The Sound and the Fury is the tragedy of the Compson family, featuring some of the most memorable characters in literature: beautiful, rebellious Caddy; the manchild Benjy; haunted, neurotic Quentin; Jason, the brutal cynic; and Dilsey, their black servant. Their lives fragmented and harrowed by history and legacy, the character’s voices and actions mesh to create what is arguably Faulkner’s masterpiece and one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.
“I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire. . . . I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.” —from The Sound and the Fury
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I love this book! For those who are thinking about reading it, I suggest you read it only when you have the time to read everyday, and the patience to read closely and to pay attention. It's no walk in the park but it is a fantastic literary work!
If you want to fall in love with a book...
Then this is the one. Faulkner is a master of point of view. This book is told from four very different perspectives, each describing overlapping events. It's a lot like Cubism, only not all at once. On the level of characters, you will fall in love with Caddy and Dilsey, revile Jason, and sympathize with Quentin, the quintessential Faulkner character. But alas, with Faulkner, it's all about style. Nobody comes close to Faulkner's sprawling prose...sentences are paragraphs or pages long...mainly free association and interior monologue. This is one of the more challenging of his works, but if you want a friend for life, a strange bedfellow, but a true friend nonetheless, then this is the read for you.
Devolves into babble
Anyone who says they can understand this book w/o some background knowledge (or sparknotes) is lying. You may get through the first couple chapters, but the midpoint of the book devolves into complete babble. Really. It's like reading a schizophrenic's diary who also happens to have multiple personalities and no concept of time. That's the best summary of "the Sound and the Fury" that you'll find. Read "Light in August" or "As I Lay Dying" instead.