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As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

As I Lay Dying (original 1930; edition 1964)

by William Faulkner

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9,554123301 (3.9)462
Title:As I Lay Dying
Authors:William Faulkner
Info:Vintage (1964), Paperback
Collections:Your library, Read

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As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1930)

  1. 51
    The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (2below)
    2below: Both involve complicated characters (some might say messed up), crazy mishaps, and fascinating unstable and unreliable narratives. Also excellent examples of Modernist fiction.
  2. 30
    Wise Blood: A Novel by Flannery O'Connor (joririchardson)
  3. 30
    Getting Mother's Body by Suzan-Lori Parks (aethercowboy)
    aethercowboy: Getting Mother's Body is a reimagining of As I Lay Dying through a different culture's point of view.
  4. 20
    A Death in the Family by James Agee (goodwinter)
  5. 21
    Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (LottaBerling)
  6. 10
    The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy (SanctiSpiritus)

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Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
By showing different view points from each character, the story was able to captivate me to the point where I could not put the book down. The use of different archetypes for each character made the plot more interesting. Addie's family and the mishaps that happen to them while they are on their way to bury Addie makes you question what really ties a family together and if this family was stable at all. ( )
  Potatoangel | Jun 25, 2015 |
This was my first Faulkner book; I'd expected it to be fairly arduous, but once I got into the swing of the language and his style of prose I really enjoyed it.

Written in a modernist stream of consciousness style, the story is about the death and burial of Addie Bundren, as observed by her children, husband, and other characters from the surrounding area. It's one of those books where nothing much happens and yet everything happens. At the beginning of the book we learn about the perceived natures of each of the family members through different narrator perspectives, and as the journey to bury Addie progresses we see their true colours emerge, concluding with different opinions of them than was originally presented to us.

There were many moments of black humour throughout, often to do with poor deceased Mrs Bundren in her homemade coffin as the final journey to her hometown continually got derailed.

Faulkner's method of narration left a bit of work for the reader at times, so I read the online Sparknotes for the book as I went to make sure my understanding was staying on the right track.

4 stars for a very different and worthwhile read. ( )
1 vote AlisonY | Apr 25, 2015 |
I hated As I Lay Dying. Part of me worries about this, since it’s a classic and presumably there must be something great about it. But whatever it is that makes people like Faulkner completely skipped me by.

I think I should preface the rest of the review with the acknowledgement that I read this as a school assignment. I would not have picked it up otherwise, and I would certainly not have continued with it.

The writing was torturous to get through. Just take a gander at “his pale eyes like wood set into his wooden face”. Thank goodness it was only 260 pages. It was hard enough to get through the writing and the tedium of it, and there was no way I could do so for longer.

It was also difficult to figure out what was actually happening in the book. If I hadn’t checked SparkNotes, I would never have figured out that a character was pregnant.

Also, I didn’t care about any of the characters, not the slightest bit. They were all self obsessed and unlikable.

I would not recommend As I Lay Dying.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Mar 3, 2015 |
Quando si legge F. bisognerebbe partire dall'assunto che siamo su un altro livello rispetto a qualsiasi altra cosa.
Una categoria a sé, poco a che vedere con la letteratura.

Questo testo è snello rispetto ad altri capolavori dell'autore, ma ugualmente profondo e a piani di lettura intersecantisi, belli.
Non trovo tuttavia il 'comico' e il 'ridicolo' citati da Giuliani nella 4^ di copertina: dopo la lettura del libro di Agee ed Evans di cui parlo altrove, qui vedo solo miseria, ignoranza, fatica, fatica, fatica, ingenuità, malizia, perversita', follia ottusa. Non c'e' niente da riderne.

Poi, come sempre con Faulkner, bisogna tenere aperte tutte le sinapsi nervose, i pori della pelle, il senso degli odori e dei suoni, per assumere lo scritto nella sua potenza, perchè è quella l'unica modalità di lettura che possa rendere giustizia alle sue parole. ( )
  bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
I haven't read much Faulkner, but I've read enough to know he's not my cup of tea. Written in the vernacular of the south, in an intense stream of consciousness style, usually with a degree of willful obfuscation. I don't think Faulkner is a bad writer, I just dislike his work, and As I Lay Dying hasn't made me reevaluate that opinion.

