The Sound and the Fury was first published in 1929 and is considered to be one of the most important novels of the 20th century. The book follows the Comptons, an Aristocratic southern American family, struggling to deal with their poor reputation and the breakdown of their family.
The first section is narrated by a mentally disabled man called Benjy. I finished these 72 pages without having much idea of what had happened. The disorienting world of someone who doesn’t fully understand what is happening was made even more confusing by a stream of consciousness writing style.
I sought out a summary of the chapter on wikipedia and this helped a lot – especially learning that anything written in italics is a flashback. I re-read the chapter, trying to seek out all the points mentioned on wikipedia, but I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t have noticed some of the plot points without a guide to help.
The second section, narrated by Benjy’s older brother, was easier to understand, but not much!! Again I had to rely on wikipedia and re-reading to pick up many of the plot points. I continued the rest of the book having read the wikipedia summaries in advance. It was hard work! I also discovered Spark Notes, which gave me an even greater insight into the book.
The problem that I find with books like this is that the effort it takes to simply understand what is happening removes any chance to form an emotional connection to the characters. The plot wasn’t that exciting and so I didn’t feel as though the effort I put in was rewarded.
I’m sure that you can derive a lot of pleasure from studying this book, but I’m afraid that I prefer to read books rather than tease out the meanings from individual paragraphs.
Highly recommended to people who enjoy studying literature.
Have you read The Sound and the Fury?