Chazzbot's Reviews > Light in August

Light in August by William Faulkner
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's review
Sep 06, 2007

it was amazing

Like some bemused god looking down on his creations with a trace of empathy, but also with a hint of disdain at their hopeless bigotry, indolence, and willful ignorance, Faulkner's keen, cool eye for the way humans can be chilly in its precision. But there is no denying that Faulkner knows his characters and, by extension, his readers. This is a somewhat grim novel, with little evidence of hope for any of the characters who manage to walk away, but you will be hard pressed to find a more honest and unsentimental writer.

My favorite passage may provide an example of what I mean, a portrait of a wife who has been too patient for too long:

"She was waiting on the porch--a patient, beaten creature without sex demarcation at all save the neat screw of graying hair and the skirt--when the buggy drove up. It was as though instead of having been subtly slain and corrupted by the ruthless and bigoted man into something beyond his intending and her knowing, she had been hammered stubbornly thinner and thinner like some passive and dully malleable metal, into an attenuation of dumb hopes and frustrated desires now faint and pale as dead ashes."

And this is a minor character! Not every reader will have the stamina to wander around in Faulkner's world for long, but those that make the trip will come back with a richer, if more complicated, understanding of the people among us.
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03/12/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Kerry Drury Great writing!

Kerry Drury PS I completely agree.

message 3: by David (new) - added it

David Christian You nailed Mr. Faulkner, who i regard as the greatest of the southern novelists, including Twain.

Marius Hancu While reading Light in August, by William Faulkner, you may want to see my questions related to it as answered in the alt.usage.english (AUE) Usenet newsgroup. My thanks to the participating AUE members. The focus of my questions was the language: rare words, funny or original expressions, special or strange constructs — as I saw them, from within my own idiosyncrasies.

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