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The first couple hours are very difficult to get through due to the first narrator's viewpoint. I recommend consulting an online summary of the book before you start listening, otherwise you could be lost, like I was. As the book shifts to the perspective of the other three narrators it gets better, and enjoyable, even though I found Jason's narration despicable because of his pettiness and meanness. The reader did an excellent job with the dialects and accents.
My God, this is a depressing novel. Every word Faulkner writes, every memory that is explored, every action in the novel is distilled into a lingering, oppressive, sadness that is as omnipresent as the honeysuckle Quentin so hated.
I started off enjoying the novel; I liked the experimental way Faulkner tries to convey the confused mind of Benjy. As someone who grew up with and spent years working with severely mentally disabled adults, I felt Faulkner honestly captured the state of mind of someone who is almost totally unable to experience rational and unselfish thought.
The second chapter, too, was quite beautiful but at times was nearly impenetrable. Pretty much only the scene with the little girl, when his mind stops wandering and he focuses only on finding her home, really seemed to have much of an impact for me. Everything else - the broken watch, his drunken father's philosophical ramblings, his time with Caddy - seemed ... distant. Distant is the best way I can describe it from a reader's point of view. I never felt like I was part of Quentin's experiences even though we spend so much time in his mind. He was no Bloom.
The final two chapters were straightforward enough. We learn many of the previously mysterious details that Benjy's and Quentin's minds could not clearly articulate (or were unwilling to articulate). And Jason was a wonderful character - the best in the book. Faulkner certainly has created one of the great characters in literature with Jason.
But what does this all add up to? Yes, the novel is about the south and the south's decline, but what South? Was there a time when people did not behave badly, were devious, cheats, liars, manipulators, and every other sin you can imagine? Maybe there were times in the Compson family when they were more outwardly respectable, but how do we really know those "better" people were actually any better? Is Faulkner so nostalgic for a long forgotten time that he actually believes we've all degenerated in our time?
I doubt Faulkner was so naive or sentimental. He write a book in which the main characters are all flawed and fallen ne'er–do–wells, who all long for a time when things were better and resent the present because it didn't turn out the way they wanted it too. Adults who haven't really ever grown up. In a way he wrote a warning against sentimentality, against seeing the past with thick rose colored glasses because if you keep trying to compare yourself against an impossible standard you will only disappoint yourself or, if you're smart, just run away from your entire family.
From that point of view, then, this isn't a "southern" novel bemoaning the end of one specific time and culture of Faulkner's love that will unfortunately never return, he's trying to warn us from falling into the cycle of always going back to the past. If your mind is always full of how things were and how things used to be then you will miss every opportunity to better yourself tomorrow. The Compson's totally fell apart because they could not come to terms with reality.
Yet even with such an analysis, I just could not get into this novel. I really wanted to, but you have to approach every work of art from the perspective of how it effects you personally and this novel just made me feel sad after having witnessed so much misery on every page.
One of the greatest American novels, and Grover Gardner's narration is among Audible.com's very best. Gardner doesn't just read Faulkner, he becomes him.
This is the best reader of Faulkner I have ever heard. He has the perfect Southern dialect and accent for the novel. For those who have never read the book, the first chapter will be confusing. I suggest you at least look at the printed version for a few pages before listening -- it will help you figure out what is going on.
This audiobook is very difficult to follow. I had to give up on it after 70 minutes. I listen to audiobooks while exercising and there is simply too much back-and-forth conversation in Faulkner's writing. It's a classic - to be read, not listened to.
Faulkner was one of my favorite modern authors when I studied literature. His brilliance is the latency of the revelation. Only a persistent reader is rewarded.
I had reasonable expectations for audiobooks. When I drive, I fight the tedium by engaging my mind. 20 or 25 full length audios
This is the first I couldn't listen to. I think I lasted about 2.5 hours (in 20 minute increments) It was awful. The narrator was nasal & he used a falsetto for female voices. The diction was true to the punctuation. Usually an asset, except when reading Faulkner. The repetition of "he said" with indistinguished tone, was torture. The ebb & flow of lucidity, crucial to understanding the text, is inaccessible.
There are so many great texts to have read to you, this isn't one of them. I suggest that one engage Faulkner at his game, read the book. Don't listen to this.
I've tried several times to listen to this recording in the car while traveling to and from work, but haven't been able to make it past the first two hours. Faulkner is difficult enough to follow on the written page where you at least have the ability to visually scan back a few paragraphs or pages when you've lost the thread of the plot or dialog, but for me it proved impossible to follow on audio. The endless "he said" "she said" dialog was very irritating to listen to. I don't think I'll try another Faulkner on audio.
One master-passion in the br east, like Aaron's serpent, swallows all the rest. A. Pope
If you were raised in the green South, you know that smell Exactly.
I never thought I could read this book; I tried 20, 10 years past. I could not understand what the heck was going on, the characters, the setting in time or even why I should be reading it, besides wanting to read an icon, author and title, in my Mississippi.
I finally got the gumption to go for it.
For me, it took listening, reading sometimes twice, and a companion guide.
I must say there are definitely rewards, not the least of which is gaining the satisfaction of reading this classic about a dysfunctional Mississippi family at the turn of the 20th century.
Go for it! Super exercise for the brain!!
English is not my first language so classics are never easy for me, but the narration is truely superb, makes listening very enjoyable!!! I'm gonna check out what other books this guy have narrated, he certainly has the talent of making the story come alive.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
The Sound and the Fury starts with a non-chronological stream of consciousness narrative from the point of view of a mentally challenged young boy. This part is a bit hard to follow the first time through and it really helps to read a synopsis (like the Wikipedia entry) before reading this section. Several printed version use italics to indicate the temporal shifts, which are hard to catch in the audio version. At times the prose rise to the level of greatness, but this is not so for of most of the writing. I found the stream of consciousness writing in the first section much less effective (and less enjoyable) than the narration in James Joyce’s Ulysses (which predated The Sound and the Fury by nearly a decade). Here the stream of consciousness, at times, seems inconsistent with the mental capabilities of character, and is subtly broken when the story demands clarity.
Other sections use other narration styles and are more story like. The novel tells a story that rings true, but is unpleasant and unaffirming. This is a story of the slow decay of an upper class southern family and includes demeaning portrayals of black servants, anti-Semitism, and other politically incorrect material.
This novel has some moments of excellent writing, and has some elements that were (almost) revolutionary at the time of publication, yet I found this overall a good, not great read.
This version does not include the appendix covering the fictional family’s history that is included in many later print versions.
Grover Gardner’s narration (as usual) is excellent, particularly considering the challenging material.
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