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A Fable

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  3,939 ratings  ·  139 reviews
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.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published December 12th 1977 by Vintage (first published 1954)
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Average rating 3.54  · 
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 ·  3,939 ratings  ·  139 reviews

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Pradnya K.
Sep 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Took a long time to turn the last page. I feel relieved, not coz I ended it but happy to have read it. Quite a writer Faulkner is.
I'd call it a challenging read as the story would never come across easily. The developments are far too measly compared to the detailed description. If it's a story you want, don't bother to read this. 

Set amidst the world war background where one unit of army goes for mutiny under the leader 'corporal' who is center point of mass fury as he brings war to the end. To
J.M. Hushour
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"All you can kill is man's meat. You can't kill his voice."

It's bemusing how this, probably the pinnacle of Faulkner's testing the limits of his own style, can be seen as such a flawed work. On the one hand, it is one of his most difficult works, up there with "The Sound and the Fury". On the other hand, it's dense, closely-packed poetics take his dizzying run-on madness to a whole new level, largely because of its main idea: Christ returned as a WWI frontline corporal who, with 12 other soldier
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ar
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pulitzers-read
What can I say? It's Faulkner. Even when he's not at his best (which I think applies to 'A Fable'), he's still a magnificent writer and a literary genius. I started this one a long time ago, and then got sidetracked by other things at about one-third of the way in. Because of the time lapse since when I put it down and because it's Faulkner, I just started all over again. And it's a hard slog in the beginning. The farther along you muddle through, though, the clearer everything gets. That's the ...more
Chad Bearden
Jun 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Trenton Judson
Jul 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Michael David
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: pulitzer
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 was readable.
A Fa
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, american, 1950s, war
When in 1889 Chekhov acquired a set of Dostoevsky's works at his agent's (Suvorin) book store he wrote that Dostoevsky's writing was lengthy and lacked humility.

It seems to me that what he meant was that his texts weren't just full of meticulous lengthy descriptions, Dostoevsky didn't just shared his conjectures about life with the reader, but, rather, conveyed the author's perceptions of things to them. The artist shows off his ability to perceive life in a very slow motion, so the reader woul
K.M. Weiland
Aug 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
This is an insanely difficult book that buries its flashes of brilliance in a welter of incomprehensibility.
Christopher Sutch
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
David Vincent
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The brilliance of William Faulkner.
Jun 02, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes Faulkner’s highly mannered style gets in the way of his ideas rather than enhancing them.
Apr 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...
A Fable was the book that Faulkner thought was his best. While I have loved two others more, this is an incredible story of war.

It is the spring of 1918, and one regiment of the French army refuses to fight. Every soldier below the rank of sargeant puts down his guns and refuses to move on the Germans. And the Germans respond in the same way! They do not take advantage of the situation. And soon it spreads. No weapons are fired all morning along the entire western front.

One would think this migh
May 24, 2008 rated it liked it
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 feel fo
Sep 12, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Celia Pundel
May 31, 2012 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book by William Faulkner won the Pulitzer Prize in 1955 and was the first of two Pulitzer Prizes won by this author. I find Faulkner's writing style confusing and the story jumps around to various sub plots making it difficult to follow. The story is about a French regiment in WW1 involved in a mutiny. Anyone interested in a good WW1 story should read "One of Ours" by Willa Cather which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923. I give Faulkner's "A Fable" 2 stars. ...more
Kate Mcphail
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
"If I were evil, I would hate and fear him. If I were a saint, I would weep. If I were wise, and both or either, I would despair." ...more
Jose Garcia
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A Fable is an allegoric story based on the final days of Jesus Christ and is written by William Faulkner. The novel takes place during World War I most specifically in the trenches in France. A Fable stretches through a course of one week in which the main character is “Corporal Stephen”, whom narrates from his point of view in the trenches of France. William Faulkner personally puts into his novel his own experience in World War I. Faulkner is a veteran of World War I, so when reading upon his ...more
Stephen Joseph
Jan 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Review Type: First Impression
Spoilers: Yes
Basic Recommendation: Don't start your Faulkner journey here. Good read though.

First off, William Faulkner is one of my favorite authors. I'm kind of a fan-boy actually, so that must be the preface to this. His ability to stall time and pin a single moment down while he paints it from all angles in a flowing stream-of-consciousness is stunning and the experience I get from reading it is at once personal and impersonal. This book is no exception in that r
Bob Wake
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I finished A Fable at 4:30 in the morning. The final 150 pages or so were unputdownable, otherwise I might have called it a night before finishing and saved pages for another day. (I started reading a week earlier at a more restrained pace.) Although I’ve read much of Faulkner’s major work over the years, I’d stayed away from A Fable (and Requiem for a Nun, not yet tackled) because of secondhand dismissals of “late” Faulkner representing a diminishing of his ferocious talent. As regards A Fable, ...more
Brian Willis
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was the book Faulkner toiled on intermittently for 10 years and wanted to be his magnus opus. He takes the week of the passion of Christ, what is called Holy Week by Catholics, and converts it into a fable story told during the First World War. What really sets the book apart is that all of the symbiology and tiny moments and characters of what is perhaps the Greatest Story Ever Told and converts them into an allegory for humanity's behavior during the pressures of wartime.

The Jesus figure
Joe Davoust
Feb 07, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Keith Cottrell
Mar 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Not the best novel by William Faulkner, A Fable is bedeviled by the author's unfamiliarity with the French character and idiom. Only in the middle, where there is a set piece about a three-legged race horse does the book come alive, because Faulkner for once was on familiar ground.

There are passages which are equal to the best that Faulkner ever wrote, but for the most part, reading this book is a chore; and the pieces do not fit together particularly well. There are also odd echoes of his Nobe
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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 set in his native state of Mississippi. Though his work was published as early

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