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Intruder in the Dust [Hardcover]

William Faulkner
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jun 1972
A classic Faulkner novel which explores the lives of a family of characters in the South. An aging black who has long refused to adopt the black's traditionally servile attitude is wrongfully accused of murdering a white man.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 247 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Inc (T); Prima edizione (First Edition) edition (Jun 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394430743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394430744
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 10.4 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,453,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"He has written a novel which in form is a thriller - and a very good thriller too - but this is without detracting from its profundity" New Statesman "A very good novel indeed" -- John Betjeman "Faulkner has inexhaustible invention, powerful imagination, and he writes, generally, like an angel" -- Arnold Bennett --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Born in 1897 in New Albany, Mississippi, William Faulkner was the son of a family proud of their prominent role in the history of the south. He grew up in Oxford, Mississippi, and left high school at fifteen to work in his grandfather's bank. Rejected by the US military in 1915, he joined the Canadian flyers with the RAF, but was still in training when the war ended. Returning home, he studied at the University of Mississippi and visited Europe briefly in 1925. His first poem was published in The New Republic in 1919. His first book of verse and early novels followed, but his major work began with the publication of The Sound and the Fury in 1929. As I Lay Dying (1930), Sanctuary (1931), Light in August (1932), Absalom, Absalom! (1936) and The Wild Palms (1939) are the key works of his great creative period leading up to Intruder in the Dust (1948). During the 1930s, he worked in Hollywood on film scripts, notably The Blue Lamp, co-written with Raymond Chandler. William Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 and the Pulitzer Prize for The Reivers just before his death in July 1962. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER
... the "owner" of which was a man who said "mister" to whites, but did not really mean it. The meal was served to 12 year old Charles Mallison, after he had fallen in an icy pond, and the server, who didn't mean mister, was Lucas Beauchamp. Four years later the "bill" for those collard greens would come due, and it would be Mallison's actions that would save Beauchamp's life. "Intruder in the Dust" is one of Faulkner's later works, written just after World War II. The perennial themes of his works are exhibited: his examination of life in barely fictional Yoknapatawpha County, whose county seat is Jefferson, (Oxford, MS) and the continued fall-out from America's "original sin," slavery. From Faulkner's majestically southern mansion of Rowan Oaks, he wrote in fear of the "white trash" that surrounded him, so often identified as the Snopes family, but in this novel they are transformed into the Gowries, from "Beat Four." Faulkner's stream-of-consciousness style always challenges the reader to stay engaged, or a vital clue to the story will be missed. And like those slower internet connections, he "backs and fills" his pixels, slowly revealing the entire story. This is also an excellent "mystery" novel; the particular situations involving the grave seem "impossible," but Faulkner makes it all so understandable, masterfully so, in the fullness of time. Faulkner is certainly not for the "fun read" crowd, nor, apparently, based on the reviews posted here, for sophomores in "Advanced Placement" English. I shutter at the thought of how many students have become confirmed non-readers of serious books for the rest of their lives as a result of such classes.

I am an immense fan of Faulkner, and still hope to read or re-read all his works.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to get on with 23 Nov 2011
William Faulkner seems to be one of those writers that you can either get on with or you can't. Unfortunately in my case I fall into the category of 'can't'. This is the second Faulkner book I have begun and abandoned halfway through, the other being The Sound and the Fury.

Intruder in the Dust was an excellent idea for a book; a black man living in the Southern US is wrongfully accused of murdering a local white man. A white boy, who owes the accused his life, sets out to prove his innocence. Sounds pretty exciting doesn't it? It isn't.

Another reviewer described this book as a 'thriller' I couldn't disagree more, thrillers are supposed to be exciting aren't they? I managed to reach page 140 before giving up and nothing much happened in those pages, at least that I could understand.

Faulkner has a unique style of writing which is truly his own. I thought Hemingway was challenging to read until I picked up this book. To begin with Faulkner had something against punctuation, this much is painfully obvious. Apparently he had a particularly seething hated for commas as is evident when you can read entire paragraphs and not see a single one. It must be a nightmare to read out loud. The book was difficult to read for other reasons too; the storyline is clouded, characters are not fleshed out, dialogue between characters is confusing and often pretty meaningless. The story itself plods along at a pace that I can only describe as agonisingly slow.

It is not all bad though, it is as plain as day that the South has a history worthy of shame for the way they treated black people and the ugliness of segregation and hatred is evident on practically every page which makes it an ugly, heavy book to read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as effective as it could have been 10 Oct 2008
By J C E Hitchcock TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This novel is, in form, a thriller with a classic thriller plot- the fight to prove the innocence of a man accused of a crime he did not commit. (Alfred Hitchcock used this plot in a number of his films, and "Intruder in the Dust" was itself made into a very good film by Clarence Brown in 1949, only a year after its publication). Faulkner takes this basic plot and uses it to explore the problem of racism in America's Deep South; Harper Lee was later to take a similar plot, and use it for a similar purpose, in "To Kill a Mockingbird".

The book is set in Faulkner's fictional Yoknapatawpha County and its capital, Jefferson, based upon the real Lafayette County and Faulkner's own home town of Oxford. The innocent man wrongly accused is Lucas Beauchamp, an elderly, widowed black farmer. Although Beauchamp is honest and respectable, he is resented by many whites because he refuses to "behave like a nigger", that is to say behave in a servile manner. When a white man named Vinson Gowrie is shot dead, Beauchamp is accused of the crime. Gowrie was from Beat Four, a wild, hilly district of the county, whose white inhabitants are noted for their lawless ways and their ingrained prejudices against blacks. A mob, mostly members of Gowrie's extended family, gathers in Jefferson, threatening to break into the jail and lynch Beauchamp.

The story is told through the eyes of Charles Mallison, the sixteen-year-old nephew of Gavin Stevens, the relatively liberal white lawyer who acts for Beauchamp. Charles, who regards himself as being in Beauchamp's debt ever since, four years earlier, the old man rescued him after he fell in a stream, sets out to prove that Beauchamp did not fire the fatal shot.
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