I doubt I would have read any of Faulkner’s works had it not been for a college course I took. It was 100% Faulkner, which meant eight entire novels and a good number of short stories.
They were all difficult, with excessively long sentences that any self-respecting editor would completely rip to shreds. Plots got convoluted, important themes and images were often lost in the meandering sentences, and I was tempted to fling the books across the room at some points.
Quite frankly, Faulkner’s writing can be boring and irritating on the surface. My professor advised that we read each book as many times as it takes to fully understand it.
Being the dork that I am, I didn’t go for the Cliff’s Notes. I read the first book we were supposed to read (The Sound and the Fury) about four times before it all clicked into place for me. On the first, second, and third readings, I was hopelessly confused. But I managed to keep away from Wikipedia, which was a huge temptation.
On my first reading of The Sound and the Fury, I was swept away by the conflict between the characters and the masterful rendering of the “idiot” Benjy’s thoughts. I wanted to understand the book and the subject matter interested me, so I found the patience to read it more than once.
I’m glad did. I wish I could write like Faulkner, but nobody’s really that good. I’ll aspire to reach Faulkner’s writing capabilities, but I won’t ever get there. I know it. But it’s a great goal to aspire to for any writer.
For the rest of the class on Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury remained my favorite of his works. As I Lay Dying was probably my least favorite, mainly because the subject matter didn’t interest me enough.
As all good literature should, Faulkner’s works inspired me, taught me something about myself, and gave me a good idea of how he perceived Southern culture.
So… have you ever read any of Faulkner’s work? Did you love it or hate it? Did you read it for class or for pleasure? I love to hear any and all opinions, even ones I don’t agree with. Isn’t that the spirit of the Internet? Exchange of opinions and perhaps a friendly argument? 🙂