As I Lay Dying takes place in the strange ahistorical version of Mississippi where Faulkner sets almost all his stories, a place where it could just as easily be the 1880s as the 1920s. Besides a few references to things like telephones and cars in the final chapters of this book there is very little to give you a temporal anchor for when this trip occurs. This uncertainty extends not only to the setting, but to the events of the story and sometimes the characters as well. The character of Dewey Dell, for instance, is female, but this isn't firmly established until after her first point of view chapter has already occurred. She's mentioned on page 15 (in my edition) by name for the first time, but without any identifying pronouns. She isn't concretely identified as female until page 48, though it's possible to figure it out prior to this. The problem is that Dewey Dell's first point of view chapter makes very little sense if you think she's male as her name would suggest. It's obvious enough what's happening if you know she's female, but again that information is only concretely provided later. This is an example of Faulkner's willful obfuscation: all the other characters know Dewey Dell is female, and if the writer was actually present at the scene that information would be clear as well, but despite this Faulkner leaves the reader in the dark. This intentional denial of information also occurs when characters are speaking, for instance on page 96 and 97 in a Cash and Darl chapters it's not at all clear who is speaking, the book instead referring to an unidentified "he." You find out quickly enough who it is, but my complaint is that the text adds uncertainty where the characters have none. Faulkner is thus willfully complicating the book, and there doesn't seem to be sufficient justification for doing so.

Other things in this book also require that the reader put in more effort than normal to follow. The book drops the readers into the middle of the lives of these characters without any introductory explanation of who they are or why they are the way they are, and leaves the reader to figure out what is happening on their own. Note: I don't mind this. The story also skips around in time with little indication, leaving the reader to piece together the timeline. The chapters taking the point of view of Vardaman are especially hard to follow, as he is either especially young or has been unbalanced by his mother's death or both. There are also a few chapters that deal with Darl thinking about some half-baked "was is is-not" thoughts that have no substance to them. Much of this feels like Faulkner making the narrative more complicated primarily for the sake of making the narrative more complicated, not for a deeper purpose. It's easy enough to figure out everything that happens in this book by flipping back and forth a few times, but I don't see why Faulkner made it necessary to do this. Life is complicated and uncertain, and family relationships are complicated and uncertain, to be sure, but Faulkner isn't just obfuscating that stuff from us, he's also disguising the very actions of the characters and events of the book, which in my interpretation hurts the work more than it enhances Faulkner's themes.

So anyway, willful obfuscation and needless complication, with a few chapters that are particularly stupid or convoluted are my main complaints with this book. I imagine that if you're someone who loves Faulkner's writing these will be easy enough to overlook. For my part, though, much of Faulkner's prose doesn't hit home. There's a page where a character is "vomiting his crying," and it's clear that Faulkner thought that this was a very evocative turn of phrase, but I found it an utterly ineffective image. I also tend to very much dislike stream of consciousness prose, and while some books are strong enough to overcome that dislike (Under the Volcano), this one was not.

Credit where credit is due though, Faulkner does a great job of establishing characters and giving them real depth in a relatively short book. There is a ton of characterization, each character having a distinct personality and motivation and mostly distinctive ways of thinking in their point of view chapters. Dewey Dell's parallel quest made her the most compelling for me, though it also helps that she's the most "normal" of the characters. Darl is an interesting riddle of a character. I oftentimes don't find hotheaded characters sufficiently explained or compelling, but Jewel was an exception. Anse is a perfect portrayal of those pathetic people we all know that blame all their problems on anyone but themselves. Only Vardaman did I find relatively generic.

As I Lay Dying cranks up many of the aspects of Faulkner I dislike, and I think some of the intentional obfuscation is more of an annoyance than an effective literary choice, but its characters make me understand why someone would love this book. I, however, didn't. At least it was short, but in the future if I want to try more Faulkner I'll probably just read a few more stories out of Go Down, Moses. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Faulknerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Raver, LornaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Hal Smith
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Jewel and I come up from the field, following the path in single file.
"She's a-going," he says. "Her mind is set on it."
Sometimes I aint so sho who's got ere a right to say when a man is crazy and when he aint. Sometimes I think it aint none of us pure crazy and aint none of us pure sane until the balance of us talks him that-a-way. It's like it aint so much what a fellow does, but it's the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it.
My mother is a fish.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 067973225X, Paperback)

Faulkner's distinctive narrative structures--the uses of multiple points of view and the inner psychological voices of the characters--in one of its most successful incarnations here in As I Lay Dying. In the story, the members of the Bundren family must take the body of Addie, matriarch of the family, to the town where Addie wanted to be buried. Along the way, we listen to each of the members on the macabre pilgrimage, while Faulkner heaps upon them various flavors of disaster. Contains the famous chapter completing the equation about mothers and fish--you'll see.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:17 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

At the heart of this 1930 novel is the Bundren family's bizarre journey to Jefferson to bury Addie, their wife and mother. Faulkner lets each family member--including Addie--and others along the way tell their private responses to Addie's life. As I Lay Dying is the harrowing, darkly comic tale of the Bundren family's trek across Mississippi to bury Addie, their wife and mother, as told by each of the family members--including Addie herself.… (more)

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