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Sanctuary by William Faulkner
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Sanctuary (1931)

by William Faulkner

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English (27)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
I’m trying to imagine a darker world than the one William Faulkner portrays in [b:Sanctuary|18789|Sanctuary|William Faulkner|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1385366876s/18789.jpg|1646639], and I can’t come up with one. There is not one character who isn’t pretty much despicable in his/her own right. Even Benbow, the lawyer who seeks to help a man that he knows is not guilty of the murder for which he is charged, is weak and unsavory in many ways.

What happens to Temple Drake, who finds herself in a very dangerous situation because she is young, naive, and clueless about the world at large, should not happen to the worst among us. The passages concerning her were desperately difficult to read. They are so stark and realistic, written in a quick clipped manner that echoes the shallow, frightened breathes you know she is taking. I found myself holding on to my own breath and gasping, with a tightness in my chest that surprised me.

No one could ever accuse Faulkner of being easy reading. He suggests more than tells sometimes, or you get a few chapters along and wonder if you missed something previous or even misunderstood what you have read. He loves to answer questions only after you have given up on getting the answers you need, and he washes through a very important event and then gives you bits of details later in the story. It is exhilarating and irritating at the same time. I have never closed one of his books without feeling that I should start over at the beginning and read it again.

Sanctuary is not my favorite Faulkner, but Temple Drake is, I believe, one of his stronger characters. She is a complicated mixture of vixen and child, she is a victim of not only the evil that is Popeye, but of the evil that is the system in which she has been raised and from which she draws her morals, or lack thereof. I’m looking forward to reading [b:Requiem for a Nun|1008839|Requiem for a Nun|William Faulkner|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1334525385s/1008839.jpg|2041161] and seeing where her future takes her. What possible meaning could life have after an experience like this one?
( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
Very, very dark. More accessible than the Faulkner of The Sound and the Fury. But the depravity of many of the characters in this book is just as distancing as the difficult diction and sentence structure in other books. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
It's hard to go wrong with Faulkner. This book is no different. ( )
1 vote MPaddock | Sep 22, 2017 |
For many years, William Faulkner was my favorite fiction author. I loved the challenge of trying to figure out just what was going on in his stories. (His technique of referring to a character as “him” or “her” without further identification until much later in the narrative has been adopted by Cormac McCarthy, another of my favorites.)

Faulkner’s habit of description by indirection came in handy in his 1932 novel, Sanctuary which deals with some pretty nasty stuff, particularly for the time of publication. As for the nasty stuff, Temple Drake, a young college girl from a prominent Mississippi family, goes on a date with who drinks himself into oblivion and leaves her with a group of bootleggers right out of Deliverance [pardon the anachronism]. She is then raped with a corn cob because her assailant, Popeye, is impotent. Popeye is a stone cold killer, who then takes her to a Memphis whore house, where, among other indignities, she is forced to have sex with “Red,” while Popeye watches. Popeye later shoots Red, presumably out of jealousy. This sounds like it would be a pretty tawdry book, but Faulkner’s descriptions are so oblique, that he slips the nastiness by the reader without being pornographic, or even particularly graphic.

Faulkner makes some wry observations about Southern society. The justice system is anything but just, hanging at least one innocent man and convicting Popeye of a murder he didn’t commit. Temple’s date is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where he “learned to drink like a gentleman.” A local politician is about as crass, venal, and corrupt as any you will find in literature or real life, at least before Trump.

Faulkner’s writing, as always, alternates between very terse and purple prose. He sometimes uses adjectives that seemed to come from his Thesaurus. I guess to appreciate Faulkner, you just have to take the purple with the terse.

(JAB) ( )
  nbmars | Sep 10, 2017 |
Picked up Sanctuary because I was in a gothic frame of mind and this seemed to have all the right elements: a mouldering old house in the country, mentally deficient bootleggers, jaded women, judgmental women, a Virginia gentleman with a fatal flaw, corrupt small town politicians, broken marriages, gangsters, speakeasies, whorehouses, and a murder mystery that remains mysterious right up to the end of the tale. Little did I comprehend just how much horror Faulkner could manage to spin out of these ingredients.

Wondering how this all fits together? Hope you aren’t in any hurry, because large chunks of this don’t fall into place until the final pages of the book. For reasons having to do with art or perhaps too much bourbon on writing nights, Faulkner’s narrative is frustratingly impenetrable. Some parts are told but left unexplained (if there’s such a thing as taking “show, don’t tell” too far, Faulkner has accomplished it here), some key elements are referenced only obliquely, and some aren’t referenced at all, while other events are told 2-3 times over from the perspective of different narrators, all of them undependable. Don’t pick this up unless you’re willing to invest a LOT of effort into figuring out what’s going on.

I’m sure hoping Faulkner’s intent in writing this was to shock, as the plot is still morally appalling now, 70 years after the initial publication date. College party girl Temple Drake falls into the hands of a triumvirate of creepy gangsters, one of whom rapes her with her corncob. The next morning one of the three (halfwit Tommy) is dead, Temple’s disappeared, and Horace Benbow, disenchanted Memphis lawyer, is hired to defend Lee Goodwin, one of the two remaining gangsters, against charges of murder. Eventually Temple reappears to tell her story, but by that time this happens her story doesn’t much matter and you probably won’t care, because you (like the characters in the story) will have figured out that this isn’t the kind of story in which justice prevails. In fact, this isn’t the sort of tale in which justice even figures.

If the novel’s unrelenting dark mood doesn’t give it away, then the moral turpitude of every single actor in the drama should. Seriously, EVERYONE in this novel is flawed, some appallingly so: Temple has a fatal attraction for bad boys and doesn’t mind incriminating an innocent man to save her reputation; her beau Gowan, a supposed “gentleman” out of UVA, is a drunkard who literally abandons her to the depravity of the gangsters; Goodwin’s a criminal with a devoted ex-whore for a wife and a ghastly half-alive infant they keep in a box behind the stove so the rats won’t get to it; gangster #2, Popeye, is the impotent, sadistic son of a syphilitic mother; Horace Benbow, Goodwin’s lawyer, has abandoned his wife and is *way* too into his stepdaughter; odious state senator Clarence Snopes doesn’t mind selling information related to Goodwin’s innocence to the highest bidder; Narcissa, Benbow’s sister, is a shrew; and the fair residents of Jefferson aren’t above a cozy lynching between friends. This is a story about the triumph of evil over good, the conquest of moral depravity over respectability, and good luck finding any Sanctuary anywhere, because all of the institutions that are supposed to provide protection from the evils depicted herein – modesty, courage, honor, honesty, love, faithfulness, religion, family, and the rule of law – have been corrupted.

Silly me! Who needs the traditional horrors of the gothic trope – ghosts, dungeons, mad monks – when the real world is full of so much more depravity? All I know is that Sanctuary may be the novel that puts me off of gothics forever. ( )
  Dorritt | Jul 21, 2017 |
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From beyond the screen of bushes which surrounded the spring, Popeye watched the man drinking.
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An assortment of perverse characters act out this dramatic story of the kidnapping a Mississippi debutante.

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