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As I Lay Dying: The More You Know.

William Faulkner and his Literary Kin

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Mar 1, 2010, 3:36am Top

You folks ready for the AILD!?

As I Lay Dying should continue the breeziness of Light in August, but don't get lazy, folks, after this one, it's all business!

For those who have read it, is there anything you would recommend (without going too in depth or spoiling anything) new readers be on the lookout for, or just be aware of while enjoying Faulkner's stream experience that will hopefully enhance their enjoyment of the tremendous work?

Starting with some (extraordinarily) basic ideas off the top of my head:

-Faulkner's initial idea for the novel was to present a modern legend. A family facing the elements one after another.

-Pay attention to FISH! FISH! FISH! FISH!

-It's told from 15 POVs alternating in short chapters, and isn't exactly linear.

-These are the poorest subjects Faulkner's written about (or so I've heard).


Don't be intimidated by his stream of consciousness! It's a breeze, I swear! And is often regarded as Faulkner's most simple story. Should provide a solid warmup to Sound+Fury and later Absalom, too. ;D

Mar 2, 2010, 3:07am Top

I'd second that people ought not feel daunted by AILD. A few people I know thought it was really hard, and I just cannot understand how they could think that. It's a pretty straightforward story, and it's told pretty intuitively. As long as pretty basic stream-of-consciousness writing doesn't faze you too much, you're golden. With that said, it's maybe my favorite Faulkner novel, so the relative simplicity of the book's structure does not bleed into its thematic resonances. I envy those of you who have never read it before.

Edited: Mar 6, 2010, 1:24pm Top

I agree. It is much easier than The Sound & Fury. But regarding the latter, once you understand the "trick" of out-of-sequence narrations, it too, is fairly readable.

Mar 6, 2010, 3:14pm Top

I am very much looking forward to it. LIA was my first Faulkner and I did love it so I am hoping that feeling carries through the rest of his works.

Mar 13, 2010, 5:29pm Top

I finished earlier this week and am still collecting my thoughts. In the meantime, Southeast Missouri State University has an entire series on Teaching Faulkner which has a lot of articles about all of the novels and many of the short stories. For As I Lay Dying:

As I Lay Dying: The Oprah Book Club Lectures by Robert W. Hamblin - "In 2005 Professor Hamblin led the Oprah Book Club's online discussions of As I Lay Dying for Oprah Winfrey's "Summer of Faulkner." Those discussions included a number of video-taped mini-lectures on the characters, themes, structure, and context of the novel."

A Discourse Analysis of Darl's Descent into Madness in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying by Shannon Terry Wiley, The John Cooper School, The Woodlands, Texas

Elucidating Addie Bundren in As I Lay Dying by Morna Flaum, Highland Mills, New York

Fifteen Ways of Looking at the Bundrens by Cheryl Lester, University of Kansas

The Right Tools for the Job: Cash Bundren’s Tool Box in Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying by Barbara Ann Cass, University of Illinois at Springfield

What's in a Name? Etymology and As I Lay Dying by Faye Friesen and Charles Peek

"Because if there is a God What the Hell is He for?": Frenchman's Bend and Its Piety in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying by Charles A. Peek, University of Nebraska at Kearney

The Four Women of the Apocalypse: Addie and Cora, Sula and Nel and the Collapse of the Mythic Female by K. Ruth Seaber, Southeast Missouri State University

Viewing Addie Bundren Through a Feminist Lens by Annette Wannamaker, Bowling Green State University

Mar 16, 2010, 7:29am Top

Wow, Jane. That's a treasure trove. Thanks for posting those links.

Mar 16, 2010, 8:09pm Top

You know, I've read, and loved, this book many times before. For some reason there seems to be a very high threshold between me and another reread. Why is that? Maybe just because I'm lazy - it does take a little bit of energy to read it with the attention it deserves. I am sure that once I start I'll be enveloped, yet again. But starting is the problem....

Mar 18, 2010, 2:33pm Top

Thank you Jane for taking all that time and trouble to post those links for all of us. I appreciate it so much and I'm sure most everyone else does also.

Mar 20, 2010, 5:31pm Top

Belated ditto of Belva's message 8 post! Good work, janepriceestrada. When I get to As I Lay Dying, I'll be sure and reference this thread lots!

Apr 14, 2010, 1:03am Top

I am having mixed feelings so far. The dialectal efforts seem to rope in every cliche in the corral, but on the other hand it was 1930 and those cliches have to come from somewhere. I like the focus on material culture--the bananas, the bevels, the fish--and the beginnings of consumer culture--these people are so poor they can't afford cheap mass-produced sugar and white bread, and wouldn't know what to do with more shit even if they could afford it. I don't like the Faulknerian irruptions, where the characters suddenly start talking with his diction. It feels patriarchal as well as patrician.

Nov 19, 2013, 5:00pm Top

Has anyone seen the Franco movie yet? I watched it last weekend, and found it quite faithful to the novel. Brilliantly done, but it didn't quite capture the black comedy elements. My husband, who hasn't read the novel, agreed that it was extremely well done, but grindingly depressing, and hard to watch. Well, he has a point...

Apr 28, 2014, 11:04pm Top

11: Has anyone seen the Franco movie yet? I watched it last weekend, and found it quite faithful to the novel. Brilliantly done, but it didn't quite capture the black comedy elements.

Ever notice the more one slavishly adheres to the original source material, the less humor they have? Probably why a sourpuss like Harold Bloom has no talent for writing jokes, but an infinite capacity for scolding.

Apr 29, 2014, 7:39am Top

Poor old Harold Bloom....the man gets so little love around here! He sure can be an utter poop.

Jul 21, 2014, 1:25pm Top

13: Reminds of this monologue from the cinema classic, Animal House:

(None of his literature students are paying attention)
Jennings: Don't write this down, but I find Milton probably as boring as you find Milton. Mrs. Milton found him boring too. He's a little bit long-winded, he doesn't translate very well into our generation, and his jokes are terrible.
(Bell rings, students rise to leave)
Jennings: But that doesn't relieve you of your responsibility for this material. Now I'm waiting for reports from some of you... Listen, I'm not joking. This is my job!

Jul 21, 2014, 1:44pm Top

"his jokes are terrible" I didn't know he made any!

Edited: Nov 6, 2014, 12:25pm Top

Nov 19, 2014, 6:35pm Top


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