Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Back to Faulkner

It's been sort of interesting to be back in a part of the reading list where I actually can get through a book in a couple of days and make some significant progress.  I should be able to make quite a bit of headway into the list (and even clear out some books from the shelves) over the next month or so.  There are two roadblocks in the way, however.  Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and the massive Modernist masterpiece that is Dos Passo's USA Trilogy.  I don't mean to complain about this.  These are books I've wanted to or planned to read for a very long time, and I've finally come to them.  But it will take a while to go through them.

After a quick glance, it looks as though As I Lay Dying will be slightly easier going than The Sound and the Fury (not that that is saying much) but nowhere near the easy-going romp that was The Reivers.  It's possible that in the end The Reivers will be my favorite Faulkner.

When I am done with As I Lay Dying (probably by the weekend), I will have read all the novels in the Summer of Faulkner boxset that Oprah promoted back in 2005.  (Given that there were many copies of the set floating around afterwards, I picked one up for about $5 in 2011 -- one of the last purchases I made before the transition from Amazon.com to Amazon.ca.)  For all the flak Oprah often got for her bookclub, she did promote some incredible literature, and, while I probably won't use the archived resources, some people did find it very helpful to go through key early Faulkner with Oprah's support group.  After all, I had professors to help guide me through Absalom, Absalom! and The Sound and the Fury.

I'm actually sort of gearing up for a second run through those two novels and I've tentatively slated late 2016 for an attempt at his Snopes Trilogy (The Hamlet, The Town, The Mansion).  After this, I will have a few novels left to go and a huge stack of stories.  (Indeed, at one point I owned The Collected Stories of William Faulkner and probably The Uncollected Stories as well.  I may purchase them again, but only if I actually free up enough space on the shelves.)

Curiously enough, it looks as though if one wanted to follow the Yoknapatawpha County saga from start to finish, one should read them in a dramatically different order (than publication order).  Wikipedia suggests the best way through here.  I have to say, this looks like an interesting challenge, but one I would defer for many years.  I think I'll stick to the somewhat random order I am using.

However, it is probably worth tracking my progress through Faulkner.  I'll be over 25% done with his novels by next week.  That's not too shabby, though not nearly as accomplished as I would like.  After I get through my Toronto reading list, I will be over 80%, which is more like it.

Anyway, here is the official list (which only includes novels and short stories published in stand-alone volumes by Faulker).

Soldiers' Pay (1926)
Mosquitoes (1927)
Sartoris/Flags in the Dust (1929/1973)
R2O The Sound and the Fury (1929)
RO As I Lay Dying (1930)
Sanctuary (1931)
RO Light in August (1932)
Pylon (1935)
R2O Absalom, Absalom! (1936)
O The Unvanquished (1938)
O The Wild Palms (aka If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem) (1939)
O The Hamlet (1940)
RO Go Down, Moses (1942)
RO Intruder in the Dust (1948)
O Requiem for a Nun (1951)
O A Fable (1954)
O The Town (1957)
O The Mansion (1959)
RO The Reivers (1962)


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