October Books 13) The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner

Maybe it’s a mistake to try reading stream-of-consciousness literature while on a transatlantic flight and over the subsequent days of jetlag (which has hit me much worse than usual on this trip), but I almost completely bounced off this book about a decaying family of the Old South (apart from the third of the four sections, the one narrated by the cynical and self-centred Jason).

In particular, the first section, whose narrator is the severely disabled Benjy, failed to ring true for me. It seemed to me to repeat the fatal problem of The Red Badge of Courage, in that the writer’s voice is far more sophisticated than his character’s thinking could possibly be. Very specifically, I observe from my own daughters that they are much more interested in their own emotional state than in observing what other people are saying or doing around them; Benjy, as portrayed by Faulkner, is completely the opposite, and I found that so contrary to my own experience that I could not engage with the story at all.

(I also didn’t really like the racism of his characters being displayed but not really interrogated, but I’m also reading Huckleberry Finn at the moment which is rather worse in that regard.)

One thought on “October Books 13) The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner

  1. Yes, I would let the candidates know you’ve had trouble contacting their referees and give them a timeframe for your decision, so they know they need to rustle up someone promptly.

    My usual assumption, when hiring, is that the candidates will have contacted their referees shortly before their applications are submitted, to check whether the referee is available and to let them know a little about the position. When I act as a referee for others, the hopeful candidate usually tells me what the position involves and reminds me of their relevant experience. Hence I would look less favorably on a candidate whose referees have changed address or are hard to contact.

    In fact, I rang my own referees up today as I was submitting a job application – not because I’m unhappy with my new job but because I’m trying to arrange a joint position between the university and the state government.

    The university job application required that I list my then-current supervisor as a referee, a request that caused me some anguish before I realised a workaround. I was genuinely worried that informing Hyperboss would cause unpleasant repercussions. There are plenty of reasons why listing a current boss would be a bad idea.

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