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The Portable Faulkner (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 5 Sep 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Australia Ltd; Rev. and Expanded Ed edition (5 Sept. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014243728X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142437285
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.7 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 465,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Guardian of the Scales on 29 May 2008
Format: Paperback
William Faulkner was one of the most original and authentic literary voices of the 20th century. Everything he writes seems imbued with a sense of gravitas and a deep humanity. He was undoubtedly a product of his time and place, i.e. post slavery and post civil war Deep South, but his narrative voice is timeless, the lyricism and solemn authority of his style verging on the biblical, despite the fact that he frequently employs deeply and authentically colloquial language.

This collection is as good as can be expected for a one volume overview. It was originally published in the forties and played a role in gaining Faulkner the somewhat belated public recognition that would culminate in a Nobel prize for literature.

Included in its entirety is Faulkner's masterpiece among masterpieces, "The Sound and the Fury", often considered a difficult book, but the rhythm of the language is compelling in its own right, and once the meaning of the book becomes clear, one realizes that there is nothing superfluous, and the riddles of the early sections of the book are resolved. The characters are passionate, tragic and enigmatic and the atmosphere is overwhelmingly intense.

Another major work thankfully included here is "The Bear", a novella taken from "Go Down, Moses" a collection of interlinked tales.
There are also some excerpts from Faulkner's great novels and some short stories, which often show Faulkner's pleasantly whimsical humour, as in "Shingles for the Lord".

There's plenty missing, of course, but this provides a great introduction to the genius that was William Faulkner. Then you can go onto "As I Lay Dying", "Light in August", "Go Down, Moses", "The Reivers" etc.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
A great introduction and companion, but use wisely 17 Dec. 2000
By "airi2" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Portable Faulkner is a wonderful intro to Faulkner, but it's just that--an introduction. It can't do whan the entirety of one of Faulkner's novels will do, and in some cases I recommend skipping a bit in the Portable Faulkner until the corresponding novel has already been read (for example, Dilsey's section of The Sound and the Fury shouldn't be read in the Portable if you haven't read The Sound and the Fury. Trust me, TSatF is a book where you don't want to read the last chapter before the first three).
Better than an introduction, the Portable Faulkner also serves as a very interesting companion to those already familiar with Faulkner--it does the great service to readers of putting Yoknapatawpha stories in chronological order, which is an interesting perspective we may not otherwise get to see.
However, above all, there are two reasons why I bought this book.
First, it includes the Compson Appendix. If you've read a copy of the Sound and the Fury that didn't include the Compson Appendix, you need this. It's something that has to be read after the Sound and the Fury to capture the whole of Faulkner's story.
Second, it includes Faulkner's Nobel acceptance speech, which is wonderful, especially as a complement to reading the books themselves, and which is very nice to have in book format like the Portable Faulkner.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
A terrific introduction to Faulkner 1 July 2000
By Robert P. Gray - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Portable Faulkner is THE way to be introduced to William Faulkner, arguably the best of 20th century American novelists. Cowley arranges whole work and excerpts chronological for Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County; it should be noted that Faulkner did not write his body of work chronologically. By arranging the work in this way, Cowley does us a great service in seeing Faulkner's great creation as an ordered whole.
The drawback to this work is in its goal -- to make more understandable Faulkner's creation in his mythic county. The drawback is that, by design, none of Faulkner's other work is included, such as The Fable.
The Portable Faulkner should be viewed only as an introduction, a tantalizer. Upon seeing the greatest of the work, we can then proceed to the work in its entirety.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Edges out short stories anthology 17 Feb. 2003
By Caponsacchi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
An influential collection, partly responsible for the late 1940s resurgence of interest in America's greatest author, this construction of Faulkner's narrative world is certainly no substitute for any of the novels. But it has its uses: readers who don't plan to read more than 3 of Faulkner's best novels may find some of Cowley's excerpts a reasonable consolation; Cowley's chronological ordering not only clarifies Faulkner's fictional world but exposes its organic unity; with the exception of "Barn Burning," most of the essential short fiction (including the frequently excerpted "The Bear") can be found here; the concluding commentary and genealogy which Cowley elicted from Faulkner himself is both helpful and a kind of Faulknerian literary piece in its own right.
A slight "down side" (apart from some questionable excerpting and over-emphasis on chronological at the expense of "narrative" time) is Cowley's somewhat "dated" aesthetic judgements (though at times refreshing, since the author was applying them to a "non-canonical" writer).
As for "Burn Burning," it's readily available, free of charge, on the Internet.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Basic for any Faulkner fan 13 May 2013
By Michael J. Fawcett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book contains the key short stories and novel excerpts that caused Faulkner's reputation to soar beginning in the mid-1940s. Although he had been active since the 1920s, this book was the one that made him a household word.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Portable Faulkner 25 Sept. 2013
By felix2012 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am going back and reading faulkner again after 35 years and I get so much more out of the text. This edition in very good shape and I'm proud of it.
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