Food for thought, Jonathan Yardley on William Faulkner:
In all of American literature there is nothing — absolutely nothing — to compare with the life’s work of William Faulkner. From beginning to end his achievement is at an extraordinarily high level, sustained over nearly four decades, leaving us a half dozen indisputable masterpieces — “The Sound and the Fury,” “As I Lay Dying,” “Light in August,” “Absalom, Absalom!,” “The Hamlet,” “Go Down, Moses” — as well as many other books of singular merit. Simply and incontrovertibly, Faulkner stands alone . . . Yet for many other readers Faulkner remains an Everest too steep and craggy to climb. His dense, at times overwrought prose; his exceedingly complex plots; the intertwined genealogies that connect his books to each other; the sheer immensity of his oeuvre — these and other challenges scare people away. What a terrible pity this is, for the riches his work yields are immeasurable, not merely its searching exploration of the great themes of Southern history — slavery, defeat, the burden of the past — but also the astonishing humor, what Cowley called “a sort of homely and sober-sided frontier humor that is seldom achieved in contemporary writing.”
I hope to tackle Faulkner this year, but I will admit to being somewhat intimidated.
This article encourages me to read Faulkner, but I’m not really looking forward to it. If he had said he was as good as Tolstoy, then I might be more enthused.
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