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Soldier's Pay Paperback – Apr 1970


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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Liveright,N.Y.; New edition edition (April 1970)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871402076
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871402073
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.2 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,130,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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Soldier's Pay is the first novel by American Nobel-Prize winner William Faulkner. It was during the summer of 1925, when he was working in New Orleans, that Faulkner met Sherwood Anderson and was encouraged by him to write a novel. Unlike his later books this post-war story of a wounded, helpless and dying officer returning home to his father and his fickle sweetheart is set in Georgia, but some of Faulkner's feeling for the South and many of his character-types are already foreshadowed. --This text refers to an alternate 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 an alternate Paperback edition.

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LOWE, Julian, number -, late a Flying Cadet, Umptieth Squadron, Air Service, known as "One Wing" by the other embryonic aces of his flight, regarded the world with a yellow and disgruntled eye. Read the first page
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 April 1999
Format: Paperback
In his first novel, SOLDIERS' PAY, Faulkner deals with the aftermath of World War I to illustrate the disillusionment that war inexorably brings to combtants and non-combatants alike. Whether is is the war to end all wars, the war to save humanity, the forgotten war, or the immoral war, no one who survives escapes unscathed. The narrative is more straightforward, with fewer digressions, than that of most of Faulker's later novels; but it is still difficult to follow at times. Using the shattered life of a wounded and dying war veteran as the vehicle, Faulkner weaves the lives of his characers into a revealing tapestry. In the arras he depicts fear, despair and denial; sexuality, frustration, and fulfillment; pettiness and compassion; love and hate--a range of emotions to which all mankind is subject. While many of his descriptions seem strained and burdensome, others present a blinding insight into the foibles and failings of our neighbors and of ourselves. Likewise, to the modern reader, some of the moral values and motivations of his characters may be arcane; yet, as a whole, the universal standards of human behavior still apply. All in all, I would say that if you are a fan of Faulkner, give this book a try. It hasn't the power of THE SOUND AND THE FURY or ABSALOM, ABSALOM! nor the delightful comedy of THE REIVERS, but it does give the reader a glimpse into the evolution of Faulkner's inimitable style.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 14 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Overshaddowed, but still extraordinary 21 May 2002
By "kj2250" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Many people who review this book give it a bad rating because they have read Faulkner before and expect his writing to be of a certain style and intellectual caliber. Perhaps this book is not quite up to the level that people are expecting, but when you compare it with much of the other literature available dramatizing this time period (just after World War I) in a fictional manner, this book stands out as being a simply extraordinary peice of literature. While it lacks much of Faulkner's later literary intuitiveness, this book still demonstrates true Faulknerian style with its soap-opera-ish manner of storytelling and robust character development. Even this, one of Faulkner's least talked about and least admired novels, is better than the work of 99.9% of the authors writing today. What people consider "bad" as a Faulkner book is still leaps and bounds ahead of what other writers are able to produce. I found this book to be an excellent stepping-stone into Faulkner's style and literary skill from less "deep" books. I would definitely recommend reading this book first before reading other Faulkner novels. Once you finish this one, THEN try another book directly after this one - his style will be much easier to follow and understand.
Overall, a wonderful book for discussion and reflection!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Soldier's Pay the Price 30 Dec. 2009
By Carla Gabriel Beckman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of Faulkner's best stories, but perhaps the least read. If you are a Faulkner fan, you have read it. If you are not a reader of Faulkner, this is a good one with which to start. It is the story of a World War I soldier coming home with debilitating terminal injuries which have essentially ended his life as he knows it. He is treated with human kindness by some, but others are horrified and uncomfortable, and even deny his humanity. As Hemingway wrote about "The Lost Generation," Faulkner also brings the human cost of war into stark reality. It seems the most artistic among us are the most prescient.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Faulkner's SOLDIERS' PAY foreshadows his evolving style. 3 April 1999
By stturnbo@nwol.net - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In his first novel, SOLDIERS' PAY, Faulkner deals with the aftermath of World War I to illustrate the disillusionment that war inexorably brings to combtants and non-combatants alike. Whether is is the war to end all wars, the war to save humanity, the forgotten war, or the immoral war, no one who survives escapes unscathed. The narrative is more straightforward, with fewer digressions, than that of most of Faulker's later novels; but it is still difficult to follow at times. Using the shattered life of a wounded and dying war veteran as the vehicle, Faulkner weaves the lives of his characers into a revealing tapestry. In the arras he depicts fear, despair and denial; sexuality, frustration, and fulfillment; pettiness and compassion; love and hate--a range of emotions to which all mankind is subject. While many of his descriptions seem strained and burdensome, others present a blinding insight into the foibles and failings of our neighbors and of ourselves. Likewise, to the modern reader, some of the moral values and motivations of his characters may be arcane; yet, as a whole, the universal standards of human behavior still apply. All in all, I would say that if you are a fan of Faulkner, give this book a try. It hasn't the power of THE SOUND AND THE FURY or ABSALOM, ABSALOM! nor the delightful comedy of THE REIVERS, but it does give the reader a glimpse into the evolution of Faulkner's inimitable style.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Homecoming... 4 Feb. 2013
By John P. Jones III - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book was first published in 1925; it is the author's first novel. And it is my second reading of it; the first time was more than 40 years ago, under some unusual circumstances. As with numerous, but not all other second readings, I understood and appreciated it much more this time around. The received wisdom is that this is one of his lesser works, and might easily be given a miss. I would disagree. Although several of Faulkner works should be considered essential reads, "Soldier's Pay" is also essential, for several reasons. It is oh so rich in insights into the human condition. There is a wide-range of character types, many not very "sympathetic", whom I feel Faulkner developed quite well. And the plot development is quite sophisticated, for this being his first novel. Also there are the rich descriptions of the Georgia landscape, over a two month period, in the spring of 1919, at a time of fireflies, and the street lights going off at midnight, and yes, the smell of magnolia trees.

