Oh dear. I’m not going to say that I hate this masterpiece of a classic. It’s more like a stockholm syndrome thing where, by the time you get to the end of it you’ve pieced the bits together, but you’re kinda too exhausted to care.
The title is from Macbeth, because of course it is.
“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,
Faulkner really, really wants this to be a work of genius. And it could be. The prose is at times transcendent and the way he gets into his character’s minds is
But the characters are more like
In the first part of the book we follow Benjy, someone we might today label nonverbal autistic. This part is smashing. Benjy has no concept of time and flashes forwards and backwards between people, places, and times. You get a real sense of tragedy and loss here, even if Benjy can’t describe it as anything other than waiting for his sister Caddy to come home.
Second part of the book belongs to his neurotic brother who walks around feeling sad and guilty about something. And also really mad at Caddy for being married and pregnant. He’s a dickhead and I don’t feel sorry for him.
The third part follows the third brother, Jason, who is supposed to be a villain, but his villainy is so bound to his sense of entitlement that he just becomes an uninteresting caricature. He’s really mad at Caddy for getting pregnant and then divorced and then leaving her daughter, Quentin, in the family’s care.
The last part is mainly told from the point of view of their servant Dilsey who actually tries to hold the family together even as the men are all like *me me me*. This part is also good because Quentin makes her escape here and Jason is left all like #langenase
This is white-guy literature at its finest.
The kind of books that are work to get through and decipher so that, when you do, you can regard yourself as better than everyone else. It’s also white-guy literature in the way that the voices of the women in the family are completely erased, focusing instead on how the men feel about the women’s actions.
There’s also a shitton of rascism in this book. The systematic, pervasive dehumanization of black people in the South is especially glaring in today’s political climate. In one instance a character refers to black people as animals.
It is an interesting book to have read. The shifts in time and character, current events and memories give an interesting dream-like quality to the writing. You can practically smell the South. Yet in the end, it feels as though Faulkner is too deliberate in these techniques and tries too hard to confuse the reader and employ new tricks to obscure the plot.