Once I got to part 4 in The Sound and The Fury, I started to enjoy it. Of course, by then it was essentially too late. I’d already closed my mind to this book by the end of Part 1!
Starting the book with random thoughts along a random time/space continuum by a character with limited mental capacity may have been Faulkner’s new ground-breaking literary playground to explore, but it was frustrating as a reader.
This was a very compelling story with interesting and diverse characters, so I’m not sure why Faulkner didn’t just write it with a straight timeline.
What if Harry Potter had started this way? What if, instead of starting at Harry’s 11th birthday and continuing from there, with occasional, clearly specified visits down memory lane, it started instead with general musings from Luna Lovelace, introducing snippets of plot points from the past, present and future in no particular order? It would have lost a lot, the first being a strong opener that draws the reader in the scene and characters.
Faulkner did take the title from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which include the lines, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player/ That struts and frets his hour upon the stage/ And then is heard no more: it is a tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/ Signifying nothing.” I’m sure that was why he took on the challenge of starting with Bengy’s point of view.
Honestly, I wouldn’t mind reading this book again with a more open mind now that I know the plot and the characters in order to really get a feel for, and hopefully appreciate, the style of writing. If I was in college and had unlimited free time, I would do that. Alas, now I will not. I’ll just wait until we read #35, “As I Lay Dying” to try Faulkner again.
Final Note – There is an appendix at the back of the book that is “key to the whole book”, using Faulkner’s words. I didn’t know that until I arrived at the end of the book the hard way, but I would encourage anyone else reading the book to start there. 🙂
PS – I’m going to try to post consistently every Friday as we work our way through the top 100. Next up – Catch-22!