As I Lay Dying Is Faulkner S Harrowing Account Of The Bundren Family S Odyssey Across The Mississippi Countryside To Bury Addie, Their Wife And Mother Narrated In Turn By Each Of The Family Members Including Addie Herself As Well As Others, The Novel Ranges In Mood, From Dark Comedy To The Deepest Pathos Considered One Of The Most Influential Novels In American Fiction In Structure, Style, And Drama, As I Lay Dying Is A True Th Century Classic This Edition Reproduces The Corrected Text Of As I Lay Dying As Established InBy Noel Polk Without straying from his inimitable voice, Faulkner delivers aprofessional, calculated effort here than with his novel of the year prior, The Sound and the Fury There arenovel y aspects to As I Lay Dying, and Faulkner emerges as the master of the slow or late reveal, which might be described as reverse foreshadowing As an example, Faulkner will provide a character scene that s fraught with emotion and history and meaning, but he won t explain the context There s dramatic electricity, and we fully expect to understand the situation even while failing to receive any adumbrations And that s because Faulkner isn t actually hinting at events to come he s showing us something we can t understand without promises of future textual elucidation We just have to trust that he ll come through, which of course he always does via hints that come after the event It s sort of uncomfortable, and it made me reread certain passages obsessively, assuming that something must have slipped by But this way we get to feel the drama first with disorientation rather than with understanding I ve read a few confusing novels, and no writer seems to use this method of disorientation so deliberately and so effectively as a ploy Faulkner puts us at his mercy He s the one calling the shots, and we have to play by his rules More than anything else, I think it s this aspect that can make people uneasy or unhappy with his works But really it s a gift, leaving us with the rawness and incomprehensibility of life, which only begin to make sense in hindsight through functions of memory and our desire to find order and purpose This, along with stream of consciousness, is what gives Faulkner as much of a claim to the title of Modernist as any of his contemporaries he provides us with a hyper reality via a unique, non straightforward narrative structure So this is a great book, and its star rating is possibly suffering because it s coming on the heels of a definitively 5 star read The characterization is, for the most part, fantastic The story is told from various points of view, usually in two or three page chapters I d say about ten characters help to tell the story, but our primary narrator is Darl some spoilers to follow Darl is the second eldest son of the story s plot mover, Addie Bundren, and his character arc is probably the one thing keeping this novel out of masterpiece territory for me He s described as someone intuitive and special, a bit of an oddball but a nice, thoughtful kid His own narration backs this up he s the wise one, the amateur philosopher, and his narration is filled with difficult words and surprisingly correct grammar But something happens with him toward the end of the book that didn t quite work for me Faulkner s main philosophical exploration in this novel is relativity with regard to both morals and sanity, and Darl does something that confirms the others suspicions that he s a little bit crazy But given the absurdity of the situation the characters are in, Darl s action actually makes some good sense From a certain point of view, it s perfectly understandable So far, so good Camus would have been really jealous of this set up Only one character, Darl s older brother Cash, recognizes that Darl may not actually be crazy Sometimes I aint so sho who s got ere a right to say when a man is crazy and when he aint It s like it aint so much what a fellow does, but it s the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it.Exactly But then, inexplicably, Faulkner decides that Darl is, in fact, insane in the course of Darl s final narration, he exhibits previously unseen schizophrenic behavior, complete with nonsensical ramblings addressing himself in the third person What Faulkner should have left him the way he was, as the guy who has almost too much sense and insight and therefore gets funny looks from all the normal people But this criticism arises from the contents of a two page chapter, and fortunately it can be excised with a little mental effort There s also the possibility that some crucial hints in the book escaped me Because of Faulkner s storytelling style, in which many things only make sense later, it s likely that I missed the significance of many comments, thoughts, and glances along the way As I mentioned in a review for The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner is ripe for rereads because it s inevitable that seeming irrelevancies and ambiguous character interactions from the first read will take on new meanings when you re equipped with knowledge of the whole story Unfortunately, I ve never been one of those readers who can