Reading Faulkner from Start to Finish

Blue sky. The air is calm and cool. Early signs of autumn. Went cycling along the Cardiff Bay barrage and feel better for the effort. Just thirty minutes of exercise resonates for the entire day. After breakfast Jennifer and I headed to our shared office at Cardiff University; we have just over a week remaining on our contracts, so are gradually moving our few belongings back to our apartment. Since we do not own a car, we do it in piecemeal fashion, a few objects at a time.

Currently reading

William Faulkner, Novels 1926-1929 (Library of America)
William Faulkner, Novels 1926-1929 (The Library of America)

On my bedside table is the first volume of the collected novels of William Faulkner, published by The Library of America. Since giving away over two thirds of my book collection, I decided that I would keep only those volumes of lasting value and durability. Since Faulkner has been of interest to me for a long time, I thought I would begin at the beginning and work my way steadily through his entire works. (I have similar plans for Flannery O’Connor, but I will write about that some other day.) One of the benefits of the LOA editions is that they are printed to last a lifetime, and each book includes several novels. I have recently begun Soldiers’ Pay, an energetic debut novel with a clear debt to Joyce, and aim to proceed through Mosquitoes (a satire of 1920s bohemia), Flags in the Dust (a novel that originally appeared in a heavily edited edition under the title Sartoris in 1929), and, wait for it, The Sound and the Fury, which crowns the first volume.

William Faulkner’s Novels 1926-1929 is available from The Library of America.

Other reading

  • Frida Kahlo‘s personal letter to Georgia O’Keeffe
  • Praising David Cronenberg’s adaptation of William S. Burroughs‘ Naked Lunch on its 25th anniversary
  • Asymptote publishes excerpts from Walking with Robert Walser
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  1. I’m really interested to see how you get along with this. I set out to do it a few years ago, but only with the Yoknapatawpha novels, and I didn’t finish. I think I managed eight or nine in a row and then maxed out my stamina. Would love to get back to him one day, though. I also recall reading a really detailed, interesting article on Faulkner’s writing practices throughout his career: ie. the ways in which he tried to maintain continuity and expand on the cultures of Jefferson and Yoknapatawpha County while producing his oeuvre, without having any clear ideas when he set sail with those first few novels. It’s called “First Is Jefferson: Faulkner Shapes His Domain” and it’s by Thomas L. McHaney, if you’re curious.

    • Hi Daniel!

      Thank you for your comment, and for the recommendation. I have decided that I will be reading Faulkner with many, many breaks in the road, and come back to his novels over a long period of time. So, we’ll see how it works out! I’m fascinated by his construction of space, landscape, and community, so the McHaney book sounds right up my street!

      Wishing you all the best on your own Faulkner adventures.

      Best,
      Rhys

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