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Friday, 6 September 2013

"As I lay dying"

My 1st feeling when I have finished reading "As I lay dying" by William Faulkner is that I feel nothing, or perhaps within me is a mix of various, contradictory feelings at the same time and I'm unable to tell which is which and to distinguish them from each other. 
And of course one must feel overwhelmed. The book is 1st written in dialect. I generally don't like it. Before I had some trouble reading John Steinbeck and Mark Twain because of the language (and it's because of "The adventures of Tom Sawyer" that I began reading "The catcher in the rye" expecting to hate it, which didn't happen, but then that's another story). So with "As I lay dying" I had some trouble at the beginning. But dialect is not a huge obstacle. More difficult is the terrifying fact that the 59 chapters of this novel are divided among 15 narrators. You read it right. 15 narrators. So yes I got mixed up at 1st, and after a while, still got mixed up along the way. 
"As I lay dying" is not the kind of book one just reads from the beginning to the end, in 1 straight line. One keeps coming back. This detail isn't clear, I must go back and check. Ah this sentence seems to explain something that has appeared before, I must see that again. Oh this part describes the same thing from another point of view, I must turn back to compare. Etc. Etc. It's a book for one to reread. Reread in the 1st reading. And now, having finished the whole book I feel a need to reread all of it 1 more time. For some reasons. 
Now I'm a bit confused. Confused because I don't know exactly what to think of it- the novel is great, undoubtedly, it is intriguing and engrossing and great and deep and profound, and there's no question of William Faulkner's talent, but I'm a bit confused as to what to make of it. Lots of questions evolve around in my head at the moment. Who's the good guy, for instance. Darl or Jewel or Cash? Of course Anse isn't. That's as obvious as the sun. Vardaman's a kid. Dewey Dell we can come back to later, if possible. But the 3 guys? Cash is good. How about Darl and Jewel? 
Is Darl insane? 
No, I don't think so. He may appear insane, but it's because he has the power of perception no one else has in that family (and outside that family), because he's the only one who sees through everything and everyone, and such a guy can't stay in this world. He's labelled as insane but I think he isn't. 
(Darl, in his narrative, doesn't really explain his motives however). 
See how mixed up I am? 
Here are some sentences I particularly like: 
"In his face the blood goes in waves." (Darl) 

"Whitfield begins His voice is bigger than him. It's like they are not the same. It's like he is one, and his voice is one, swimming on 2 horses side by side across the ford and coming into the house, the mud-splashed one and the one that never even got wet, triumphant and sad." (Tull) 

"The women sing again. In the thick air it's like their voices come out of the air, flowing together and on in the sad, comforting tunes" (Tull) 

"My mother is a fish." (Vardaman) 
How could one write like that? But, you know what, stay away from William Faulkner if you're about to write an academic essay. He affects one's thinking and writing (at least, mine). 
I must clear my thoughts. I'm so mixed up. 

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