So, that's it. In spite of my thought I've read the appendix, and as I thought, one should not read it.
1st, the novel is perfect as it is and doesn't require an ending nor anything of the sort.
2nd, the appendix is meant to be the key to the book but it isn't necessary. Neither do I find it necessary to use coloured ink to represent different time sequences in the 1st section. "The sound and the fury" is undoubtedly difficult and challenging but not impossible to read (as long as one knows the key details I've mentioned), and the experience can be hugely rewarding.
3rd, the appendix was written 16 years after the book was published and there are discrepancies. Which means it not only doesn't clarify things but even confuses the readers more.
[Some such discrepancies are pointed out and discussed here]
4th, Faulkner seems to explain his characters because other people don't understand them. This is a problem because a, it's pointless; b, once a character comes alive, he's responsible for his own thoughts and emotions and actions and is no longer under the author's control (which is what Faulkner said himself); c, the author's intent is not as important as what's in the text; d, it's tasteless, a writer shouldn't attempt to explain his characters and e, to me the characters he describes in the appendix don't seem to have much in common with the characters I see in the novel.
Above all I oppose his attempt to clarify (and simplify) Quentin's conflicted feelings and relationship with Caddy (which is unsatisfying and inconsistent with the text).
Below is an essay by Philip Cohen that deals with pretty much all the problems I mentioned above. And some others.
"The Key to the Whole Book":
Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, the
Compson Appendix, and Textual
[reprinted in part from Texts and Textuality: Textual Instability,
Theory, Interpretation. Philip Cohen ed. New York: Garland, 1997.]
In 1929, William Faulkner published The Sound and the Fury, his example par excellence of modernist American fiction. Sixteen years later in 1945, he wrote what is known as his Compson Appendix for inclusion in Malcolm Cowley's Portable Faulkner, which Viking published in 1946. What had begun as a brief synopsis of the novel soon turned into a superb extended genealogy that referred to much of Faulkner's post-1929 work and reassured him that writing screenplays in Hollywood had not destroyed his talent.1 At the author's insistence, this discursive history of the Compson family also appeared at the front of Random House's 1946 Modern Library dual edition of The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying. Since that time, the Appendix has appeared, sometimes with Faulkner's approval, at the front or the back of various editions of the novel or been omitted altogether. Understandably, Faulkner scholars have been divided over whether the Appendix constitutes a part of the novel or a separate entity and over where, if at all, it ought to appear in an edition of The Sound and the Fury. That this debate has significant consequences is illustrated by the effect that the Appendix with its substantial if often unremarked differences from the 1929 text of the novel has had on criticism of The Sound and the Fury.2 My interest here is less in championing one of the authorized existing or possible texts of The Sound and the Fury than in discussing some of the consequences that the work's textual instability has had both for understanding it and for illustrating several theoretical concerns currently bedeviling editorial theory. . . . Faulkner's inclusion of the Appendix in the text of The Sound and the Fury re-contextualizes and so re-ontologizes, however intentionally or unintentionally, the novel, thus creating a new version or perhaps even a new and separate work. More simply put, the textual instability of The Sound and the Fury illustrates how an author can re-write a novel merely by framing an earlier version rather than re-writing it. . . . . In the mid-1940s, The Sound and the Fury, which originally had been met with good reviews but poor sales, was out of print like most of Faulkner's other works. In thrall to Hollywood during much of the decade, Faulkner quickly agreed to help Malcolm Cowley in 1944 when the latter proposed writing an essay on the former's fiction. As this collaboration led to their work on the Portable Faulkner, their correspondence grew in warmth although it also reveals the strains produced by the different conceptions and estimates the two men had of Faulkner's literary corpus. Consequently, James Meriwether has cautioned us not to take all of Faulkner's comments about the Appendix at face value ("Textual" 27).
Cowley planned to arrange the anthology selections chronologically to represent Yoknapatawpha County's evolution from the time of the Indians to World War II.3 The main problem Cowley noted, was what to include from The Sound and the Fury (FCF 23). While Faulkner's response was unequivocally positive, he too wanted the collection to contain an excerpt from The Sound and the Fury, preferably Jason's monologue. Although Cowley concurred that Jason's section was the one most capable of standing on its own, the two men settled on an excerpt from the final section preceded by a brief synopsis of the first three sections of the novel. Written by Faulkner, this note would tell "why and when . . . and how a 17 year old girl [Miss Quentin] robbed a bureau drawer of hoarded money and climbed down a drain pipe and ran off with a carnival pitchman" (SL 202). While it seems likely that Faulkner originally conceived of his Appendix as something akin to the brief genealogy and chronology he had produced nine years earlier for Absalom, Absalom! (1936), he soon surpassed that earlier effort.4 In early October of 1945, for example, he wrote Cowley that the synopsis should be "an induction, I think, not a mere directive" (SL 204). Faulkner subsequently wrote nearly thirty pages of Compson family history stretching back in time to 1699 and forward to 1943. He emphasized the 1929 novel's two generations of Compsons but also extended their stories beyond the earlier time limits. As he wrote, Faulkner invented new characters and events and drew on stories and novels he had written after 1929.
