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Light in August by William Faulkner

Light in August (1932)

by William Faulkner

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6,78870544 (4.01)1 / 441

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English (66)  Dutch (1)  Hebrew (1)  Portuguese (1)  Spanish (1)  All (70)
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Lena Grove, fallen woman and saintly pilgrim, opens and closes the story with her banal, calm and peaceful observation: “My. My. A body does get around.” She’s been on the road four weeks when she begins the novel. She ends the book four weeks later, still on the road, repeating those words but in changed circumstances. The “getting around” part in the middle gets to just about every human passion and dilemma there is. Faulkner can generate more forceful metaphors per paragraph than other writers do in a book, although at times it does seem like Mr. Faulkner’s book is one, uninterrupted sentence inside one oceanic paragraph. Every word is right where it needs to be, just as every drop in the ocean occupies its rightful place.

Text like this: “When he went to bed that night his mind was made up to run away. He felt like an eagle: hard, sufficient, potent, remorseless, strong. But that passed, though he did not then know that, like the eagle, his own flesh as well as all space was still a cage.” (160)

Here is one lovely passage, a reflection on the process of reading but also much more:
Our anti-hero has “a magazine of that type whose covers bear either pictures of young women in underclothes or pictures of men in the act of shooting one another with pistols.” ….
“He ate his breakfast with his back against the tree, reading the magazine while he ate. He had previously read but one story; he began now upon the second one, reading the magazine straight through as though it were a novel. Now and then he would look up from the page, chewing, into the gunshot leaves which arched the ditch.… It seemed to him that he could see the yellow day opening peacefully on before him, like a corridor, an arras, into a still chiaroscuro without urgency. It seemed to him that as he sat there the yellow day contemplated him drowsily, like a prone and somnolent yellow cat. Then he read again. He turned the pages in steady progression, though now and then he would seem to linger upon one page, one line, perhaps one word. He would not look up then. He would not move, apparently arrested and held immobile by a single word which had perhaps not yet impacted, his whole being suspended by the single trivial combination of letters in quiet and sunny space, so that hanging motionless and without physical weight he seemed to watch the slow flowing of time beneath him …” (110-112)

One of the great joys of retirement is re-reading formative books from my youth. During my late teens I fell hard for Faulkner, with an at-arm’s-length, horror-stricken sort of obsession. Reading him was like drowning in an ocean I had been seeking my entire land-locked childhood. Today I keep dog-paddling as fast as I can, still the clumsy land-lubber yearning to be a sailor, or perhaps a fish.
  Mary_Overton | Jan 31, 2017 |
I've read this before, and a second reading exposes some of the fissures in the text, the way that it only loosely coheres around the enigmatic character of Joe Christmas. Still, you can see Faulkner really rounding into shape in this earlier novela, and Joanna Burden's creepy house anticipates Sutpen's house of horrors in Absalom, Absalom!. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
4 stars for Will Patton's wonderful narration and for the story itself, but 3 stars for Faulkner's writing style. ( )
  JennysBookBag.com | Sep 28, 2016 |
A book filled with people tortured by race and religion ( )
  M_Clark | Sep 28, 2016 |
No one else is Faulkner, or even close. That's all I have to say. ( )
  kerns222 | Aug 24, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (82 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Faulknerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Coindreau, Maurice-EdgarTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fein, FranzÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frielinghaus, HelmutÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Höbel, SusanneÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoel, SigurdTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaila, KaiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kristensen, Sven MøllerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Sitting beside the road, watching the wagon mount the hill toward her, Lena thinks, 'I have come from Alabama: a fur piece.'
Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679732268, Paperback)

“Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.” —William Faulkner
Light in August, a novel about hopeful perseverance in the face of mortality, features some of Faulkner’s most memorable characters: guileless, dauntless Lena Grove, in search of the father of her unborn child; Reverend Gail Hightower, who is plagued by visions of Confederate horsemen; and Joe Christmas, a desperate, enigmatic drifter consumed by his mixed ancestry.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:22 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Joe Christmas does not know whether he is black or white. Faulkner makes of Joe's tragedy a powerful indictment of racism; at the same time Joe's life is a study of the divided self and becomes a symbol of 20th century man. Light in August is the story od Lena Grove's search for the father of her unborn child, and features one of Faulkner's most memorable characters: Joe Christmas, a desperate drifter consumed by his mixed ancestry.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

Legacy Library: William Faulkner

William Faulkner has a Legacy Library. Legacy libraries are the personal libraries of famous readers, entered by LibraryThing members from the Legacy Libraries group.

See William Faulkner's legacy profile.

See William Faulkner's author page.

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