I've never read any Faulkner. I know nothing about his work except a vague notion that he's an American writer. 20 page sentences?? I won't be intimidated!
A lot of the challenge of the work comes from Faulkner's experimentation with the stream of consciousness writing style. Faulkner often plops you right into the middle of a story and introduces new characters left and right without any ceremony or explanation, as though you are the main character of the story and you've known these people all your life.
Further compounding the confusion for many is the frequent use of similar/same names for different characters... it's a longstanding tradition in the American South to name children after someone in your family, and so when you see references to someone like, say, Quentin Compson, that doesn't always refer to the Quentin that's the main character of Absalom
, but sometimes to an ancestor or descendant (and, because of the way Faulkner writes, that's only ever clear through context).Further
further compounding the confusion, Faulkner was a frustrated poet... he was never able to make much money doing that, and so turned to prose. But, you can absolutely feel the poet peeking out on every page, possibly no more so than in Absalom
. And that's when you start getting the long run-on sentences and, er, let's just say inconsistently used punctuation. Faulkner's work tends to be less about conveying a plot or even exploring a character so much as expounding on a scene, an occurrence, an image, a mood... his storytelling style is a lot like poetry in that way (or, in modern terms, akin to someone like David Lynch).
If it sounds like I'm trying to scare people off, I'm not... it's just my defense mechanism. Because I love the man's work so
dearly, and have heard it so
abused by people with narrow "art should be this
" points of view, I just know I'll be going on 20-page rants myself at the vaguest criticism of the work. But, if ever there was a group I trust not to be like that, it's this one, so I should just zip up.
PS: Ok, ok, Candide
isn't just for girls... it's also for these guys: