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A Fable

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  2,290 ratings  ·  59 reviews
An allegorical story of World War I set in the trenches in France and dealing ostensibly with a mutiny in a French regiment.
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published December 12th 1977 by Turtleback Books (first published 1954)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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KeithTalent
At nine o'clock one morning in the spring of 1918, a regiment of the French army - every man below the rank of sergeant - refuses to take part in a futile assault on the German position. Strangely, the German line opposite fails to take advantage of the situation with a counter-attack, and by noon that day no guns are fired along the entire French line. By three o'clock in the afternoon, the entire western front has fallen silent. It emerges that a saintly French corporal, together with his twel ...more
Chris
Faulkner is starting to grow on me like unfamiliar music that gets better each time you hear it. It’s unbelievable that A Fable didn’t get the kind of attention it deserved when it was released in 1954. Although it won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1955, it was panned by critics across the board (is this only possible in literature?). A dark allegory to The Passion of Christ, it’s setting in the trenches of World War 1 was probably unsettling to the vast majority of it’s ...more
Trenton Judson
This book was terrible and I have no idea why it won the Pulitzer, short of that it was written by Willy Faulkner. I did not know how you could take the adventure, romance, and tragedy all out of war in a single novel until I read this, but Faulkner manages to do all of it. It was painstaking to finish this one, but I was hoping that there would be that Faulkner pay off where you just love the end of the book, where he brings everything together in a way that blows your mind, but this did not ha ...more
Tim
William Faulkner virgins about to break the seal with a copy of "A Fable" should be forced to reconsider — at gunpoint, if necessary.

Yes, "A Fable" is a cantankerous beast, a Pulitzer Prize winner often reviled as impenetrable and as Faulkner at his most difficult. Reading it for the first time (my 11th Faulkner novel) I find it both a little hard to figure out how it won the award and hard to understand why more readers don't seem to see its merits. Faulkner's worst, most frustrating habits are
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Christopher Sutch
I was pleasantly surprised by this long novel. Faulkner was a pilot during World War I, and while that experience is represented in several small incidents in his earlier novels, this novel's central focus is World War I (and while aircraft still figure in only one of the subplots, Faulkner's experience in the subject is clear). This book had its origins in a conversation Faulkner had with some Hollywood producers during World War II, asking the question, "What if the unknown soldier in 1919 Fra ...more
Chad Bearden
I don't mind dense and rambling novels, but when combined with 'repetitive' and 'opaque', the results are a far more challenging read than seems necessary. Faulkner was no doubt a brilliant writer, but by the time he wrote this, his fifteenth novel, he was less in need of talent than of an editor.

The plot itself is actually pretty straightforward: a French battalion in WWI lay down their arms and refuse to fight at the behest of a Christ-like corporal. Chaos ensues as the military powers-that-be
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Ben
Pulitzer 1955 - I finished this two days ago and have been thinking about this review since. When I started the Pulitzer reading I figured there would be some books I didn't like. Fortunately on average it seems to be about 10% - I've ready about 45 and there had been three I didn't like so I was due. And boy was I due. A Fable was Faulkner's 15th book and his first of 2 Pulitzer winners. The other, The Reivers, was for his last book 10 years later - I enjoyed the Reivers...it was readable.
A Fa
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Rifftrafft
this is silver-age stuff, a far cry from the Big Four (s&f, absalom, as i lay dying, light in august), but i liked this ok and some parts a great deal, the horse thief riff especially.

i went into this one with an enormous chip on my shoulder: with this book, faulkner stole both the pulitzer AND book award from william gaddis. weirdly both books have long knives for paris, or rather both authors have a lot to say about the american infatuation with that city. like an anti-lost generation fee
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Michael David
I believe that my personal preference with regard to novels is toward those which possess such an intricately-structured chaos that ultimately make sense by the end of the novel. Looking back, I think that Absalom, Absalom! is my most favourite novel because of how it ties the loose ends so well at the end of the novel. I think that the novel is Faulkner at the peak of his powers: he is both extremely dense, and yet extremely sensible. Everything absolutely makes sense at the end of it, and the ...more
Jayme
The only reason I am not giving this 1 star is because Faulkner utilizes a beautiful lexicon throughout A Fable. But that's pretty much the only redeeming quality. I can't believe I actually managed to push through and finish this book. It's strange, cause I like hypothetical scenarios, and I like non sequiturs, but this book just goes on and on. Perhaps I am more a fan of brevity than I previously suspected.

Oh, yeah. And Faulkner hates periods. As in, punctuation. And I LOVE punctuation. Love i
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K.M. Weiland
This is an insanely difficult book that buries its flashes of brilliance in a welter of incomprehensibility.
Mat
One of the most difficult Faulkner books i have read so far. As difficult and confusing to follow as Absalom, Absalom!, with the exception that the latter novel is an eloquently written tour de fource whereas A Fable is meandering, rambling, and even at times a rather opaque recounting of a story set in France during World War I. As another reviewer has already pointed out, the novel finishes very strongly in the final 1/4 but the first 3/4 of the novel are certainly not for the fainthearted. If ...more
Keith Cottrell
This novel is difficult... to say the least. The general idea is that there is this corporal who is very influential (a clear allegory to Jesus Christ) and he convinces a group of soldiers to disobey orders and not fight which causes WWI to take an unplanned 1 day hiatus. Eventually the powers that be get the war back on track and they have to decide what the punishment should be for all the soldiers that didn’t fight and specifically for this corporal and his 12 (yes 12) close followers. This p ...more
Robert Wechsler
This very odd Faulkner novel blew me away. It̕s much too long and repetitive and overdone and pretentious, but despite all that, it̕s great, very moving, somehow still affective. Even when it̕s hard to tell what̕s going on, not to mention what Faulkner is doing with his retelling of the Passion, the novel is compelling, I was caught up in Faulkner̕s passionate sentences and repetitions.
Celia Pundel
As good as it may be, I cannot stand Faulkner's writing style. Stream of consciousness. Either you hate it or you love it. Personally, I hate it.
Russell
This is probably the only novel that ever appeared EXACTLY the way Faulkner wanted it to appear, and it was the only one whose tepid reception really bothered him. In fact, despite its Pulitzer, the book's relative lack of success (in my opinion) is what caused him to retreat into the relatively childish stories of his later career. The down side to Faulkner's insistence on placing each word meticulously though, is that it generates a VERY difficult book to read. At times, it is almost like read ...more
Owen
If this book doesn’t come in dead last among my rankings of the National Book Award winners, I suspect it will be very near the bottom. It’s easily one of the worst books I’ve ever read.

