Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"'s Reviews > The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
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Dec 27, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: started-it-hated-it

Okay, here I go with another one of my dissenting viewpoints. This was my first attempt at reading Faulkner, and I assure you it will be my last.

I don't know how this pile of crap ever got published, let alone became a classic! It's absolutely unreadable! Pure upchuck in print. (As always, just my opinion, so don't be offended if you like the book.)
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message 1: by Judy (new)

Judy I second you on Faulkner in general! I majored in English lit. and language at college, and the day I graduated a weight fell off my shoulders as I realised I would NEVER AGAIN have to read something I didn't like just because someone else thought it was "great literature". Faulkner is up at the top of that list. I am of the "style should be transparent, like a window pane" school - Faulkner's just stops you seeing through it to the view.

message 2: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Another vote here to put Faulkner in the trash masher!

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Well, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one! I guess I'm just more vocal about it than other people.

Judy, with regard to your window pane analogy, I'd have to say Faulkner goes for the "smokescreen compounded by a bad acid trip" school of writing. ;-)

message 4: by Julie (new)

Julie Jeannette,

I tried with The Sound and the Fury years ago. Ironically it is the famous speech from Macbeth from which the title was taken that sums up best my feelings re: Faulkner's writing: "It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing"

message 5: by Rachel (new)

Rachel I could only remember the "signifying nothing" part, but "told by an idiot" is appropriate too!

Hermien I was really looking forward to reading this book, it had all the ingredients I like, but what a struggle. I gave up.

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" With all the glowing reviews, you'd think it would at least be readable. Good for you, letting it go.

Todd Libasci Try it again, but with help. If I hadn't read it in college, where I had guidance, I never would have made sense of it. But when you have the keys to the locks, it's extraordinary. I'm re-reading it now after 25 years or so, and it's just devastatingly tragic and beautiful.

I don't want to be one of those people who says "You just get back to your Danielle Steel" or something like that, but suffice it to say this is NOT a book to take lightly or to read while on the elliptical.

Hermien Sorry Todd. Going by what I've read so far and seeing the books you have abandoned, I think I'll trust my own judgment.

message 10: by Todd (last edited Jan 23, 2012 03:48PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Todd Libasci It's a free country :-) And I understand; I won't be reading Ulysses anytime soon, with or without help!

Which of my abandoneds do you think I should go back to? I definitely disliked Hotel Iris, but A Son Of The Circus and A Suitable Boy really were more of a "not in the mood for this right now" thing. I could be persuaded!

Regardless, Happy Reading!

message 11: by Todd (new) - rated it 5 stars

Todd Libasci p.s. Clearly I'm a typical American - saying "it's a free country" without seeing where you're from! (Not that Australia isn't a free country - you know what I mean :-)) Mea culpa.

message 12: by Todd (new) - rated it 5 stars

Todd Libasci p.p.s. @Hermien: OK, be fair! I just looked at your "read" list and we agree on quite a few. Granted, I haven't done much reading in Dutch/Flemish ;-), but I saw a handful that we both rated as 5 stars.

Hermien I was ready to reinstate the book after the first paragraph, but then I read your comment about Danielle Steel and took offence. I'm over that now, so will give The Sound & the Fury another go. I loved the film which I say many years ago.

I liked both A Son of the Circus (though not Irving's best) and A Suitable Boy, but life's too short and there are too many books to spend time reading something that doesn't appeal. And taste is a very personal thing.

I do like Doonsbury by the way.

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" "You just get back to your Danielle Steel"

Haaaa!! Hardly.
I've said a gazillion times here on Good Reads, there's no accounting for tastes.

message 15: by Julie (new)

Julie There's also no accounting for spelling. I just (re)read through this thread- misspelled your name, I did. Howzat? All that Daniel Steal I've been reading. Oiks.

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Julie, I noticed that a few days ago when I replied to Hermien's comment. It's more common than you'd think, even among my long-time friends. That double n just comes out of people's fingers.

message 17: by Julie (new)

Julie Then I won't correct it. A moment in time :)

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" From back when you didn't love me. sniff, sniff ;-)

message 19: by Todd (new) - rated it 5 stars

Todd Libasci @All: I was not making a comment about Danielle Steel - I was making a comment about the kind of people who automatically come back and make snarky comments like that. I see so much of that - "You don't like my favorite book? Well, you just stick to your Dan Brown" or whatever. I was trying to make clear that I was very deliberately NOT saying that.

@Jeanette: you quoted me out of context. I was not saying that, I was quoting it.

@Hermien: I agree SotC was not one of his best. It was the first of his books since pre-Garp that put me off. I didn't think Widow For One Year was his best work either, but...I don't know, at least I still felt like I was reading John Irving.

