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The Portable Faulkner
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The Portable Faulkner

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  740 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
In prose of biblical grandeur and feverish intensity, William Faulkner reconstructed the history of the American South as a tragic legend of courage and cruelty, gallantry and greed, futile nobility and obscene crimes. No single volume better conveys the scope of Faulkner's vision than The Portable Faulkner.

Edited by Malcolm Cowley
Hardcover, The Viking Portable Library #18, 756 pages
Published 1946 by The Viking Press
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If you're curious about the powers of William Faulkner but you're intimidated by his long, loopy sentences and dense structures (which is totally understandable) then THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU.

Cowley's introduction (eloquent, informative) was praised as "splendid" by Faulkner himself.

The selections are generous, form a larger social narrative, are representative of his work in a larger context but can be read as separate peices all their own. Short stories, excerpts from novels, even a detailed c
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Faulkner fans/those with a strong curiosity about Faulkner
I think I've read most of the stuff in here, probably not all. But the rating and review are specifically for The Bear, which I read years ago, and a second time (at least) much more recently.

The Bear is a terrific long short story (novella, if you will) which is very representative of Faulkner's writing in many ways: the setting, the language, the stream of consciousness style in certain places, the references to the history of his mythical Mississippi county. Even though I'm sure I got more ou
The Master
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stories. They endured.
Apr 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Doreen Nidey
Recommended to Suzi by: came from luck out of the ether
I highly recommend Malcolm Cowley's slicing, dicing and rearranging the highlights of Faulkner's works. Faulkner himself was very impressed with his editor's vision of his works, and said so. This book is the best way to dive into Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha (god help with the spelling of that world) County. Because Faulkner re-wrote so many things, literary overlaps, that Cowley parsed and cut and put together this indispensable book. It has the Bear and Spotted Horses and all the historical tales ...more
Derrick Biederman
This is a collection of stories from several novels and shorts set in Faulkner's brainchild of Yoknapatawpha County. There are several stories, some stand-outs being "The Courthouse", "Was", "A Rose for Emily" and the "The Bear". "The Bear" in particular took my breath away.

This collection would be a great way for someone new to Faulkner to break into his sometimes dense writing style, as the stories are collected from different sources and, though ordered chronologically (by setting, not publi
The best and worst of Faulkner. You get the simple poignancy of the Compson family stories, the spooky 'Southern Gothic' in pieces like "A Rose For Emily," but also the needlessly incomprehensible rambling in "Spotted Horses."
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The five stars are for Malcolm Cowley, whose introductory comments were invaluable. As for Faulkner himself, I don't know what to say.
Jan 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read-lit
Unlike most of the Viking Portables, which are just an anthology of a particular author or group's work, the Portable Faulkner actually serves a useful purpose. As you probably know, most of Faulkner's work takes place in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, and this volume collects stories and novel excerpts that give you a sense of the county's history, and arranges them chronologically (by the order in which they took place, not by the order in which Faulkner wrote them). If (like ...more
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some reading is effortless, even some of Faulkner's writings. However, the first stories in this historically-ordered collection -- because they delve into truly foreign cultures/peoples in old Mississippi -- are kinda tricky. One day I couldn't make heads or tails of the dialog, and then the next it would click. I think it is like being someone who appreciates lots of different styles of music -- I know I don't listen to a whole opera, a great Mingus/Ellington jazz suite, hours of alt/indie roc ...more
Dec 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, american
magisterial, sometimes verbose. this book shows how all of his tales tie together, building a self-contained, convincing and emotive world, within mississippi, over several generations. in that sense it offers more than reading a single faulkner novel. the commentary (malcolm cowley) itself is a small work of art. to my impatient mind, some of the excerpts should have been more aggressively edited, some of the prose is purple, some of the themes are focused to a degree that invites parody (decli ...more
Timothy J
Nov 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-fiction
A great starting point for those who have never read Faulkner and intimidated by his reputation. Malcom Cowley's introduction a must before reading the book, which consists of short stories and selections from novels.

Stories and selections are arranged in chronological order as events occur in the fiction. This aids the reader in understanding the complex relation of events and characters that occur in Faulkner's fictional Yoknapotawha County. Faulkner had not written or published the stories in
Evelyn Wolff
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed it a lot.
Really tells how deeply the natives, blacks and whites including slave owners lives were interwoven with each other. We are take back into that time completely. Faulkner has such a deep love of nature and can take you into his deep experience of the natural world he lived in.
Katherine Jensen
When I bought this I did not realize that it had excerpts from his books. This is a good beginning for those who have never read him. Some of his writing is difficult to understand and this skips the difficult parts.
Nov 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this at my great grandmother's house when I was 19 (found it on my dad's old shelf of college books). One of the best books I've ever read in my life. "The Bear" and "Old Man" are worth it. Plus everything else. Kudos to Cowley.
Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great collection, and also the book that put Faulkner on the map. Malcolm Cowley is a remarkable man, and Faulkner was lucky to have him. Otherwise, who knows? Would anyone have read The Sound and the Fury?
Mar 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Picked this up because my dad loved Faulkner. Most of his stories are good, but a few make me go wtf? Decided to split reading the book in half to rest my brain.
Overall a great read. Truly love Faulkner. Good collection of stories
Jan 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
If you haven't read Faulkner, this is the way to do it. The notes are as interesting as the stories, and the collection covers a good range of his work. "A Rose for Emily" and "An Odor of Verbena" are two particular favorites of mine.
Tom Schulte
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Faulkner is one of my favorite nonfiction authors. His notoriously difficult reading opens doors to extreme and fantastic worlds. This collection is shorts and excerpts
Kevin Lucia
Jun 08, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
My first non-genre reading selection of the summer....
Thomas Walsh
required reading for any fan of Faulkner
Christopher Swann
Five stars simply for "The Bear," one of Faulkner's masterpieces. Otherwise, four stars for the collection as a whole.
Sep 02, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: so-close
I was rooting for the bear.
Mark Singer
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
What I remember most about reading Faulkner is the need for plenty of time and solitude to get into his world.
I really need to read this again...
Dec 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Faulkner's great!
Mar 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
GREAT indroduction to Faulkner.
I hated this book.
Feb 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Essential to help you understand Faulkner and his world.
Started this after listening to "S-Town", couldn't make it through - might try again another time.
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Aug 05, 2007
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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
More about William Faulkner...