I got acquainted with Faulkner when I borrowed this anthology of short stories in our college library. A Rose for Emily, yes, that’s it. It’s quite long for the average short story, but I like it so much that I made a mental note to buy a Faulkner novel.
So this is my first Faulkner novel. And this is an altogether different experience from the Faulkner short story. If the latter is a gripping and captivating reading, the former is quite an exhausting mental exercise.
Here goes anything.
This is one of the toughest books that I’ve ever read. I remember I had to reread the first chapter twice, but I still didn’t quite get it. Reading a story that’s going on inside the head of a retarded son is hard because first, the scenes are jumpy, and second, they hardly make any sense.
The first few pages could send readers throwing the book away and giving up on it, but as the introduction in my edition says, finishing the book would feel like fog evaporating and letting the reader see everything as they are. It is this patchy story-telling of the Compson family that makes this a monumental work. Add the then newfangled stream of consciousness technique and you have a classic, yes?
I’ve already mentioned the retard, and to complete the list, there’s also the alcoholic dad, the neurotic mom, the suicidal son, the avaricious other son, and the slutty daughter. And who’s holding this family together?
Dilsey, the black servant. Ironic, isn’t it?
So what does it want to say? What are its themes? Hmm. Family disintegration. The loss of ideals. The battle to preserve these ideals. The question of morality. Pragmatism, perhaps? And a bit of existentialism.
All these are packed in this book, but in number of pages, it is not very long. After reading this though, one would realize that it is not the page numbers that determine the length of a novel. It is the time spent on reading it, and yes, I spent more time than necessary on this one.
I actually want to reread this, but I don’t think the right time for that is coming soon.
I’ve always been interested in the title of this novel. And the truth is, I don’t really get it. I’ve researched it. I know it is something that is taken from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which I haven’t read or any Shakespearean work for that matter, but I still don’t get it.
It is full of sound and fury signifying nothing. But is this novel really that insignificant? I doubt the author would go through all that writing if he did not intend to say something given that he is a Nobel laureate. Well, the Nobel might have come after the publishing of this book, but what the hey, I really can’t say if I got this one.
Seriously, as if I am not serious enough, it must be the notion that this idiot’s tale is not something to take seriously. Hence, his sound and fury? Sound can be noise, which is meaningless, but sound can be music. Now there’s a point. And what about fury? Is it less than angst or anger or anything of that sort? Aren’t they under one section of the emotions department? Maybe violent emotions?
But that last question is arbitrary. Fury can be muted. Oh well. But yes, I like the novel anyway. It’s weird, thinking about. How could I like anything that I don’t fully understand? Maybe that’s the reason I like it, and I’d like it even more if I understand it fully, don’t you think?