Faulkner triumphantly announced the Appendix's completion to Cowley in October of 1945: "I should have done this when I wrote the book. Then the whole thing would have fallen into pattern like a jigsaw puzzle when the magician's wand touched it" (SL 205). The Appendix was, he thought, "really pretty good, to stand as it is, as a piece without implications" (SL 205). By this time, it had clearly become more of an evaluative history of the Compson family than an introduction to the excerpt. Whatever else Faulkner was up to in writing the Appendix introducing an excerpt for Cowley's Portable, writing a new and separate fiction, responding to the unintentionally reductive and unflattering conception of his life's work implied by Cowley's design for the Portable his remarks suggest that he was also trying to explain what he often called his favorite novel yet one more time to a readership that originally had neither understood nor admired it.
Cowley admired the Appendix, but was puzzled by the various discrepancies between it and the 1929 Sound and Fury.5 He went so far as to send Faulkner a carbon of the Portable's excerpt from the novel to aid him in revising the Appendix (FCF 48, SL 209). The author probably ignored it, however, since he later told Cowley that he had no plans to eliminate the discrepancies between the Appendix and the novel.6 Cowley did not notice any of the more glaring differences between the 1929 novel and the Appendix. Confronting Jason with a color photograph of Caddy and a Nazi general on the French Riviera clipped from a slick magazine, librarian Melissa Meek suddenly realizes in the Appendix what Dilsey had intuited years earlier: that Jason was blackmailing Caddy into never returning to Jefferson and into "appointing him sole unchallengeable trustee of the money she would send for the child's maintenance" (ML 340). Although this alleged knowledge on Dilsey's part in the Appendix explains why Jason did not commit Benjy to an asylum until after his mother's death in 1933, I can find no evidence in the 1929 novel that Dilsey knows Jason may be blackmailing Caddy or that he is afraid of the Compson servant. In the Appendix, we also learn that he submits "annual reports . . . to the district Chancellor, as required of him as guardian and trustee by his bondsmen" (ML 344), but again no evidence of this appears in the 1929 novel. Regarding the aftermath of Miss Quentin's theft, moreover, the Appendix tells us that Jason
couldn't even report it; he could not only never receive justification . . . he couldn't even demand help in recovering it. Because he had lost four thousand dollars which did not belong to him, he couldn't even recover the three thousand. (ML 346-47)
Jason cannot report the theft, that is, because the first four thousand dollars sent by Caddy for Miss Quentin were "officially recorded as expended and consumed" (ML 347). He "couldn't even go to the police for help . . . he didn't dare pursue the girl himself because he might catch her and she would talk" (ML 347). In the 1929 novel, however, Jason does go to the sheriff and he does pursue Miss Quentin until he realizes the chase is futile.
Despite the occasional strained moment, Faulkner appeared genuinely pleased with the Portable when it appeared in April of 1946. He told his agent Harold Ober that "Malcolm Cowley has done a fine job in Spoonrivering my apocryphal county.... Be sure to see it" (SL 218), and in May he wrote Robert Haas, his publisher at Random House, that the volume pleased him very much (SL 234). True, Cowley and Faulkner were often at loggerheads as the novelist kept pressuring the editor to remove biographical information about Faulkner's military experience in World War I without telling him that it was inaccurate. Nor was Faulkner receptive to Cowley's notion that his work as a whole formed a symbolic parable about the rise and fall of the Old South's aristocratic planter class. Cowley's introduction describes Faulkner as an epic poet or bard in prose who invented "a Mississippi county that was like a mythical kingdom but was complete and living in all its details" and then made "his story of Yoknapatawpha County stand as a parable or legend of the Deep South" (2). "I'm inclined to think that my material, the South," he wrote Cowley in an oft-quoted letter, "is not very important to me. I just happen to know it, and dont [sic] have time in one life to learn another one and write it at the same time" (SL 185). Nonetheless, when Faulkner received an advance copy of the volume, he wrote Cowley jubilantly: "The job is splendid. Damn you to hell anyway" (SL 233).
Well before the Portable's appearance, Robert Linscott, Random House's new senior editor, requested an introduction from Faulkner for the forthcoming Modern Library dual edition of The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying. Meriwether has suggested that Faulkner's subsequent desire to include the Appendix at the front of the dual edition may have been an attempt to get out of writing an introduction ("Textual" 29). For better or worse, however, it was Faulkner himself who insisted in a February 6th letter that Linscott include the Appendix not as an introduction but as a new first section of the novel:
When you reprint THE SOUND AND THE FURY, I have a new section to go with it. I should have written this new section when I wrote the book itself.... By all means include this in the reprint. When you read it, you will see how it is the key to the whole book, and after reading it, the 4 sections as they stand now fall into clarity and place.... When you issue the book . . . print this Appendix first, and title it APPENDIX. . . . Then continue with the sections as they now are. . . . Be sure and print the Appendix first. (SL 220-21).
