This is my book for the Back to the Classics Challenge: Category: Read A Tragic Novel.
_The Sound & the Fury_ was Faulkner’s fourth novel, published in 1929. It is set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. Faulkner wrote 17 books in this setting. The novel centers on the dysfunctional Compson family, former Southern aristocrats who gradually fall into financial ruin and lose the respect of their neighbors. The book starts and ends during a few days in April, 1928 (around Easter).
The novel is separated into four sections.
The first and most fragmented section is from the perspective of Benjy, an intellectually disabled 33-year-old man. (Wikipedia notes that originally, Faulkner meant to use different colored inks to signify chronological breaks.) The second section is told by his brother Quentin, a student at Harvard. The third section is told by the third brother, Jason, the most coherent narrator and the least sympathetic. The last section is a third person omniscient narrative focusing on Dilsey, the Compsons’ black cook.
I had to reread the beginning after I finished the book, but I think I was able to follow most of what was going on. Faulkner wrote an appendix that appears in edition I had checked out, which I found helpful for keeping track of the characters. There’s also a foreword by Marilynne Robinson, for the Modern Library edition. I recommend it if you have a chance to read that edition; she has some interesting things to say about the significance of Faulkner setting the book at Easter, probably too long to summarize here.
The story is dark, and pretty disturbing at times. Not one of my favorites, but I am glad I read it.