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Soldiers' Pay

3.39  ·  Rating Details ·  915 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
A group of soldiers travel by train across the United States in the aftermath of the First World War. One of them is horribly scarred, blind and almost entirely mute. Moved by his condition, a few civilian fellow travellers decided to see him home to Georgia, to a family who believed him dead, and a fiancée who grew tired of waiting. Faulkner's first novel deals powerfully ...more
Paperback, 265 pages
Published October 5th 2000 by Vintage Classics (first published 1926)
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Nicholas Hansen
Nov 19, 2010 Nicholas Hansen rated it it was amazing
I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone who adores powerful and poetic imagery. The plot of the story is a little bland, it's almost soap operaish, but the characters who drive the narrative are anything but your typical soap stars. They are real and engaging individuals and you find yourself amazed at how their plights tug at your heart. The skillful way in which Faulkner uses language to tell this story will impress even the least literary individual. If you are to read only one boo ...more
Kamil
It's always interesting to read a debut novel of such a big literary name. Someone that stood a test of time and produced at least 4 novels (The Sound and the Fury, Light in August and As I Lay Dying, Absalom, Absalom) that are considered to be among absolute best of 20 century.
However Soldier's Pay proves that Faulkner worked his way to genius, as his debut has lots of flows and the merit doesn't really strike strongly enough through melodramatic plot.
There are moments when you think, yes, th
...more
Michael
William Faulkner's novels have long been a serious reading gap for me, one I intended to fill as I worked my way through Time Magazine's list of the greatest 100 English-language novels published since 1923. Faulkner is represented twice on that list (The Sound and the Fury and Light in August), but of course, Faulkner comes with a reputation of being "difficult" and "intimidating." I figured it might be constructive if I just started at the beginning, with Faulkner's first novel, and work my wa ...more
Danny Taylor
Feb 08, 2014 Danny Taylor rated it really liked it
William Faulkner's debut novel is a melodrama about World War I soldiers returning to a small town in Georgia, where the women they left behind struggle, like them, to put the pieces back together. Similar to all Faulkner's work, the structure is experimental, jumping around places and points-of-view, juxtaposing dialogue with parenthetical asides to relate unspoken thought processes, and in one chapter, attempting to sententiously capture the perspective of multiple characters at once, includin ...more
Judy
Aug 06, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it
This early Faulkner novel was the first I've read by him, but I'll definitely go on to more. I was attracted to this by its subject matter, as I've been reading a lot about the First World War lately, and this is an account of a wounded, dying soldier who returns to his home in Georgia and his unfaithful sweetheart.

I found the story moving, but the book really exerts a grip because of its writing style and intense, overheated atmosphere. 'Soldiers' Pay' can be confusing at times, as some of it
...more
K.M. Weiland
Jun 20, 2012 K.M. Weiland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, two really good Faulkner books in a row (this and The Reivers) - I could get used to this! Here we find one of Faulkner's earliest books, one free of the pomposity and obscurity of his later works and also one that offers some genuinely noble and likable characters. Going into another WWI-themed novel, I admit was cringing a bit in fear that it would turn out to be another Fable, but not so. Here, he gives a compelling and touching look at the men and women whose lives were touched - and mo ...more
Mike
Jul 24, 2012 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: faulkner fans, those interested in the time setting
Shelves: southern
At its best when Faulkner is just himself, but much of the time it tries too hard to resonate. The dialogue is often particularly uncomfortable. Felt more like an old movie screenplay than anything else and it’s more interesting as Faulkner’s first novel than as a novel in itself. 2.75 stars.
Don
Sep 18, 2009 Don rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-novel
This was Faulkner's first book and all the issues that haunted his later work were already in place. The story of a group of returning WWI warriors who encounter each other on a train heading across the State's. One is horribly scarred, listless and ill. Together with a 'long, black woman', they resolve to take him back to his home in Georgia.
So a tableaux of characters is brought together to explore the emotions of loss and decline, with the notion that 'sex and death' are the front and back do
...more
Tom
Dec 19, 2011 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Faulkner's first published novel showcases what is clearly a preternatural style of prose — essentially poetry. Every paragraph is a jewel, and I found myself rereading whole chunks of descriptive, atmospheric, scene-setting sentences ALOUD. That aside, his characters are less wonderfully drawn. A lot of didactic dialogue and stagy situations in a small southern town as soldiers return home from the first World War.
Ben
Mar 17, 2009 Ben rated it it was ok
This was Faulkner's first book. It does not appear to have been closely edited and overall it's too flashy in its style. At points it felt like the primary purpose was to showcase a broad range of adverbs and literary references. It has two or three too many characters, and it's at least a hundred pages too long.

