Book Review – The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner

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I haven’t, as I usually do, given this book a rating, because while I have finished reading it, I am not yet done with it! This is the most difficult book I have read and I intend to return to it again. What follows then is not so much a review as an exploration of my first impressions on reading the book for the first time. In fact, I think this is a book that must be discussed, not reviewed. And so, this ‘review’ might not even make sense to someone who hasn’t read the book!

The story, which is split into four parts revolves around the Compson family and is set in Mississippi. Three parts are set in 1928 and one is set in 1910. The main characters are the father – Jason Compson III, the mother – Caroline Bascomb Compson , their four children – Quentin, Caddy (Candace), Jason and Benjy – and Dilsey, the maid who, along with her children, looks after the family. It attempts to describe the circumstances that lead to the falling apart of the Compson family, by explaining events through the thoughts of three of the main characters.

The first part is told in the first person by Benjy, the youngest of the four Compson children. He has a mental disability and is 33-years old at the time of narration. This is an extremely disjointed section as Benjy’s thoughts flit back and forth between the present time and the time when he was a child.

While reading this section, I thought I understood parts, but more often than not, I realised that what I thought to be true a few pages earlier, might not in fact be the case! I nearly gave up a few times, but then when I realised that the first section was only 60 pages long, I decided to plod on.

Then an odd thing happened. The confusion I felt while reading the first section, seemed to disappear when I had completed it and the fragmented thoughts, on reflection, seemed to make sense, in retrospect, as a whole. I felt like I was immersed completely in Benjy’s head. And I’m guessing that that was one of the main reasons for Mr. Faulkner writing the book this way – to put us into the minds of each of the characters, without any distractions in the form of third party narratives. Continue reading

Writing 101: Day 1 – Unlock the Mind

So what should I write about for 20 minutes? I always have ideas popping into my head that I think would make for great articles / blog posts. Most of these ideas stem from my personal experiences and observations on the character / nature of human beings. Yet so few – and of late none really – of these ideas have actually materialised into articles. I guess I have more “important” things to do. But then again it is these “important” things that I’ve been doing that have given rise to most of the things I want to talk about. So it sort of is a Catch-22 situation. I want to write about what I am experiencing, but I can’t make the time. If I did make the time, I probably wouldn’t have the experiences to write about!

Twenty minutes is a looooooong time to sit writing at once stretch and without pausing to think! In fact I’m about 5 minutes in and my arm is already aching! It shows how little we use our writing muscles in this – the age of the gadget.

I keep wanting to stop and check what I’ve already written for grammatical errors – something I always do after I’ve written even just a short paragraph. But I’m being good and sticking to the rules. And you know what – It is SO liberating!

I really have to force myself to not go down the path of – could that sentence be better written? OR should this para come before that one? And gosh! I can see my handwriting getting progressively worse with each new sentence I write. My hand and arm muscles are in really bad shape!

About 12 minutes are up and I’m wondering what to write about next.

I initially thought I’d write about some of the difficulties I am currently facing in my life, but somehow when pen was put to paper things took a different turn. This stream-of-consciousness thing is a bit scary actually – almost as if your mind and pen are working in tandem, without you having any control over either!

It really is a brilliant exercise. And also feels like this could be a great stress buster (Not to mention an arm exerciser as well).

The muscles are really aching now and I’m wondering if I’ll be able to feed myself at the lunch I’m supposed to be at in a couple of hours or if I’ll have to be fed in a public place, with everyone staring at me.

I’m thinking that that last sentence could be worded so much better, so much funnier and oh how I’d love to check my grammar just once, but that’s the end of that now, because my 20 minutes are up and I’ve been so good and stuck to the rules and hey, I’m really proud of myself for doing so. Totally worth the embarrassing situation I might find myself in at the lunch today.

NOTE:

This post is in response to the first exercise in the Writing 101 guide which says:

“…Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write.

Keep typing (or scribbling, if you prefer to hand- write for this exercise) until your twenty minutes are up. It doesn’t matter if what you write is incomplete, or nonsense, or not worthy of the “Publish” button.

And for your first twist? Publish this stream- of-consciousness post on your blog.”