As for A Suitable Boy, looking back I now recall that it's not available for Kindle and, frankly, I was tired of holding it!

Judy back in 2008 addressed Faulkner in general, and I can't disagree. Aside from The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, I find him unreadable. Someday I should take a class in Absalom, Absalom so I can make sense of it.

Please, please re-read what I said. Apologies if I nevertheless offend.

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Oh, Todd, I got what you were saying. I just thought it was funny that you chose her as an example. And thank you for coming back to clarify. I have had people say things like that on my reviews, without even bothering to look at my shelves and see that I appreciate some good literature. And what really bothers me when they make those comments is that they have often not even read my entire review and seen that I've been relatively fair-minded in my assessment.

Faulkner is just one of those authors I just have to let go. Now, A Suitable Boy, that's one I'd like to read someday.

message 21: by Todd (new) - rated it 5 stars

Todd Libasci Well it'll keep you busy for a good long while!

message 22: by Julie (new)

Julie Todd- no offense taken at all. I got what you were saying, but it did make me giggle, because I know Jeanette (and well enough by now to spell her name correctly!). It's that thinking of Jeanette and Danielle Steele in the same brain breath is pretty dang hilarious. (Oh, and I'm not a DS hater, really, so anyone reading this, please, let's not go there).

I don't know that many would approach Faulkner on a whim, expecting an easy read, so the admonition wasn't necessary. But I can see where reading Faulkner with a "guide" as it were would be of great benefit. It is admirable and awesome that you would mount a passionate defense for a book you so admire.

message 23: by Todd (new) - rated it 5 stars

Todd Libasci Well that's better!

Seriously, thanks. Wouldn't want you to think I'm THAT much of a jerk. Well, time to get back to reading Homer in the original Greek ;-)

message 24: by Todd (new) - rated it 5 stars

Todd Libasci And with that I'm going to quit while I'm ahead. G'night, y'all.

Suzanne Jeanette, did you ever meet someone who was hard to get to know, but when you did, it was so worth it? That is like this book. I’ve got to go with Todd on this. S&F is a very complex book that needs “keys” to unlock it. I understand if you don’t want to bother. It is a lot of work. A lot. But once you get it, it is a complex and beautiful book, once one of my very favorites. And it has a lot to do with the strange subculture of the American South and some people appreciate this aspect of the book more than others. I loved S&F in college (being descended from some pretty strange Southerners myself), but I have to admit, that was a long time ago, and I may have lost brain cells since then, or perhaps I’ve gotten lazy. A recent reading was difficult, but if I had more time I would try to recapture the magic. However, I don’t have the luxury anymore of being a 20-something college student who had twice the energy I have now and could focus on art. Too busy surviving here, so for now I too will content myself with reading things that are more accessible. Someday when I’m retired (if I ever get to), perhaps I’ll revisit S&F when I can give it the attention it deserves. (Of course, by then, the brain cell issue may be insurmountable.)
I understand how, if you’ve never been led through it by a college professor and other students or a book of literary criticism, it might be off-putting. But don’t be too quick to judge on a surface level. There is then the question of whether one “should” have to work that hard, but that’s an individual preference. There are those of us who know it’s worth it, because we’ve experienced the reward.

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Todd wrote: "Well, time to get back to reading Homer in the original Greek ;-)"

He he, good luck with that. We'll look forward to your review written in Greek.

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Suzanne wrote: "However, I don’t have the luxury anymore of being a 20-something college student who had twice the energy I have now and could focus on art. Too busy surviving here, so for now I too will content myself with reading things that are more accessible."
Bingo, Suzanne. Not only do I not have the energy, I don't have the desire or the need to prove that I can get through the impenetrable stuff. I had an amazing college prof from whom I took American Lit, English Lit, Shakespeare, and even an Ethics and Values class that included a lot of literature. He guided us through so many works that would have been impossible for me on my own. So I do know what you're saying about having a guide.
As for Faulkner, for me it really comes down to personal reading taste, and also the feeling that there's no need for any author to deliberately make something so hard to get through, which goes back to what you said about whether one "should" have to work that hard.

Suzanne It's too bad you started with what is probably his most unconventional work. Other Faulkner novels are not easy, but nothing as unusual as this. But you are probably just not on his "frequency." As unusual and as difficult as it is, and whether one likes this book or not, S&F pushes the envelope in the fiction genre and I'm a big believer in that for its own sake. Otherwise, how does art evolve? Writers, just like painters or any other creative types, have to try new methods and mediums to find how best to express themselves. I have respect for that.

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" I'm definitely not on his frequency. And you don't know me, but Julie knows I can be a very picky reader. And getting pickier as I get older. I used to be a lot more experimental as a reader, and I will still try a lot of new things, but give myself permission to dump them without guilt if I find myself wishing I were reading something else.

