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As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

As I Lay Dying (1930)

by William Faulkner

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,702149261 (3.9)531
  1. 50
    Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor (joririchardson)
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    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.
  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.
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    A Death in the Family by James Agee (goodwinter)
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    Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (LottaBerling)
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    The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy (SanctiSpiritus)
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    Pélagie-la-Charrette by Antonine Maillet (Serviette)

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» See also 531 mentions

English (141)  Spanish (4)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (1)  All (149)
Showing 1-5 of 141 (next | show all)
“People to whom sin is just a matter of words, to them salvation is just words too.”

The novel opens with southern matriarch, Addie Bundren lying on her deathbed with the sound of her eldest child Cash making her coffin outside her window and the story is told from various viewpoints, relatives to neighbours and even including that of the dying woman herself. Addie’s dying wish is to be buried among her own people in Jefferson, Mississippi. So to comply with her wishes her husband Anse, and children, Cash, Darl, Jewel, Dewey Dell and Vardaman set about the task of carting her coffin on what should be "a hard day's ride" for the funeral. However, the journey becomes itself a sort of rite of passage as they have to deal with fire (a burning barn) and water (a dangerous river crossing when the local bridges are washed away following a storm).

The death of Addie Bundren inspires several characters to wrestle with questions of existence and identity. Her youngest child, Vardaman, associates a fish which he caught and cut into pieces just as she was her last breath with the transformation of Addie from a person into a non-person.

The book is filled with moments of heroism yet Faulkner's take on such battles is ironic. The Bundrens’ effort to get their wagon across the flooded river is undermined by the fact that it occurs for a questionable purpose similarly so is Jewel's efforts to save the coffin from the fire.

This is at times a difficult read as it slowly unravels the bleak nature of Addie’s life and in particular her relationship with her son, Jewel, the result of an affair with the local minister, and is populated with a cast of rather strange dirt poor southern Americans. The story is told using a stream of conciousness methodology which I'm never really a fan of personally but that being said is always something of a compulsive read as you ponder just what will happen to the family next. Whilst I did not find this a particularly scintillating read it will certainly not put me off looking up some of the author's other works. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Aug 27, 2017 |
Io mi immagino Faulkner che lima, pondera, rielabora, toglie, toglie, toglie, aggiunge un aggettivo... Forse perché leggendolo ho avvertito una TOTALE, soggiogante e, per certi versi, spaventosa padronanza della scrittura.
I paragrafi tediosi DOVEVANO e VOLEVANO essere tediosi. I passi DELIZIOSI, spesso brevissimi, sono come un bicchierino da vodka di acqua ghiacciata dati a un assetato.
La vita fa lo stesso con noi, ci tedia a lungo, ci fa venire sete e, lestamente, con noncuranza ci dà da bere un goccino di acqua, per tirare avanti... (questo vuol far passare il non tanto buono (d'animo) William).
In questo libro di Faulkner in particolare è DA SPELLARSI LE MANI PER GLI APPLAUSI, DA PIANGERE PER LA COMMOVENTE bravura il capitolo in cui parla la morta. Il finale invece è avvilente, lascia basiti, ti fa comparire un ghigno che ti rimane sulla faccia per una decina di minuti...
Forse c'è del masochismo nel leggere Faulkner, ma non credo che ciò basti a spiegare perché andrò ancora a cercare la sua compagnia...
Nota di colore: ma a quelli della SE non bastava il titolo? Pure la copertina più tetra che ci possa essere dovevano fare? :-DDD ( )
  downisthenewup | Aug 17, 2017 |
As I Lay Dying languished ostensibly 'currently-reading' shelf for some months as I hadn't got to grips with it; while I could recognise the quality of the writing I was, frankly, struggling; partly it hadn't gabbed me, but mostly the difficulty of both the voices in which each chapter is written (the individual slants on the broad Mississippian dialect) and piecing together the story from these separate viewpoints was an impediment. Perhaps I am just getting lazy in my reading.

I returned to it last week, starting again from the beginning, and perhaps this is what helped things fall into place. While still not an easy book (and who says books should be easy) I was now able to both appreciate the writing and 'get' the book enough to enjoy it.

It tells the story of Addie Bundren's death and her family's efforts to transport her body for burial to the town of Jackson, in accordance with her wishes. Told from the points of view of the various characters - the several children of varying ages, her husband, assorted other people variously connected to events and, a couple of times, from Addie herself - the tale builds a complex and partial narrative, revealing secrets, ulterior motives and a web drives and agendas such as those behind all human activity and relationships, simple country folk or otherwise.

In the end, we are left with little resolution and more questions about this family than we had at the beginning, although perhaps this in itself a suitable conclusion as we step back out of their lives. ( )
  Pezski | Jun 8, 2017 |
Faulkner is an acquired taste. As with "The Sound and the Fury" I gave the book a good try but just couldn't get through it. Specifically I didn't really care to see where the characters were going.

Faulkner may be a literary master of depicting a time/place/human condition, and for that I can see how he's loved among some. But I want a story about characters who I want to know about. These people... I could't care where they wound up. ( )
  NateK | May 24, 2017 |
I was never forced to read Faulkner when young. I certainly wouldn't have appreciated him in high school. And yet, forty years later, I guess nothing has changed on that respect. I am utterly at a loss as to how this is "one of the greatest novels of the 20th century". Faulkner said he wrote this over six weeks and didn't change a word. Bully for him and condolences to the readers. This has no redeeming value that I can see, no light shining on a human condition, no entertainment value, no educational component.

Too bad time has a direction arrow. I'd love to get this time back and read something good. If this is one of his most "accessible" novels, well, I'm not going to be reading any more Faulkner. Kind of knew that from the start. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (57 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Faulknerprimary authorall editionscalculated
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)

» see all 6 descriptions

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