Faulkner also makes clear in the same letter that he did not consider the Appendix a substitute introduction: "I never read introductions either, and know little about them.... But I'll have to think about it, try to think up something" (SL 221). Although he never supplied Random House with an introduction, the dual edition with a paradoxical "New Appendix as a Foreword by the Author" appeared on December 20, 1946.
Faulkner's insistence that the Appendix appear as the first section of The Sound and the Fury in the new edition probably resulted, as Noel Polk claims, from his seeing the Appendix as making the novel more comprehensible and so more accessible to the reader (17-18). Indeed, his correspondence with Linscott indicates that he felt the genealogy could help counter the old charge of obscurity which had originally been levelled against the 1929 Sound and the Fury in general and against Benjy's section in particular:
As you will see, this Appendix is the key to the whole book; after reading this, any reader will understand all the other sections. That was the trouble before: the BENJY section, although the most obscure and troublesome one, had to come first because of chronology, the matter it told. (SL 228, also see SL 237)
For his part, Faulkner continued to insist that the Appendix was a crucial part of the novel. In 1955, he told Jean Stein that he wrote The Sound and the Fury ''five separate times trying to tell the story," (Lion 244) and that the 1929 novel was "not complete, not until 15 years after the book was published when I wrote as an Appendix to another book the final effort to get the story told and off my mind" (Lion 245).
As a result of Faulkner's steadily increasing popularity, the 1946 Modern Library text of The Sound and the Fury with the Appendix at the front was reprinted and reissued frequently from 1954 to 1961 under the inexpensive paperback Modern Library and Vintage imprints (Meriwether, "Textual," 31).7 At the same time, we must remember, that copies of Cape & Smith's 1929 Sound and the Fury and two more small printings issued in the wake of Sanctuary's notoriety in 1931 had become exceedingly rare. During the 1960s, the Appendix appeared at the back of several reissues of the novel and some omitted it entirely.8 The wheel came full circle when Polk omitted the Appendix from both his Random House corrected text of The Sound and the Fury in 1984 and his Vintage paperback of the same text in 1987. When David Minter reprinted this text in his 1987 and 1994 Norton Critical Editions of The Sound and the Fury, however, he included the Appendix in the "Backgrounds and Contexts" sections. Finally, Polk omitted the Appendix once more from a facsimile reprint of the 1984 text in a different format in a 1990 Vintage International volume, but included it accompanied by a brief explanatory note at the rear of another facsimile reprint, the 1992 Modern Library volume.
If the presence and position the Appendix in texts of The Sound and the Fury have varied, its contents have remained relatively stable. The piece situates Faulkner's commentary on the immediate Compson family within the context of a lengthy genealogy of the generations that preceded them. Its broad scope extends backwards in time to the arrival of the first dispossessed Scottish Compson in America: one Quentin MacLachan Compson, who fled with his claymore and tartan from Culloden Moor and Bonnie Prince Charlie's unsuccessful attempt at the English throne in 1745. It also takes the family's history past the 1929 novel's conclusion on Easter Sunday, 1928, to Caddy's liaison with a German staff general in occupied France during World War II. Jason Compson IV, we learn, established his own business, committed Benjy to the state asylum in Jackson as soon as his mother died in 1933, fired the black servants, and ultimately partitioned the Compson house into apartments before selling it to a buyer who converted it into a boarding house. Unlike the psychological and emotional immediacy and intensity of the 1929 novel's stream-of-consciousness monologues, the genealogy showcases Faulkner's labyrinthine late expository prose style as it explains and assesses events and character motivation in the book. While it covers much of the same ground as the 1929 Sound and the Fury, the Appendix tells us less about what Faulkner once thought as he toiled at his fourth published novel in 1928 than about the man and author he had since become in 1945. His attempt to explain the book to his readers was done from the vantage point of over fifteen years of hindsight. Indeed, the Appendix, as Mary Jane Dickerson argues, is intimately connected to Faulkner's symbolic genealogical narrative techniques in Absalom, Absalom, (1936) and Go Down, Moses (1942) whose families "are twisted and sterile'' and "finally unable to transcend the old sins" (327).
As with Faulkner's other great families, both high and low, the Compson record is one of shifty dealings, first to acquire Compson's Mile, the future site of Jefferson, from the Indians and then to found a line. The land becomes the Compson Domain now "fit to breed princes, statesmen and generals and bishops" to avenge earlier dispossessions ''from Culloden and Carolina and Kentucky" (ML 333). Just as Thomas Sutpen and Flem Snopes contain traces of each other, so the Compsons of the Appendix suggest a composite of Sutpen and Snopes. Jason Lycurgus Compson, Quentin's great-great grandfather, is no aristocratic cavalier from the school of moonlight and magnolia but rather a gambler, a sharper, and an opportunist. He wins races and goods and land from the Indian chief Ikkemotubbe with "a small. . . mare which could do the first two furlongs in definitely under the halfminute and the next two in not appreciably more, though that was all" (ML 332). By limiting these races "to a quarter or at most three furlongs," Quentin's great-great-grandfather rose rapidly in Snopes-like fashion to become the half partner of the Chickasaw Agency's store (ML 332). From such humble origins, the family's fortunes grow to include a governor and a Civil War general, but their grand dreams of founding a dynasty all come to nought. Decline sets in and accelerates with the novel's Mr. Compson, a failed alcoholic lawyer, and his four children. It is Mr. Compson who sells ''the last of the property, except that fragment containing the house and the kitchen-garden and the collapsing stables and one servant's cabin" for Caddy's wedding and Quentin's lone year at Harvard (ML 334). The family line itself ends with Jason IV, a childless bachelor.
