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80 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A challenging book that's worth the effort
Not for the beach, this one. But certainly worth ploughing through if you want to stretch your brain and think about life and death and consciousness. Most people will dismiss this book in the first few pages - it is notoriously difficult to get to grips with, and actually requires two readings before it starts to make any sense. But, as a reflection on the...
Published on 31 Aug 1999

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3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult Reading
I bought this book because I like American novels but hadn't read Faulkner before. I found it a difficult read and I don't know whether I like it or not at the moment. It's not because I have to have a conventional narrative (I like William Burroughs for example). It's more that I don't seem to become emotionally involved in the characters, and don't really care what...
Published 9 months ago by CB


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80 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A challenging book that's worth the effort, 31 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sound And The Fury (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Not for the beach, this one. But certainly worth ploughing through if you want to stretch your brain and think about life and death and consciousness. Most people will dismiss this book in the first few pages - it is notoriously difficult to get to grips with, and actually requires two readings before it starts to make any sense. But, as a reflection on the incomprehensible nature of life, that's not bad. Most of us make little or no sense of our three score years and ten; in relative terms The Sound & the Fury is a breeze! This is a tragic story, and all the more so for the choked narrative voice of the dead. The repression in these pages is countered by the rebellious and almost unpunctuated text, and the contrast is stunning. It soon dawns on you - as a reader who is impatient at the challenge to traditional literature - that we're all victims of a man-made environment, and by social mores that cripple and destroy our souls. Faulkner's novel is not, by any stretch, the most enjoyable or entertaining that you will ever read. But it is certainly one of the most brave, and I would recommend it highly if you want to confront your own demons.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure genius, 10 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This book revolutionized the way I looked at writing. The idea of writing some of the chapters from the point of view of a person who cannot even speak and who is about on the brain level of a baby is absolutely brilliant to me, as is the fact that Caddy's voice is never clearly known; instead, only her brothers, Benjy, Quentin, and Jason lead the narrations, opening up the forum for so many possibilities of who Caddy really is and what the nature of her sexuality is as it moves from her to her daughter Quentin. The idea of Benjy, running up and down the fence screaming for Caddy, will be with me for the rest of my life and will creep in every time I try to write a page of my own. The title is one of the most perfect I've ever encountered, taken, of course, from Shakespeare: "Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Avoid Preconceptions, 1 Dec 2002
By 
Bruce Kendall "BEK" (Southern Pines, NC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sound And The Fury (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Faulkner is often regarded as a "difficult" novelist, and this book is indeed a densely dilineated, complex tome. It is also, however, incredibly straighforward. It is one of those texts that you just have to go with. Too many readers approach this book with trepidation, because they have been told they are not going to understand it. Turn loose of your preconceptions about fiction and about narrative, and you will be amply rewarded.
Faulkner, along with Joyce, was a master of stream-of-consciousness narrative, and this is his masterpiece in that regard. To appreciate such a technique, you must as the Beatles exhorted, "turn off your mind, relax and go downstream." Go with the flow, no matter you noxious that sounds these days. If you let yourself think for a while as Benjie does, the whole patchwork makes perfect sense.
This is a family novel, more than anything else, but it is obviously not about the Waltons. Faulkner made a career out of delineating the disfunction of not only Southern families, but of the South itself in the era following its ignominious Civil War defeat and surrender . The whole social structure broke down from within, and though no apologist, Faulkner was enough of a realist to depict the society in all its infirm decline.
Southern revisionists can come along and deny its accuracy, but for a true picture of ther region in the first half of the 20th century, Faulkner is more accurate than any social historian.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The structure of loss, 9 April 2005
This review is from: The Sound And The Fury (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
"The sound and the Fury" is difficult. It can be confusing. Many essays are devoted to whether the difficulty is justified, but it is important to remember that it was not Faulkner's intention for this book to be difficult.
When interviewed about this book he explained the book's structure in terms of his attempt to try to capture Caddy's story without removing the intensity and bile from its telling by reducing her to explaining herself. This is why there are four narrative voices, each time Faulkner tried a different voice to tell his tale, and each time in his own words "failed". This is not a reflection of the skills of Faulkner as an author - the book is exceptionally well written, but rather probably has its roots in the reductive nature of language, which Faulkner found failed to capture the image he wished to pen. An appendix was added to the book in later editions and Faulkner suggested that this should be read first, as it explains the plot, the four narratives then serve to elucidate and add colour to the bare facts provided in this short "obituary" as Faulkner termed it.
Returning to the book. This is, i feel, Faulkner's most ambitious novel, and if he claimed to have failed in his telling of it, it does not show, this book is emotionally draining and moving in not only the story that is unveils, but also in the manner of its unveiling. There must be few who can fail to be moved by the pithy second narration, with its disjointed syntax which tells of its own despair, or not feel pity in the simplicity of the first.
thematically, this book is huge, covering sin, death, love, greed, envy, power.... life!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comments on the emotional impact of the narrative, 8 May 1998
By A Customer
What can be said, in terms of literary praise, about this novel that has not been said? Nothing. I can only comment on the emotional impact the book had on me. Some of the most disturbing and tragic moments in literature are found within the pages, and unlike many novels of acclaim, the last three pages are so dynamic that I found myself repeating the phrase, "Thank You." over and over to myself. Never, before or since, have I ever turned the last leaf of a book with such satisfaction.
To touch on the difficulty of the reading, I should say that, like an enormous jigsaw puzzle, to examine and scrutinize each little piece is futile. Simply read it through. When you've finished reading it, the whole story is crystal clear. Every brilliant sentence is crystal. In no way a cryptic or confusing thing, The Sound and the Fury is a landmark in complex simplicity.
Don't let anyone tell you Patrick McCabe is an innovative writer. It's all been done, and done far, far better.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, while not as hard a read as I expected, 13 May 2007
By 
This review is from: The Sound And The Fury (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
I wish I had studied this one at high school, its themes are so diverse and details so richly laid down. It isn't a tough book to follow if taken in over a short space of time; don't be put off by reviews that focus on complexity, Faulkner's words are never difficult to follow and the story is wonderfully human. The first chapter seems obscure on first reading and warrants a quick re-read once you're finished with the last, it is only 60 pages in length which means you're not given time to tire of the world the first narrator inhabits. By the third chapter, more becomes apparent and the story starts to make sense- I would look up a list of characters at some point, sparknotes.com or similar, to make things easier!

This edition is nicely printed, with a suitably concise introduction. Well recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply amazing, 17 Mar 1999
By A Customer
Everything in this book, the writing, the characterizations, the plot, the setting, everything, is simply astounding. It draws you in and holds your interest like very few books. Definitely a classic, and certainly for anyone who wants to read a well written book with meaningful content. This book is a masterpiece of literature. It not only towers over all the piddling "pop" literature that spews from the presses nowadays, but it is a titan over genuine quality literature.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Golf Ball as a Symbol of Circles Within Circles, 29 Aug 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Sound And The Fury (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Before commenting on the content and value of the book, let me warn that this is one of the most difficult to understand and appreciate of all American novels. Several factors combine to create that difficulty. First, one of the narrators is a person with mental deficiencies. Second, the first section uses an unusual flashback technique that cannot be understood very clearly until you have read the whole book (perhaps more than once). Third, Faulkner is sparing in his clues of how the stories weave together. You have to watch carefully for them. Fourth, the sensibilities of the day meant that much is implied rather than stated overtly. But you have to understand what those hints are about, or you miss the story. Finally, there is much dense Southern black dialect here that requires slow reading to capture the sense of. Fifth, the interior dialogues are interspaced with external dialogues . . . which can create confusion. Sixth, there is a lot of crude stream of consciousness material here, but it will not enchant you as Joyce's or Proust's will. Seventh, the book is heavy with unusual symbolism that is easy to miss. Eighth, the center of the story is often drawn in by looking at the edges rather than looking directly at the center.
So if you like a challenge (like extremely complex puzzles), you will love The Sound and The Fury. If you like your fiction more straightforward, you are going to wonder where you are at times. If you like new experiences in your reading, you will find the book very rewarding.
You will meet three generations of Compsons in this novel, along with their servants, friends, and coworkers. Each Compson is experiencing perceptual disconnections that make them ineffectively connected to reality. But each is different in their dysfunction. You will move inside the minds of three of them to experience those perceptions for yourself. It will not be pleasant. All of this occurs against the backdrop of a precipitous drop in economic and social status in a small community where status is very important.
If you are like me, you will find the beauty of this story in its structure, symbolism, and the character of Dilsey, the family's servant.
The structure allows the reader to discern the book's reality from a subjective perspective, like good art does. There's lots of raw material for judgment here, and your opinions will slowly build. There are obvious connections among the characters and the story, but these connections leave you with basic questions about what causes what. Those questions of causation are one of the strengths of the novel. Because you can start with any circumstance and move off to look for connections, and you will rejoin yourself at the same circumstance eventually. Even in our disconnectedness, we are powerfully connected is the message. I think of this book as a five dimensional puzzle: with time, space, self-interest, subjective perception, and family being the five dimensions. Pulling it all into a coherent image is a worthy task that should delight your mind.
I normally would not dwell on one symbol in a book as complex as this one, but I was very impressed by how well Faulkner boiled down his message into one tiny golf ball. I also mention this symbol here because it will also save you rereading the book at least once if you pay attention to that symbol the first time you read it, and realize that it is important. The roundness of the golf ball also gives you a hint of the book's structure at a time when that structure is totally opaque. You will be returning to variations on this symbol through several circles in the rest of the novel. I will not say any more about this ball's symbolism, because that could ruin the story for you.
Finally, Dilsey is as fine a human being as you can hope to meet in person or in any novel. She reminds me of a good family friend of ours, Cecile Antaya. Her heart is full of practical Christian charity and patience. Her support is critical to the family and to the story. A good question to ask yourself at the end is whether or not this book is really focused on Dilsey rather than on the Compsons.
The title also deserves mention. This book is far more aural than almost any other novel. Sounds reverbrate at key moments to provide critical meaning. The book often speaks without sounds, but there is much fury when the words are internal. Some of the sounds, especially Benjy's sounds, help cause the fury. You will enjoy the interplay of the story with the title.
Difficult books make us better readers. I hope you will find these challenges rewarding! After you have finished making The Sound and The Fury part of yourself, I suggest that you conduct a little experiment. Take a mealtime conversation that you participated in. Write down what you remember and what you thought was going on. Then ask each of the other people to do so as well without any checking with one another. When everyone is done, compare the results and discuss those results. I think what you will find is that you have created a minor version of the communication issues in this novel. I think you will understand much more about what Faulkner was saying about perception as a result.
Build understanding by being more forgiving!
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply wonderfull!, 3 Aug 2007
By 
Crayon (Fischerhude, Germany) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sound And The Fury (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
I was somewhat curious to see what the other reviewers made of this book, and I am somewhat surprised (not of the praise, that's of course expected) with comments that it isn't "enjoyable", and has to be read a number of times. Now please! I'm hardly some intellectual old English teacher unable to believe the "simple people" can't keep up, I really just scrapped through school but this book makes perfect sense, and I had no problems reading it at all. Seems a perfect beach book to me! To be honest I find someone like George Elliot more difficult!
The first part is written by a mentally handicapped man, but I found it both touching and real. The rest of the book rolls into your heart like a steam train, with an explosive climax you're never forget.
It is simply the best book ever written. Simple if you take it as it comes, don't re-read every sentence searching for the hidden meaning. Read it like a child and let the wonderful writing and story capture your imagination!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Consanguinity... and some other defective behavior..., 22 April 2011
By 
John P. Jones III (Albuquerque, NM, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sound And The Fury (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
...but what is real, and what is imagined? It certainly depends on one's perspective, and there is a spectrum of those reflected in the dissolution of the Compson family. As another reviewer said: It isn't much fun to read, but it is an amazing re-read. Fortunately I still had my Vintage, $1.95 copy which I first read 40 some years ago, and yes, it was such an amazing re-read, with one's own perspective altered after lo' those many years. It really does flow so much easier the second time around.

