'm glad he suggested it.

At first it was a little hard to get used to Faulkners style of writing, but after a while I found it very interesting indeed. What also complicated matters was that he switched from one perspective to another. There were so many people the reader was watching, their stories of life interwoven with one another...!
At the same time this w
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Judy
Apr 01, 2013 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Steinbeck and Stegner fans
Recommended to Judy by: Chelsea
Each year I choose a famous author who I've never read. I determine to read at least one of his books all the way through and if I like what I read I add more of his/her works. Last year, I tackled Hemingway, this year its William Faulkner. I like Faulkner. Hemingway? meh.

If I had known that Light in August was Faulkner's most complex novel, I probably wouldn't have chosen it. However, it turned out well especially since I picked up the Cliff's Notes to guide me through the book. I'm glad I did,
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Huy
Tôi bắt đầu đọc "Nắng tháng Tám" vào những ngày đầu tháng, khi ánh nắng chói chang rực rỡ của mùa hè vẫn còn sót lại và kết thúc nó vào ngày cuối cùng của tháng Tám, một ngày mưa rả rích không có chút ánh nắng nào. Khi đọc cuốn sách, tôi đã nghĩ thầm nếu đặt tên là Bão tháng Tám hay Lốc tháng Tám chẳng hạn thì có lẽ sẽ hợp hơn, vì cuốn sách là trùng trùng điệp điệp những cuộc đấu tranh không ngơi nghỉ mà nhiều nhất, từng nhân vật trong tác phẩm đều đấu tranh với chính bản thân mình.
William Faul
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Michael
this book is so beautifully wrought i could hardly stand it. it literally pained me, mostly because this is the book i would want to write if i was a novelist. i now understand why gabriel garcia marquez said he had to kill faulkner in his own writing, so influential were faulkner's books on his development. this book grapples with all the great themes of the south, yet is universal in its scope and insight into the human condition. i knew i was taken because of the way i suffered right along wi ...more
Paul
Incredible characters, and Faulkner handles the subject of race in the south in the 20's unflinchingly. As usual, everybody in his books, black or white, is deeply flawed and superficially unlikeable, but has some quality which compels a connection. Some of the best final 50 pages of any book ever.
David
Oct 15, 2012 David rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Southern writers who drink too much, Cormac McCarthy fans
This is my first time reading the notoriously difficult Faulkner. I did not find Light in August to be particularly difficult, though it's also said to be his most accessible work. Faulker writes in a sort of sparse poetry that reminds me a little of Cormac McCarthy (though it's probably more appropriate to say that McCarthy reminds me of Faulkner). Faulkner is not as sparse, though; his prose requires a fair degree of sophistication to grasp and he weaves many, many themes through this novel, s ...more
josey
Oct 20, 2011 josey rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: novel
I couldn't finish it. While Faulkner is a beautiful writer he is very depressing. I lost interest after 100 plus pages, so I really can't even say that I read the book. What did me in was his flashbacks. It was okay for one chapter, but chapter after chapter revealed flashbacks, and this during the time when I found the book so interesting. My thought was to skip them and get on with the book, but so many chapters were on it. I will keep the book and keep trying.

P.S. I gave in and finished the
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Tanja Berg
I found this book in a far corner of my most inconveniently located bookshelf. Right beside "the Pathfinder" by Orson Scott Card. Luckily the books have nothing in common and quite enjoyed this one. The world described in this book, set in the deep south early 20th century, is one I am quite unfamiliar with.

Joe Christmas is a rootless man, white but with some black blood. When he kills a white woman, he's in for deep trouble. Intertwined into this story is that of pregnant Lena, looking for her
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Adam
More accessible in style and character than As I lay Dying this is great second or maybe first book for neophyte Faulkner readers. A twisted Gospel of Matthew (with Herod merged with Joseph in Doc Hines, Freudians rejoice) with elements of Greek tragedy in Faulkner’s vibrant, yet Gothic and decayed South. The characters are loveable for all their intensity and memorable (especially Joe Christmas). Faulkner’s narrative authority is on full display in this one.
Lenny Wick
I have recollections of reading this early in high school (or middle school?), but now I doubt myself, or doubt what kind of reader I was at that point: the middle passages of the strange romance, or whatever it is, between Joanna Burden and Joe Christmas came off as gentle and maybe even sweet to nerdy post-adolescent me who was, I can only assume, yearning for any feminine contact at all.

Now, those passages read as desperate and raw. The whole novel reads as horrifying and raw. I feel wanderin
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Elizabeth A
My first Faulkner, and it will not be my last. Holy smokes can this guy write. This is not an easy read, nor is it a fast one, but it is well worth the time. The audiobook is wonderfully narrated by Scott Brick, and while at first the slow pacing was annoying, I came to realize that he is the perfect reader for this story. You need to move slowly. You need to feel the heat, and the dust, and take your time getting to know the characters in this story. You need to get sucked in, one breath at a t ...more
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On the Southern L...: Light in August, Final Impressions 85 56 Jul 06, 2014 12:51PM  
On the Southern L...: Light in August, Initial Impressions 55 48 May 28, 2014 09:15PM  
GREAT BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 7 99 Apr 23, 2014 02:40PM  
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William Cuthbert Faulkner was a Nobel Prize-winning American novelist and short story writer. One of the most influential writers of the twentieth century, his reputation is based mostly on his novels, novellas, and short stories. He was also a published poet and an occasional screenwriter.
The majority of his works are based in his native state of Mississippi. Though his work was published as earl
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More about William Faulkner...
The Sound and the Fury As I Lay Dying Absalom, Absalom! A Rose for Emily Go Down, Moses

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“Memory believes before knowing remembers.

[Light in August]”
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“Now she hates me. I have taught her that, at least.” 56 likes
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