The rise and fall of the House of Compson described in the Appendix is reminiscent of similar parabolic trajectories traversed by the fictional Sutpen and McCaslin families. Understandably, some readers of texts of The Sound and the Fury that include the Appendix have taken the novel to be a mythologized representation of Southern deterioration: the Compsons yield to the Snopeses who take over Jefferson, leaving only Jason to hold his own with them. If the 1929 Sound and the Fury concentrates on a single Southern family in disarray, the Appendix clearly mythologizes through the declining Compson family fortunes Faulkner's historical sense of the white man's sojourn in the South and perhaps in America as well. The Appendix opens with the murderous Ikkemotubbe, who is dispossessed by Jason Lycurgus Compson, and ends with some of the black servants from the novel who "endured" (ML 348), suggesting by synecdoche the Scotch and English migration to America bracketed by the dispossession of the Indians and by the heritage of the curse of slavery.
Given the circumstances surrounding the genesis of the Compson Appendix, it should come as no surprise that it and the 1929 Sound and the Fury contradict each other in ways far more significant than the minor discrepancies readers have heretofore noticed. The motivations of the novel's primary characters in the genealogy clash repeatedly with their previous dramatization in the 1929 novel. Moreover, the characters in the Appendix suffer various psychological simplifications even as they gain from the historical and social contexts Faulkner provides. After reading the Appendix, for example, Cowley recalls telling Faulkner that Jason seemed "altogether repellent and hateful" in the novel, whereas the genealogy portrayed him "as having a certain redeeming doggedness and logic" (FCF 421). Indeed, Faulkner's entry for Jason ironically stresses his inhuman sanity several times, calling him "The first sane Compson since before Culloden.... Logical rational contained and even a philosopher in the old stoic tradition" (ML 342-43).9 While Jason competes successfully with the Snopeses in the Appendix (ML 343), the 1929 Sound and the Fury depicts him as primarily motivated less by the inhuman and inhumane economic and materialist rationality of the Appendix than by the same irrational obsessions he shares with his two brothers. Throughout the 1929 novel, Jason generally remains unaware of his starved need for love and approval, his insecurities, his anxieties, and his resentment of his parents. More importantly, the disastrous failure of both Mr. and Mrs. Compson as parents is movingly dramatized in the 1929 novel, generating some small measure of sympathy for the young Jason as victim even though he becomes a monstrous victimizer as an adult. It is precisely this childhood that the Appendix elides in order to focus on its broader historical perspective. Recalling his father's funeral, Jason thinks in the 1929 novel how he "began to feel sort of funny'' (232) and then remembers standing by the newly-filled grave with Caddy after everyone else has gone home,
thinking about when we were little and one thing and another and I got to feeling funny again, kind of mad or something, thinking about now we'd have Uncle Maury around the house all the time. (233)
Neither the most introspective nor the most articulate of men, Jason "funny" feelings may be construed as angry resentment of his alcoholic father for abandoning him both as a child and as a young man. Nevertheless, the authorial sanction of the Appendix was such that later sane Jason was often used to gloss the earlier obsessed one. In an influential 1959 discussion which quotes from the 1946 Modern Library edition, for example, Olga Vickery notes that "Jason operates in terms of a logic which informs the basis of social communication" (31).
The addition of Jason's post-1928 history to the Appendix is as troubling as what Faulkner omits from the genealogy. In the Appendix, curiously enough, Jason rises in the world. In Caddy s entry, we learn about "the farmers' supply store where Jason IV had started as a clerk and where he now owned his own business as a buyer of and dealer in cotton" (ML 338). More startling is the revelation that he
used his own niggard savings out of his meagre wages as a storeclerk to send himself to a Memphis school where he learned to class and grade cotton, and so established his own business. (ML 343)
Thus Jason becomes relatively successful in business, rising from clerk to owner in a Horatio Alger narrative with Snopesian overtones: that is, he rises not only from greed and miserliness but from industriousness and application as well. But such an ascent seems implausible given Jason's character in the 1929 novel. The owner of the farmers' supply store where Jason works points out several times that Jason withdrew and spent the money his mother invested in the store to make him a partner. Rising by dint of his own strenuous efforts seems completely uncharacteristic of Jason whom the 1929 novel portrays as doing just about everything but putting in a hard day's work at the store. Rather he is obsessed with following, regulating, and reforming Miss Quentin; following his financial investments; and finding blank bank checks with which to continue deceiving his mother. Eventually' Jason's complex schemes all come to nought, concluding with his utter defeat on Easter Sunday at the hands of Miss Quentin. Such a portrait does not suggest a man capable of learning from his mistakes and experience, a man who could subsequently pull himself together, put himself through school, and become a successful businessman. Indeed, nothing in the 1929 novel suggests that Jason, as unaware and as conflicted as he is, can reform himself.
