Thoughts on William Faulkner’s “The Sound And The Fury”

Lately I’ve been pushing through William Faulkner’s story of family strife, told so far through the most convoluted stream-of-consciousness narrative I’ve ever encountered. Halfway through, I was almost ready to quit. Turning to Wikipedia, I was relieved to find that Faulkner’s insane psycho-drivel has been confusing people for many years. It wasn’t just me.

The story also fits the rambling narrative, being told at first by (I believe) an autistic child, then by a manic depressive southern boy facing moral difficulties and past upsets. Both characters are unstructured and unreliable, almost unnervingly difficult to interpret story tellers. It has been difficult to follow the story so far.

Along with this rambling style, Faulkner uses very little punctuation, if at all. Italics are used in mid-sentence to deliver characters present thoughts, transitions into flashbacks or side story, or other story elements that flow through the characters minds. The sentences are picked up where they left off, seemingly at random, when the thoughts or flashback ends. This erratic writing style is apparently made up for by the last half of the book, which is narrated by a more mentally sound character, followed by a third person narrative.

Hopefully punctuation is also used. I do appreciate stream-of-consciousness, but I almost gave up the book due to it’s long passages of unpunctuated free roaming thought. The imitation of the mind’s wandering thoughts is what makes this style remarkable, so I’ll try to appreciate “The Sound And The Fury” for that and forgive William Faulkner for 200 pages of unedited drunken writing.

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