The book also starts from a place of, let's generously call it historically-influenced under-estimation, with regard to women and minorities.

Buried under that mess is a good, sad, funn
...more
Adrian Astur Alvarez
Though not as accomplished as his later novels, Soldiers' Pay still has moments of revelation, which reveal Faulkner willing to bend language to get at a feeling.

"They greeted him with the effusiveness of people who are brought together by invitation yet are not quite certain of themselves and of the spirit of the invitation; in this case the eternal country boys of one national mental state, lost in the comparative metropolitan atmosphere of one diametrically opposed to it. To feel provincial:
...more
Paula
Aug 21, 2007 Paula rated it it was ok
I read this because I was compelled by my passion for Faulkner's work to begin at the beginning-- I'm as curious about an author's personal history as I am about his books. Faulkner claimed to be a fighter pilot in WWI, although historical records make it seem as if he never saw action. I think his fighter pilot fantasy was enfleshed in the Sartoris epics, while this story illuminates a war and homecoming still very fresh in young Faulkner's consciousness. His description of Donald's deteriorati ...more
Sookie
Dec 31, 2015 Sookie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, 2016
This is one of those books that oscillates between two and four stars with every chapter change. While Faulkner is redundant while describing nature, his description of Donald's health's decay is fascinating and quite chilling. World War 1 was confusing enough for many as the war changed perception of many people about the world and the political aspects of it. Faulkner lets these things simmer in the background while he draws attention to lives of people who are directly affected by it. Some of ...more
Calvin
Feb 03, 2012 Calvin added it
Shelves: novels
Not a bad novel, although there is that very odd situation where the main character in the first 3rd of the novel just sort of leaves and never returns and two other characters become the leads in the last 2/3rds of the book.
The themes that dominated Faulkner's are clearly visible here and really do get a bit of a run through, so although his first novel and not up to the classics that shortly followed it is well worth a read.
But the real reason I love this book is after I read it, I approach
...more
Christopher Sutch
Nov 27, 2011 Christopher Sutch rated it really liked it
Faulkner's first novel is surprisingly good. It's obviously a first novel, and it has some problems (notably, some pronoun issues in the first chapter, and some unsubtle artiness), but does contain a compelling plot and some extraordinarily beautiful writing in some parts. He was obviously influenced by Pound and Eliot, and his early roots in painting show up to good effect here. Chapter Five, with its caustic response to Fitzgerald's early work is terrific. The racial element is a tad disturbin ...more
William Ramsay
This was William Faulkner's first novel. It's about a dying soldier from the First World War going home to end his days. It tells of the girl he left behind, who has now had second thoughts about him, and a woman who wants to marry him. It has echoes of the greatest of Faulkner, but it seems to me he was searching for a voice in the book and didn't quite find it. He was very much influenced by the stream of consciousness people, who were working about the time he wrote it and that takes away sli ...more
Vivian
Mar 17, 2010 Vivian rated it really liked it
Ah, Faulkner! It's been a while since I read a book by Faulkner just for enjoyment. What a master! This is not one of his most well known books--it reads more like popular fiction, with characters not quite as well drawn as some of his other works. But there's the drama of the wounded hero, but beautiful woman who can't make up her mind, the loyal friends. Though this isn't strictly a "war novel," there are glimpses of war scenes and some about the effects of the war both on soldiers and on thos ...more
Jenny
Jan 29, 2014 Jenny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
I might be a bit too harsh toward this, but it feels all the more frustrating to me because there's plenty to like about it, but all that is buried underneath a lot of melodramatic and overwrought crap. The central story of a disabled, dying war veteran that no one knows what to do with is compelling. But here, Faulkner can't seem to actually tell that story, because he gets bogged down with what feel like a million uninteresting side stories. It's interesting as his first novel but that's about ...more
Travis
Jul 08, 2008 Travis rated it really liked it
It's Faulkner, what more needs to be said? Ok, its soldiers returning from war on a train.

"What can equal a mother’s love? Except a good drink of whiskey"

Thats bourbon, by the way not scotch or irish whisky.