Although Faulkner believed that his attitude toward Benjy had not changed (SL 207), the Appendix's list of Benjy's three loves Ñ"the pasture. . . his sister Candace, firelight'' (ML 345)omits Caddy's worn slipper, a significant token that others use to soothe and comfort him in the 1929 novel. A fax more substantial discrepancy between Faulkner's two portraits of Benjy has gone unremarked: in describing Benjy's thwarted attack on the Burgess girl, the Appendix retreats from the 1929 Sound and the Fury's daring suggestions not only of rape but also of unrepressed incestuous desire for Caddy, the latter paralleling Quentin's more self-consciously conflicted feelings for his sister. Accustomed to sleeping with Caddy even after it became inappropriate and to regulating his sister's sexuality by bellowing whenever he detects the smell of perfume on her, Benjy's loss of Caddy opens up a profound absence that he is unable to articulate let alone accept. After her departure, he routinely follows returning schoolgirls along the Compson fence each day at twilight, thinking perhaps, as T. P. observed, "if he be down to the gate, Miss Caddy come back" (V 59). The climax of Benjy's assault in the 1929 novel is conveyed in language that is sexually suggestive albeit ambiguous:
the bright shapes were going again. They were going up the hill to where it fell away and I tried to cry. But when I breathed in, I couldn't breathe out again to cry, and try to keep from falling off the hill and I fell off the hill into the bright whirling shapes. (V 60-1)
Whether Benjy is experiencing an orgasm just as Mr. Burgess knocks him out or recalling how he was anesthetized before he was "gelded" as a result of this assault seems impossible to determine. Faulkner's language in the Appendix, however, simplifies Benjy's attempt, draining it of any incestuous implication or sexual menace:
following a fumbling abortive attempt by his idiot brother on a passing female child, [Jason] had himself appointed the idiot's guardian . . . and so was able to have the creature castrated before the mother even knew it was out of the house. (ML 344)
Faulkner himself seemed to set his own seal of approval on this retroactive process of simplification of the assault when he commented to Cowley that Benjy was "gelded by process of law . . . since the little girl he scared probably made a good story out of it when she got over being scared" (SL 207). Thus the Appendix simplifies and sanitizes the very scene that might help a reader connect Quentin's conscious idealizations of Caddy and his unconscious desire for her to similar if less repressed impulses in Benjy. Emphasizing Benjy's innocence and his role as moral arbiter, especially where Caddy's sexual behavior is concerned, is, of course, a recurrent gesture in criticism of The Sound and the Fury, and one, I suspect, that the Appendix has supported. Thus Melvin Backman in Faulkner: The Major Years (1966) draws his quotations from the 1946 Modern Library edition as he repeatedly stresses Benjy's innocence, sexual and otherwise (17, 33-4).
Faulkner simplified and sanitized not only Benjy in the Appendix but also his complex and innovative presentation of Quentin's divided self in the 1929 novel. Perhaps the best example of this diminution is Faulkner's insistence in the Appendix that Quentin "loved not his sister's body but some concept of Compson honor" and "not the idea of the incest which he would not commit, but some presbyterian concept of its eternal punishment" (ML 335). Curiously, the Appendix remains silent on Benjy's and Quentin's parallel inner conflicts in the 1929 novel between conscious asexual and puritanical idealizations of Caddy as a substitute-mother on the one hand, and more or less repressed Oedipal desires for her as substitute-mother on the other. That Quentin's unconscious veneration of chaste womanhood masks an obsessive misogyny and a disgust with sexuality learned from Mr. Compson "Women "have an affinity for evil for supplying whatever the evil lacks in itself" (V110) and are "so delicate so mysterious . . . Delicate equilibrium of periodical filth between two moons balanced" (V147) he tells his son and displayed in all its vitriolic harshness in Jason is a commonplace in recent discussions of the novel. Caddy's entry in the Appendix may refer to Quentin's perception of either her body or her maidenhead as "the foul instrument of [the family honor's] disgrace" (ML 336), but the genealogy as a whole elides the 1929 novel's emphasis on male Compson misogyny just as it evinces little or no interest in the unconscious desires of its characters. In describing Quentin as someone "who loved death above all who loved only death, loved, and lived in a deliberate and almost perverted anticipation of death" the Appendix strikingly ignores both his unconscious motivation and his tangled familial relationships in the 1929 Sound and the Fury (ML 335-36). Faulkner's eloquent thumbnail sketch of Quentin in the Appendix simply does not do justice to the richness of his earlier characterization. Although Faulkner may not have been deliberately closing off the dangerous pathways that he had explored earlier, the Appendix represents a deeply conservative re-reading or re-imagining of the 1929 Sound and the Fury.10
Faulkner's extensive commits on Quentin in the Appendix clearly had an impact upon critical discussion of the latter's motivation. Thus Vickery cites Faulkner on Quentin before writing that "Insofar as virginity is a concept, associated with virtue and honor, it becomes the center of Quentin's world" (37), and Dorothy Tuck refers to the same entry while arguing that Quentin makes "Caddy the repository of the Compson family honor,' rather than the object of his incestuous desires (27). Richard Chase too notes that Quentin's incestuous fantasies represent only his desire to remove Caddy and himself "to a transcendent realm", and to immolate ''their gross natural existence'' ( 229). Faulkner's new conception of Quentin's character in the Appendix affected readers who used the 1946 dual edition such as Frederick Hoffman who approvingly echoes Faulkner when he underscores Quentin's desire to rescue the family's "'honor' by arresting time and thus force decay out of the Compson world. He is in love with stasis, represented . . . by Caddy's virginity, and eventually by death itself" (54-55). In his influential portrayal of Quentin as an incestuously chaste lover, Cleanth Brooks as well owes a significant debt to Faulkner's Appendix: "Quentin is not really in love with his sister's body, only in love with a notion of virginity that he associates with her" and ultimately "with death itself" (327).11
Significantly, critics pursuing psychological readings of the novel that stress Quentin's incestuous desire for his sister have felt constrained to interrogate relentlessly the Appendixes authority. Thus as early as 1954, Carvel Collins cautioned readers that Faulkner's ''confusing" Appendix must not mislead them "into thinking that the feeling between Quentin and his sister Candace is entirely on some high moral or philosophical plane above the incestuous much as Quentin tries to put it there" (75).
In the essay in which this warning appeared, Collins was engaged in disputing the socio-historical view of the 1929 novel propounded by Cowley and his heirs and in setting forth his own ground-breaking psychoanalytical reading of Benjy, Quentin, and Jason as symbolic representations of Freud's id, ego, and superego. In discussing how Faulkner's "unrepressed and even undisguised" misogyny (109) manifests itself in the disturbing and forbidden incestuous games of some of his male characters, Albert Guerard too has questioned whether or not the 1929 novel bears out the Appendixes concern with Quentin's sense of honor: "His deepest concern would seem to be her loss of virginity per se rather than the loss of family honor" (118).
Like her siblings, Caddy also seems to have been reconceived somewhat in the Appendix. Faulkner writes movingly in Quentin's envy that she
loved her brother despite him, loved not only him but loved in him that bitter prophet and inflexible corruptless judge of what he considered the family's honor and its doom, as he thought he loved but really hated in her what he considered the frail doomed vessel of its pride and the foul instrument of its disgrace; not only this, she loved him not only in spite of but because of the fact that he himself was incapable of love. (ML336)
The emphasis here on Quentin's obsession with honor downplays his incestuous desire for her, a generally unconscious motivation that nevertheless permeates every aspect of his monologue. The passage raises other questions as well. Does the Caddy of the 1929 Sound and the Fury really love Quentin because he cannot love anyone? Does she really love masochistically ''that bitter prophet and inflexible corruptless judge," or does she love and pity him as a brother and as a quasi-son? The passage seems impossible to reconcile with the Caddy of the 1929 novel who is tormented and torn by the obsessive, life-denying demands and desires of her three brothers. Together as strict monitors of her sexual behavior, Quentin and Benjy make Caddy's life impossible before she leaves home, and Jason takes over this function after she brings Miss Quentin back to Jefferson. While Caddy voices her resentment as well as pity over Quentin and Benjy's interventions on several occasions, the novel presents absolutely no evidence that she "loves" Quentin's constant puritanical interference.12
. . . .
With its significant differences from the 1929 Sound and the Fury, the Appendix provides a splendid example of how a later authorially-produced frame can help re-contextualize a literary work, leading some readers to overlook or even smooth some of the particularly egregious conflicts between the initial text and its subsequent frame. Indeed, the version of the text consulted in conjunction with the interpretive paradigm employed has often helped shade various premises, emphases, and conclusions concerning the novel.
. . . .
Such an actual web of inextricably interconnected texts, both published and unpublished, suggests a notion of textuality at odds with the stable, fixed, impermeable conception that underlies modern eclectic editing. Like some textual scholars in the 1980s, Paul Eggert has proposed alternatively that
relationships within and between the author's writings form. . . an authorial intertextuality, a continuum of authorship, itself part of a larger biographical flux that takes its shape in response to the pressures of . . . social, cultural, and other environments. (66)13
It is thus only in the context of a particular theoretical framework or of particular commercial and scholarly publishing arrangements that we can think of published works as discrete entities.
None of Polk's editions of The Sound and the Fury for Random House are complete scholarly editions, of course, nor were they meant to be. They are texts prepared in a scholarly fashion by a scrupulous editor for a commercial publisher who may have been reluctant to include even the editor's short list of editorial notes. Combining Polk's edited text with his 1985 Editorial Handbook to the novel, however, will yield much of what a modern Anglo-American scholarly edition normally contains: a text accurately and consistently constructed according to an explicitly stated set of assumptions and procedures, textual and historical notes, tables of the variants derived from the collations, and a list of all emendations to the text accompanied by explanations. Polk's reluctance to include the Appendix in either the Handbook or some recent editions of The Sound and the Fury may also have been influenced by the earlier ahistorical reliance on it as an authorial vade mecum to the 1929 Sound and the Fury, a reliance that pre-supposed a stable and unified intention on Faulkner's part that survived the years separating the composition of the novel and the Appendix. While unity was a significant aesthetic criterion of modernist literature and criticism, however, postmodern readers are more likely to postulate Faulkner's intentions as unstable, conflicted, and possibly non-recuperable.
After detailing some of the consequences of the numerous clashes between the 1929 Sound and the Fury and the Appendix, it may seem paradoxical for me to be troubled by Polk's banishment of the genealogy not only from his most widely accessible paperback editions of the novel but also from his editorial handbook. The exigencies of commercial publishing and his decision to exclude the Appendix from these editions, however, combine to obscure the process of The Sound and the Fury's textual production. At best, I would have preferred the Appendix to appear in Polk's first three edited texts of the novel and the Handbook, possibly set off with the type of qualifying introduction for the unwary reader that he includes in his 1992 Modern Library text. Including the piece would more easily enable scholars with other editorial or theoretical assumptions about literary texts and works to construct possible alternative texts of The Sound and the Fury.
One such alternative conception of textuality, for example, supplants the spatial metaphor with a temporal one, arguing that the authorially sanctioned appearance of the Appendix at the front and back of different editions of The Sound and the Fury created new and more conflicted authorial versions of the novel. Replacing singularity with multiplicity as a governing premise results thus in a work in progress, a dynamic series of inter-related and equally valid versions. Emphasizing inter-related versions and the temporal dimension of textual reproduction and developing apparatuses to represent this dimension is a significant feature of much of the rethinking of the editorial function in the decade that followed the publication of Polk's edition of The Sound and the Fury in 1984. As Hans Walter Gabler writes in "Unsought Encounters," these premises are central to contemporary German editorial scholarship with its structuralist conception of the literary text:
Superseded and superseding readings each stand in a relational context, and every antecedent text, just as every succeeding text, is to be regarded as a structural system of language. If these texts are successive synchronic structures, the work as a whole appears diachronically structured as a succession of such synchronic texts. (155-56)
This approach rejects stabilizing textual variation in the form of a single critical text by using the criterion of conscious authorial intention because the editor is no longer "the author's executor, but the historian of the text" (Gabler, "Textual Studies" 159). Such a conception of textuality argues that it is simply impossible to predict all the consequences a partied revision or group of revisions may have for a work. Thus the problem with the chronological breadth of the Appendix in later versions of The Sound and the Fury is not that it often caused readers to foreground Southern socio-historical decline, but that they retroactively projected this interest onto the 1929 Sound and the Fury with its ostensible emphasis on the disastrous consequences of a dysfunctional Freudian family romance. The Sound and the Fury such readers are examining is quite simply a late rather than early textual version of the work.
The distance between Polk's conception of the text and Gabler's delimits the broad range of choices that now confront an editor of The Sound and the Fury. Intentionalist Hershel Parker would use a notion of the determinate nature of the captive process to champion some early version of the text and thus avoid the sort of anomalous consequences that even the most deliberate authorial revisions of an original text might produce. Practitioners of French critique génétique and German textual criticism would present in an integral or synoptic apparatus much like Gabler's edition of Ulysses the transmissional record of The Sound and the Fury purged of indubitable errors. Using Peter Shillingsburg's arguments in Scholarly Editing in the Computer Age, another possibility would be a historical edition that prints one historical text of the novel with only transmissional corruptions corrected and displays in appendices the development of the authoritative authorial texts of The Sound and the Fury through their variants (42). At the 1989 Society for the Study of Textual Scholarship, Jerome McGann even suggested publishing multiple historical rather than authorial versions of a text as a practical consequence of the social contract theory of textual criticism he enunciated in A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism.
As a Faulkner scholar, I have become less interested over the years in determining the text of a Faulkner work than in paying attention to all of the authorial textual versions of that work and their various relationships. Thus the task of a scholarly editor of The Sound and the Fury, for me, is to providers many textual versions of the work as possible, with variants and their causes identified, so that readers may select or conflate or compile textual versions according to their own theoretical lights. Until electronic archives and editions become the scholarly norm, however, the economic realities of scholarly publishing ensure that one version will be presented, accompanied by tables of the relevant variants. The textual history of Faulkner's novel, suggests that editorial operations upon the historical reality of textual instability are interpretive acts that often implicitly and explicitly privilege one sort of textual orientation over others. These contests over the nature of text and work, as the case of The Sound and the Fury demonstrates, may and often do shape the parameters of interpretation. If we concede that there is no universal theory of textuality, then we cannot erase previous versions of Faulkner's novel, both commercial and scholarly, by omitting the Appendix. To do so is to make a part of the novel's literary and critical history more inaccessible in the name of a universal theory of textuality that may be little more than a chimera.