Granted, this is William Faulkner, one of the greatest writers of all time, and granted, this novel won both the National Book Award (his second) and the Pulitzer. But having said that, his selection here does more to discredit the independence and courage of the respective juries than it does to give credit to t
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Adam
I find the concept of this book amazing: recasting the Christ story into World War I. The execution, unfortunately, left much to be desired.

This book presumes much from its readers. If you're not pretty well-versed in the gospels, you're going to miss most of the references. If you're not pretty well-versed in World War I history, you're not going to understand what's going on half the time. If you don't enjoy the stream-of-consciousness technique, or if you don't have the patience to follow the
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Hu Barcelos
This is one of those books that, before starting your reading, you should know what you're up against.

And that is - beautiful writing, which is some times exhausting (as in the paragraphs are huge, the dialogues are scarce, and so on); and most of all, you should realize this is a depiction of the last days of Jesus Christ, written in a different perspective, and in a differente environment. Faulkner focused so much in this attempt that every scene, every character and every idea that he has wri
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Steven
Am now into the second chapter and stopped to read other reviews. This book needs plenty of space and focus. If you are new to Faulkner do not start here. Start with his other Pulitzer winner THE REIVERS, or THE UNVANQUISHED or even INTRUDER IN THE DUST. Faulkner's density + the fog of war is an unappetizing morsel. More later.....
Esteban Gordon
On different levels, this novel is both a success and a failure. On one hand, the strident anti-war message and brilliant, tense scenes are, in some ways, a peak for Faulkner. On the other hand, the density of some parts and the, at times, obfuscation of the main anti-war thread keep a story everyone should read from being within the grasp of the average reader. Personally, I will take away from this novel two worthy ideas: one, that soldiers have the ability to stop war when they want by simply ...more
wally
i recall this one but vaguely...though the setting is the world war numbered one. of all the faulkner stories i read when i didn't have a clue though the one clue i was trailing was read faulkner...this one holds the most interest now for the subject matter. these republicans in the trenchs opposed by the democrats in the trenches over across the way, well, seems that two soldiers one on each side to give up the ghost of partisanship and pow-wow. see what gives. a kodak moment.
dan rather was too
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Max
This is way too messy to be as "moral" as Bloom and others think it is. Deeply, iridescently sad, like a lot of late Faulkner.
Lysergius
This novel won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1955. An allegorical story of World War I, set in the trenches in France and dealing ostensibly with a mutiny in a French regiment, it was originally considered a sharp departure for Faulkner. Recently it has come to be recognized as one of his major works and an essential part of the Faulkner "oeuvre." Faulkner himself fought in the war, and his descriptions of it "rise to magnificence," according to "The New York Times," and ...more
Dotty Dye
Not one of my all time favorites but there are some incredibly memorable moments in this book and I think with the right reading it could be seen as having lived up to the expectations of it's author. Will require at least another reading and a way to overcome the empty symbolism of the central allusion to the passion but it sticks with you and for this reason I think a bit of time will see it rise in literary esteem to the level of his more well known work.
Charles
Need to try this one again when I have the determination to be a less passive reader. Sometimes it is fantastic. I think one of the biggest stumbling blocks I encountered, especially with the first half of the novel, is WWI as the subject matter. If I had done my due diligence I would have researched as I read. But, without that kind of patience, I just wanted to read the darn thing. I'm going to wait about six months and then try it again.
Matt
There have only been two Faulkner novels' I could not finish. "Mosquitoes" and " A Fable". I had to return the former to my schools library because I was graduating and actually intend to finish. The later I gave up on. This is all of Faulkner's tell-tale habits and style at its worse. The backstories and side stories to side stories make it tough. I made it half way through, maybe I will finish this eventually.
Dan
I still don't know what I think of this one. At points I thought I'd give it 5 stars, at others 2. The writing of course was top notch throughout, but I lost interest when he does the Faulkner thing and goes into tangents whose relevance I couldn't quite comprehend. Relatively speaking its more linear than his other work. I tend to be skeptical of allegory in general, but I think I'll reread it someday.
Sandi
Pulitzer Fiction winner - 1955
Rachel
Started because it's the 1955 National Book Award winner. (I'm working on reading all the NBA winners.) I'm not finishing it because while I do like Faulkner, I'm not a huge fan of his war stories. In fact, I'm not really a fan of war stories in general. I wasn't up to reading a 400+ page war novel.

Next up on the NBA project: a book I've never heard of! (Ten North Frederick, by John O'Hara)
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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 Light in August Absalom, Absalom! A Rose for Emily

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“War is an episode, a crisis, a fever the purpose of which is to rid the body of fever. So the purpose of a war is to end the war.” 41 likes
“The phenomenon of war is its hermaphroditism: the principles of victory and of defeat inhabit the same body and the necessary opponent, enemy, is merely the bed they self-exhaust each other on.” 29 likes
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