Suzanne Absolutely. And you should dump a book that you're not enjoying. There are plenty of good books out there, more than enough to keep all of us, with our varied tastes, happy.

Wlwarner Over a period of 40 years, I made four separate attempts to read this book. Three of them were unsuccessful; I could not get my head around the opening section. The fourth time was the charm, though; Faulkner's writing fell together wonderfully for me, and I now consider The Sound and the Fury one of the most enjoyable reading experiences of my life. So you might consider giving it a second chance sometime. And bear in mind, the coherence of the writing in The Sound and the Fury increases with each section. That is, the novel becomes clearer and more focused -- and more interesting to read -- as you move from beginning to end.

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Thank you, Wlwarner, for explaining this to me! No one has ever told me that about the way the book is constructed. For me it was like he just puked the words out on the page and I didn't want to deal with it. I will definitely give it another try sometime in the future, given that you made four tries and ended up giving it five stars. I have a "three strikes, you're out" policy with books I think I should read but can't get into. Looks like four was the charm for you.

Brandon You know, Faulkner's not for everyone. He's my favorite writer, and even I know that he can be aggravating.It's like how I hate the Scarlet Letter or Uncle Tom's Cabin; different people like different things. I'm just here to say I'm not offended. :)

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Thanks for checking in, Brandon. I'm not offended either, when people hate authors I love. It surprises me here on Good Reads how often people will go deliberately looking for unfavorable reviews of books they love, just so they can argue with the reviewer. I've pretty much stopped writing reviews of books I dislike so I don't have to deal with the argumentative types.
I'm with you on Uncle Tom's Cabin. I loved Scarlet Letter when I read it ages ago, but I was recently looking through it and wondering how I ever made it through. I think I just had a good teacher.

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" If I feel the urge to write a review of the "only idiots will like this" variety, I usually just one-star it and don't write anything at all. Saves me a lot of grief. I take enough flak already for disliking certain books everyone else seems to love.

message 36: by Petrov (last edited Oct 10, 2013 08:00PM) (new)

Petrov Never have I gone through such a radical change in opinion. It is now one of my favourite books, and I couldn't disagree more with this review. Nothing I could write could do this book justice.

message 37: by Tom (new) - rated it 1 star

Tom I don't offer any apology, it is trash. I see you gave it one star the same as I. I gave it one because there are no minus signs available.

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Ha ha. Tom. Amen on the minus signs. There are some books that just deserve about a negative-2 rating.

message 39: by Craig (new) - rated it 1 star

Craig i'm with you. i found it an absolute chore trying to read this book. i hated it.

message 40: by Todd (new) - rated it 5 stars

Todd Read Absolom, Absolom! first. The Sound and Fury involves the same family, 50 or 60 years later, and without the backstory SAF would be hard to slog through at first. It's a novel of pure beauty though, almost to a fault.

General H. Sassafras Hmmm...well, what is so horrible about Faulkner?

Bohemondus This is not a classic book. I don't know if is a book.

message 43: by Todd (new) - rated it 5 stars

Todd Libasci It helps to know what the book is and why it is what it is. For a brief introduction, is not bad.

message 44: by Kennedy (new) - added it

Kennedy If you're interested in trying to read it again I've heard there's a version that's highlighted to show you which parts match up in the first section. Makes it far easier to read.

message 45: by Bruce (new) - rated it 1 star

Bruce Kennedy, do you know what version that is?

Henry The burden of creating a readable book falls on the writer not the reader.

This book had me doing all sorts of chores around the house, anything to get out of reading it

message 47: by Bec (new) - rated it 1 star

Bec Sachse I am also in the small 5 percent that gave this book 1 star and I am so glad that I am not alone.

If I feel the need to chuck a book through a Starbucks window, simply because it is pissing me off, clearly I am not enjoying the reading experience.

Hence my 1 star.

Apologies for my poor grammar I'm writing Faulker style with a complete lack of anything that makes sense.

message 48: by Ken (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ken Suzanne wrote: "Jeanette, did you ever meet someone who was hard to get to know, but when you did, it was so worth it? That is like this book. I’ve got to go with Todd on this. S&F is a very complex book that n..."

Suzanne, I do hope you can take the time to read for pleasure and escape the struggle to survive. It seems the Compton's of The Sound and Fury spend all their energy just surviving, and that is why they're doomed.

Tiago Please guys. Read the book really slowly, No hurry at all. Guide yourself with the reviews for each chapter and let thia incredible book blossom.

message 50: by Robert (new)

Robert Kettering Yep, an acquired taste, often forced on the meek and unwary by sadistic-pretentious teachers. Like Limburger cheese, only starving people dare eat it... until later they find they like it.

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