Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reading Faulkner

My reading pace has slowed waaaay down. I've got a certain Mr. Faulkner to thank. He is so damn difficult to read! BUT Absalom, Absalom! is sucking me deeper and deeper in.

It's really hard not to feel like a complete idiot reading it, especially at the beginning when I felt like I was losing my mind. I kept forgetting who was who. And I kept going back, reading and re-reading... just so I could sort of keep up. But I am one stubborn woman (ask my husband) and I am not going to, you know, give up. So, I keep pushing through and, about two thirds into the book, I must say it is totally worth the effort.

I found a great Faulkner Primer on what-do-you-know, Oprah's Book Club page, which describes Faulkner's style as symphonic:
Or, better, think of Faulkner's novels as symphonic in structure. And just as a symphony moves from section to section, presenting varying moods and impressions, altering speeds and rhythms, at times introducing leitmotifs [melodic phrases that are associated with an idea, person or situation] and themes that will be developed more fully later on, at other times looping backward to recapitulate earlier themes, but always advancing toward a final resolution, so too does the Faulkner novel employ shifting tones and impressions, hints and foreshadowings, repetitions and recapitulations, time shifts looping backward and forward, all consciously intended to shape the story not so much on the pages of the book but in the reader's mind and imagination.

I couldn't agree more. You read and some of it makes sense and much of it doesn't, but you just keep reading and try not to think about what happens next and there it all unfolds in front of you and it is fascinating.


  1. You can move on to "The Sound and the Fury" next and let's talk about losing one's mind ;)

  2. Oh man. I think I just might need to do it. I really love how difficult it is. And I think that, given how hard Faulkner must have worked on the book, the least I can do for him is work hard while I read it.

    My American Mom tells me that someone once told her it is best to read Faulkner in chronological order because his style developed organicly over time and that way you have an easier time aclimating to his voice... Food for thought.

  3. If you do plan on reading The Sound and the Fury, I'd like to suggest reading each section in one sitting or as close too it as possible. Then put it down, reflect, and come back later to do the next section. The first section is the most difficult.


  4. I think that book is Faulkner's best. I loved it.