Donald Mahon is the central character, coming home from World War I. He had been an aviator in the British Air Force, and badly wounded. An ugly scar across his face repels most who see him, including, once he arrives home, his fiancée, the ever so flighty and shallow Cecily. Throughout the novel, he is the "object" of the other characters' attentions; he can say virtually nothing. An older soldier, Joe Gilligan, and a young war widow, Margaret Powers, help Mahon return home to Georgia, and his father, who is an Episcopalian minister. If one were to accuse Faulkner of being misogynist for his portrait of Cecily, the defense would offer an equally scathing portrait of Januarius Jones, a "scholar" of sorts, and one who clumsily fancies himself a lady's man. Lesser characters include Emmy, who is the housekeeper at the Mahon residents, with her own heartbreaking history, as well as aspirations, and George Farr, who has interests in, and is enticed by Cecily.

In real life, Faulkner, greatly exaggerated his non-existent participation in World War I. So, in terms of characters, I felt Cecily's young brother, Robert, who was fascinated with "war stories", and wanting to see the Mahon's scar, might come closest to resembling Faulkner himself. But somehow, Faulkner got the war, its participants, and the reaction from the "home front" almost perfectly right. For example, when you really know that the death of a given soldier was anything but heroic, there is an absolute conspiracy of silence on that issue with the family. I also thought Faulkner perfectly captured the wild attractions (and repulsions) of the soldiers, and the women they would be leaving behind, and some would return to.

Sexual innuendo, maneuvers, and the occasional fulfillment permeates the novel. There are the ugly jealousies of three women, and the collective jealousies of all American women. At the Grand Ball, one woman makes the remark, to a returning soldier: "Of course, we can't hope to compete with French women." There are those Georgian spring nights when: "Dew on the grass, dew on small unpickable roses, making them sweeter, giving them an odour... Dew on the grass, the grass assumed a faint luminousness so if it had stolen light from day and the moisture of night were releasing it, giving it back to the world again... Tree-frogs...released the liquid flute-like monotony swelling in their throats, filling the night with the imminence of summer...Fire-flies had not yet come."