The title is all too appropriately derived from William Shakespeare's Macbeth (Modern Library Classics): "...Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." The first of the four parts is literally told by an idiot, Benjy, and it remains a powerful work of the imagination for Faulkner to have attempted his perspective on events, in a time-shifting, over three decades, stream-of-consciousness mode. The following two sections are told by his brothers, Quentin, who ventured north to Harvard, and Jason, who had to stay at home, cynical and realistic. Both idiots too? And it was Dilsey, the black servant who told the last part. Faulkner is a master of the straight prose, and there is much of that in the story-telling of Jason. But Faulkner seems closest to plumbing the depths of the human condition in his incisive, rambling stream-of-consciousness style, particular as told by Quentin.

And the themes. Lawdy, as Faulkner might write. He was composing sordid "reality TV" long before TV. Incest is better than out-of-wedlock pregnancy? Or, as the author wrote: "...i think you are too serous to give me any cause for alarm you wouldnt have felt driven to the expedient of telling me you have committed incest otherwise and i i wasn't lying I wasnt lying and he you wanted to sublimate a piece of natural human folly into a horror and then exorcise it with truth..." There is also pedophilia, but actually only in the mind of an Italian immigrant. So, such misunderstandings and fears are not just of recent vintage. Misogyny? Who knows? When the men are portrayed as badly as they are, should it be any surprise that all the women, save perhaps for Dilsey, come off poorly too? Racism? Heaping dollops, but none of the kind that James Baldwin properly criticized him for. Still, there is: "that was when I realized that a nig*** is not a person so much as a form of behaviour, a sort of obverse reflection of the white people he lives among. It seemed that Faulkner was accurately portraying the situation in the "deepest" part of the South during the `20's. Anti-Semitism? "'I have nothing against jews as an individual,' I says. It's just the race. You'll admit that they produce nothing'" (p 237). Just agrarian anti-Eastern Establishment talk one might generously conclude; but why are the white-shoed WASP's of Wall Street omitted?

Academics may quibble; indeed no doubt quite a few have earned their PhD's "deconstructing" the above themes and more. But for us "general readers" Faulkner remains preeminent in his excruciatingly realistic portraits of the ramifications of America's "original sin," coupled with the reverberations on the losing side of America's most deadly conflict. The stream-of-consciousness style is an essential and revealing method for capturing the jumble of conflicting thoughts and emotions that are in most of us; far more so than a much easier to read straightforward narrative. At least in my edition, it would have been most helpful to have explained that the Appendix, which speaks of Caddy being with a Nazi officer was written in 1946, and appended to the main narrative that was written in 1929. And Lawdy, (again), did Faulkner, much to the regret of his fellow citizens, ever put that "postage stamp sized piece of real estate," the mythical Yoknapatawpha county, with its county seat, Jefferson, modeled on Oxford, Mississippi, on the literary map. The square in the center of town is still there, now with a bookstore that naturally hawks his books since those he wrote about have moved on, or, rather, down.

Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and famously said in his acceptance speech: "The Past is not Dead, it is not even the Past." "The Sound and the Fury" remain a quintessential work of American literature. A 6-star one.

(Note: Review first published at Amazon, USA, on November 03, 2010)
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The Sound And The Fury (Vintage Classics)
The Sound And The Fury (Vintage Classics) by William Faulkner (Paperback - 19 Jan 1995)
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