go right back to the beginning of a book after finishing it One of the fascinating things about this novel is that it can be read either as a tragedy or as a black comedy or, therefore, as a tragicomedy The case for the former is rather straightforward considering the events of the book, particularly with regard to Darl The bleak comedic aspect comes from the story s McGuffin to fulfill the above mentioned Addie Bundren s last wish of being buried in her family s hometown which becomes increasingly absurd as it proves logistically improbable to carry out All manner of misfortunes are incurred as a result of her spineless husband s uncharacteristic firmness in fulfilling this wish, a resolve that s made evenunbefuckinglievably absurd by the book s final five words It s all too tragic for laughs, but it s pure genius. I know you re supposed to love this book because it s Faulker, but I HATED IT I know you re cool and intelligent if you read Faulkner, but I can t stand him Sorry, I don t know what he s talking about and at the risk of sounding immodest, I am bright I DON T think it s cool and hip to write in a confusing manner, and I don t try to impress others by liking ambiguity I had my fill in college with snobs who pretended to like this stuff Sorry I sound harsh here I m really a nice person , but YUK I ve been working up to a William Faulkner book for years His books always appear on lists of best books of all time and books you should read before you die But when I ve felt in the mood for a classic or something literary , I ve always passed him up for other authors, even those with 1000 page monsters I think, deep down, I always sensed Faulkner just wasn t for me.The first problem is my lack of enthusiasm for stream of consciousness narratives If I m being honest, I rarely like it I don t mind working at a book if it s hard going, but this style of narration makes it difficult for me, personally, to ever settle into the rhythm of the book And Faulkner takes it to a whole new level He drops us into scenes and scenarios without any explanation I genuinely felt like Faulkner wanted to deliberately confuse his readers about characters and ideas he could have easily portrayed in aaccessible way Confusion for confusion s sake.Honestly, I can think of littleboring than suffering through every thought, feeling and instinct that passes through the human mind I have my own mind that plagues me with this randomness I don t need to read it in someone else s perspective I want an author to organize language into a structure that is interesting, compelling, thought provoking and stream of consciousness, for me, is rarely any of those things.But that s just my tastes for the style Trying to take a step away from that a second and view what the novel did as a whole, I can t say I enjoyed the story Nor do I tend to enjoy books withthan two or three perspectives and this one had fifteen In less than three hundred pages The plot follows the Bundren family after the death of their matriarch, Addie Fifteen perspectives tell the story of the family s journey to Jefferson, where Addie is to be buried Hauling a wagon with Addie s decomposing body, the Bundren family sets out on a nine day journey of frequent hunger and discomfort Faulkner includes important themes in his work, such as religion, poverty and identity in the Southern United States, but I still feel like other authors have done this in apalatable way I would much rather read Steinbeck any day.One reviewer said this of Faulkner s style and I couldn t agreeIt is easy to be confusing It is easy to write something beautiful and understandable for yourself It s hard to write universal words which we can all connect. So, so true.Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube Where to start with a masterpiece that is both short like the distance between two thoughts and deep as the thoughts themselves This is one of Faulkner s true masterpieces a grotesque road trip with a rotting corpse told in the voices of the extremely dysfunctional and occasionally insane family members It is Ulysses in the Southern United States, or a Georgian Grapes of Wrath Faulkner having been inspired by the former and certainly influenced the latter The writing is some of the most powerful that Faulkner ever produced I would think how words go straight up in a thin line, quick and harmless, and how terribly doing goes along the earth, clinging to it, so that after a while the two lines are too far apart for the same person to straddle from one to the other and that sin and love and fear are just sounds that people who never sinned nor loved nor feared have for what they never had and cannot have until they forget the words.The words leap off the page and both drawn you into their language s inner beauty and repulse you for the violence he depicts It is as visceral as a slaughterhouse complete with awls piercing caskets and yetoptimistic than this generation s Walking Dead.One of the greatest American novels ever written and one that will still be as moving and relevant centuries from now as it speaks eternal truth in the American vernacular A must.