"The saddest thing about love too is that not only the love cannot last for ever, but even the heartbreak is soon forgotten."
JD
Jan 31, 2013 JD rated it really liked it
Hell, just gonna give this book a 5. The language was insane. I felt immersed in deep Southern tradition right? Id quote some of it but I'm on a phone right now.

I have decided that this book is not a 5 on further review.
David Flett
Dec 18, 2016 David Flett rated it liked it
Faulkner's first. Despite the flaws some beautiful writing.
Ally
Mar 03, 2016 Ally rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This novel, Faulkner's first, is a bit of a mess. Although he had interesting things to say about post-WW1 America, he did not say them particularly clearly or with much empathy. This can be summed up as a novel that is the product of its time (1920's) and place (American south). There is persistent and pervasive misogyny, racism, and abuse throughout the novel. The characters are mostly two-dimensional and stereotypical, and those who have even a semblance of complexity are white men.

The focus
...more
Bob Atwood
I just did not enjoy it. It was hard to follow the jumping between characters. The plot did not grab me. I did good to finish.
Mike
Feb 28, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-owned
Faulkner's first published novel (although not the first one he wrote) is also his best early effort before he unleashed The Sound and the Fury on the world. In Soldiers' Pay Faulkner is already experimenting with fragmented narrative, multiple perspectives, and a type of stream-of-consciousness technique that he would perfect in later works. We also get to see some early examples of classic Faulkner stylistic traits: his first use of the word "myriad," mules as symbols, a character named "Loosh ...more
Mat
Sep 27, 2014 Mat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Faulkner's first book is a harrowing tale of the horrors of war - not only those directly affected but those indirectly affected as well. The best way to describe this book would be to call it a 'promising start' for an up-and-coming novelist who would later go on to win the Pulitzer Prize.

This is no Absalom! Absalom! or Light in August even but it does have its moments and the storyline, while not as engaging as his later works, is compelling enough to make the reader keep going.
Some of the de
...more
José Manuel
Jan 12, 2017 José Manuel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Primera novela de Faulkner que ya sabe a Faulkner, aunque no sea una de sus cimas. Arranca con una situación extraña, casi surrealista, y unos personajes cuyos grotescos comportamientos no acaban de entenderse hasta mucho más adelante, cuando nos hemos metido en la historia.
Los soldados vuelven a casa tras la Primera Guerra Mundial en la confianza que el retorno les restañe las heridas (no solo físicas) del conflicto. Una pequeña población de Georgia los recibe y rinde homenaje; a la admiración
...more
Brock Silvey
Aug 10, 2015 Brock Silvey rated it really liked it
Though I'm a huge fan of Faulkner and have read nearly all of his books, I somehow never got around to reading this, his first. It's about one of my favorite topics, World War I, or rather the aftermath of the war and how it permanently changed the American psyche. The story is a bit melodramatic and the writing a bit forced; you can tell Faulkner was a young writer trying too hard to make an impression. But it displays many of the qualities that would later make him such an excellent writer. It ...more
Nate
Feb 15, 2008 Nate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: john mccain
rounded up from 2.5 stars. wasn't really into this - faulkner's writing style at this point was really tedious and overdramatic. constant use of pronouns at the beginning of chapters made it difficult to tell what was going on as far as what characters were involved in the scene. this 'experimental' writing style works in the sound and the fury or as i lay dying when the format is a first person narrative with someone with either severe mental problems or mental retardation, but when its a third ...more
Emily
Sep 15, 2015 Emily rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Faulkner fans
Recommended to Emily by: I plan to read all 19 of his novels; this is No. 1
"Why can't a man be very happy or very unhappy? It's only a sort of pale mixture of the two. Like beer when you want a shot--or a drink of water. Neither one nor the other."

"And that is already the curse of our civilization--Things, Possessions, to which we are slaves, which require us to either labor honestly at least eight hours a day or do something illegal so as to keep them painted or dressed in the latest mode or filled with whisky or gasoline."

"but as we grow older what we are loses impor
...more
Natalie
Mar 13, 2009 Natalie rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Faulkner. Just amazing in passages and so laborious in others. This book is about sex, death, and the idiotic lunacy of being human... in wartime, so all of the above even more than usual. I had to say I liked it, although I also REALLY liked it and I also thought it was just ok... these ratings are getting pretty meaningless as I go along, and require a lot more than a little blurb. But overall, this book is worth reading. Faulkner's view of human nature as flawed drips from every overly charac ...more
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The Bookhouse Boys: Soldiers' Pay 65 15 Nov 30, 2011 05:43PM  
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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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