Some portions of the novel do seem improbable, which seemed to only match the improbability of my first reading of it. My copy is from Australia, where I purchased it on "R&R" from Vietnam. When I returned to Vietnam, I only had a few days left, and I started reading it. And I finished it in Hawaii, on the way home from the war, since one of the crew-members had claimed he saw a rat on the plane, and it had to be delayed for fumigation for 24 hours. I always suspected the far more plausible sexual yearnings of the crew member, and an arranged "hot date." Nonetheless, the themes helped prepare me for the many misconceptions, and general indifference of the home-town folks, as it seems to be, after every war. Faulkner's first novel, and not one to be overlooked. 5-stars.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Indications of What Was to Come 21 April 2014
By Glynn Young - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
William Faulkner wrote "Soldier’s Pay," his first novel, during the first six months of 1925. He was living in New Orleans, in a ground-floor apartment on Orleans Alley in the French Quarter. The house had been built in 1840 on what had been part of the Spanish colonial prison, located at the rear of the administration building known (then and now) as the Cabildo.

Today, Orleans Alley is called Pirate’s Alley, in the very heart of the French Quarter. Faulkner’s ground-floor apartment is now occupied by Faulkner House Books. A plaque on the wall outside notes that this is the place where he wrote his first novel. The story is that Faulkner, who had considered himself a poet, wrote the novel at the urging of novelist Sherwood Anderson.

"Soldier’s Pay" is the story of Donald Mahon, an American who became a captain in the British Royal Air Force in World War I. He had supposedly been killed when his plane was shot down; but he is on his way home, severely injured, his face scarred, and not much of his mind left. He has a relatively small part in the story, but there is no question he is the character around which the entire story revolves.

Donald is engaged to Cecily Saunders, a hometown girl who is known as something of a flirt. She is shallow, somewhat vain, and in love with another man. Donald doesn’t recognize or his father, an Episcopal priest. Nor does he recognize Emmy, the family’s servant.

The wounded soldier is accompanied home by a fellow veteran, Joe Gilligan, and a woman they meet on the train, Margaret Powers. And there is Januarius Jones, whom Donald’s father meets early in the story and becomes in a way the narrative’s anti-hero, if not the villain. It says something of Faulkner’s writing ability that Joe and Margaret move in with the family, Joe to dress and care for him, and Margaret is some of a protective role, and it doesn’t seem odd.

As these characters respond and react to each other and what is clearly Donald’s declining health, secrets begin to play themselves out. Even Donald had at least one secret of which he and the other characters are unaware, and that is how he got his terrible injuries. But the secrets are of lesser importance; what is happening here is a theme that Faulkner will return to again and again in later novels, and that is the impact of modernization on family, relationships, love, and the social structure.

In "Soldier’s Pay," modernization takes on the guise of war and its aftermath. It is not so much deadly as deadening, eroding what have long been the foundations of social and family life. Donald’s father seems to move through the story in something of a trance, his faith not rejected but forgotten and almost irrelevant. Joe Gilligan and Emmy are the characters who represent faith at work, as Joe ministers to Donald’s basic needs and Emmy feeds him. Margaret Powers is the hard, perhaps hardened, realist in the story, her own husband killed in the war and Donald offering a kind of atonement.

What Faulkner will later produce in a series of remarkable novels is foreshadowed here – the tantalizing secrets that shape so much of what the reader can see but not all at once, the complexities of the story, and even some of the circularity of the narrative. Soldier’s Pay may not be quite in the same league as "The Sound and the Fury" and "As I Lay Dying," but in many ways it is the father to those children, and the resemblance is there to see.
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