The essays in this book are designed to inform, orient, and expand the reader’s experience of and engagement with William Faulkner’s fourth novel and major work, The Sound and the Fury.
When William Faulkner published The Sound and the Fury in 1929 he presented the world with one of the greatest novels of all time and a foremost example of Modernist art. Even as it explores life in the United States South, this novel delves deeply into individual psychology via literary techniques that strain representation to its very limits.
The essays investigate such topics as the environment, war, and industrialism in The Sound and the Fury while offering fascinating explorations of time, the instability of meaning, and secrets of miscegenation. Among the contributors are such established and celebrated scholars as Cheryl Lester, Theresa Towner, and Joseph R. Urgo as well as an international cast of important emerging critics such as John B. Padgett, Christopher Rieger, Caroline S. Miles, Sarah Robertson, and Frédérique Spill.
Each Critical Insights is divided into four sections:
An Introduction – The book and the author
This volume opens with a number of contextual pieces, starting with a general statement on The Sound and the Fury by the editor, which provides an overview of its composition history, its major themes, its adaptations, and observations on strategies for reading its difficult pages. This is followed by a brief biography.
This section consists of four essays that provide more specific critical context to the featured title. David Hein's chapter helps those seeking to understand the novel's historical context by considering the religious background. The second essay helps those seeking to understand the history of the critical reception of the novel by offering an insightful guide to the responses of professional critics for The Sound and the Fury. Christopher Rieger's essay aims to view the title through a critical lens, showing how nature is sometimes feminized and eroticized and from which the Compson brothers are estranged. The final essay in this section, by Gretchen Martin, provides a reading of The Sound and the Fury in the context of another of Faulkner's work, Absalom, Absalom!.
The remaining essays offer a kaleidoscope of critical readings, beginning with two essays that delve into the problematics of narrative in the text. The next two essays focus on the material by narrowing in on the function of money and the financial in the novel. In yet another intriguing duo, the essays by Sarah Robertson and Ren Denton explore secrets of race and sex in Faulkner’s novel. The final three essays employ critical approaches of the most unique nature: a reading of the novel in the context of two wars; through the lens of the emerging field of fat studies; and a reading of Quentin Compson as a character who is representative of Faulkner's ideas about schooling and student life.
Each essay is 2,500-5,000 words in length and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes.
- Chronology of William Faulkner's Life
- Works by William Faulkner
- About the Editor