My thanks to both Phillip Doss and Noel Polk for reading a draft of this essay and providing a number of invaluable suggestions.
1. Blotner, Selected Letters of William Faulkner, 205. Hereafter cited parenthetically as "SL."
2. The question of the Appendix is only one of several intractable problems that face editors of The Sound and the Fury, problems that become more pressing when one notes that Faulkner was a Modernist writer in nothing so much as in his attempt to shape expressively his novel's punctuation, typography, and layout. In this respect, he resembles many of his peers who sought to poeticize prose by exploiting the full expressive potential of the print medium. Although the manuscript and carbon typescript for the first edition of The Sound and the Fury (1929) survive, the setting copy and galleys that would help document the extensive copyediting of the novel do not. Noel Polk discusses the various issues involved in editing the novel in the introduction to his Editorial Handbook for William Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury'' (1-22).
3. Cowley, Faulkner-Cowley File, 21-22. Hereafter cited parenthetically as "FCF."
4. Within a year of Absalom's publication, Faulkner also offered to produce but never wrote "a chronology and genealogy and explanation, etc." for Maurice Coindreau who was translating The Sound and the Fury into French (SL 99).
5. While Jason kept his strongbox under aboard in his clothes closet in the 1929 novel, for example, the Appendix locates it in a locked bureau drawer. In the 1929 novel, Miss Dentin escapes from her locked room by climbing down a pear tree, but the tree is replaced by a rainpipe in the Appendix (PCF 41-2). Cowley also observed that the 1929 novel suggests Miss Quentin stole $3000 from Jason while the Appendix asserts she stole $4000 that Jason had diverted from Caddy's support payments plus $2840.50 of his own savings. The passages Cowley refers to are on p. 352 of Polk's 1987 Vintage edition of the 1929 novel and on pp. 344, 346 of his 1992 Modern Library edition of the 1929 novel and the Appendix. Unless otherwise stated, quotations from the 1929 Sound and the Fury and from the Appendix are from these two editions.
6. In February of 1946, Faulkner wrote Cowley that he wanted
the Appendix [to] stand with inconsistencies, perhaps make a statement . . . viz: the inconsistencies in the Appendix prove that to me the book is still alive after 15 years, and being still alive is still growing, changing. (SL 222)
Although Faulkner went on to revise the Appendix somewhat for Random House's Modern Library dual edition of The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, his elaborate plea for respecting the evolutionary nature of his creative imagination may strike one as special pleading, as a plausible rationale to disguise his unwillingness to re-read the novel. Thirteen years later, Faulkner employed similar language in his author's note for The Mansion to justify his refusal to eliminate the discrepancies between The Hamlet, The Town, and the last volume of the Snopes trilogy.
7. The text of the 1946 Modern Library edition was first reprinted as a Modern Library paperback in 1954 and first published as a Vintage paperback in 1961. The 1946 Modern Library text forms the basis for the text in Random House's Faulkner Reader (1954) and for the 1959 New American Library Signet edition of the novel. The Appendix appears at the end of the novel in both the 1954 Reader and its reprint in the Modern Library but is located at the front of the 1959 New American Library Signet edition. Most of the relevant bibliographical information on The Sound and the Fury may be found in Meriwether's "Textual History"; "The Books of William Faulkner," p. 419; and "The Books of William Faulkner," pp. 268-69.
8. In 1962, Vintage reissued the novel's 1929 text in paper with "Appendix: Compson: 1699-1945" at the back of the volume (Polk 18). In 1966, a Modern Library reissue of the 1946 text also positioned the Appendix at the novel's rear, while Random House reissued the 1929 text of The Sound and the Fury without it. The next year saw the 1929 text reissued as a "Modern Library College Edition" in paperback with the Appendix once again at the rear.
9. Jason is also called Miss Quentin's "last remaining sane male relative" (ML 335) and "a sane man always" (ML 344).
10. Alternatively, Dawn Trouard has recently examined the "discrepancies and ruptures" (25) in the 1929 novel's representation of Caddy and the other Compson women, and argued that the Appendix continues to present in the persons of Melissa Meek and Caddy "a [feminist] model of the caring possibilities yet to be realized" (57). Similarly, Susan Donaldson has contended that the Compson Appendix is Faulkner's self-reflexive critique of "the [patriarchal] structures of narrative, authority, and gender defining" the 1929 Sound and the Fury (27-8).
11. Brooks's discussion of the novel in William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Country (1963) draws its quotations from the 1946 Modern Library edition.
12. Readers of Faulkner's entry for Caddy may also be puzzled by the absence of any mention of her intense love for Dalton Ames during the summer of 1909, a central episode in the 1929 Sound and the Fury.
13. In his contribution to this volume, Professor Eggert discusses D. H. Lawrence's Twilight in Italy in relation to this notion of authorial intertextuality.