As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text

William Faulkner
“I set out deliberately to write a tour-de-force. Before I ever put pen to paper and set down the first word I knew what the last word would be and almost where the last period would fall.” —William Faulkner on As I Lay Dying As I Lay Dying is Faulkner’s harrowing account of the Bundren family’s odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to bury Addie, their wife and mother. Narrated in turn  by each of the family members—including Addie herself—as well as others the novel ranges in mood, from dark comedy to the deepest pathos.


Reviewed: 2017-11-17
Easy to see how this was a revolutionary piece - - but the dialect dragged for me, and the seriously strong story and character elements took a lot of wading and digging to get to. It took a viewing of the faithful (and highly worthwhile) 2013 James Franco movie to show me a few things I missed in the accented quagmire.
Reviewed: 2015-07-14
Rich, descriptive, gritty, harsh prose worth 5 stars for individual chapters, but ultimately fails for trying too hard and is a case study in why to edit sober.

I really wanted to like this more than I did. The prose is, at moments, stunning. The opening narrations draw in the reader with rich description. You can almost taste the sweat, the dirt, the cool water from a cedar bucket.

Ultimately, however, the multi-voiced approach lacks cohesion and narrative direction. The number of voices is at moments overwhelming and at most times simply confusing. Coupled with the pseudo-stream of consciousness, it just seemed like too much.

I think the approach and style could have worked well if just told through the voice's of Addie's five children. However, even that is probably a bit much. Jewel has a natural distance/difference from his siblings that causes his voice to add little to the story. Further, the attempt at Vardaman's voice as a young child makes him seem more mentally handicapped than merely young, and is perhaps the biggest failure of the novel. Thus, I feel like an approach just through the eyes of Darl, Cash, and Dewey Dell would have kept to the spirit and style of the novel while providing a much more cohesive and comprehensible narrative. Any decent editor would have told Faulkner this, yet the novel was published "without changing a word" (not really, but still).

In the end, I can't get myself to give it even 4 stars, let alone the 5 that are warranted by snippets of Faulkner's prose.
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@ginadavidson completed #asilaydying... on 2015-09-27
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