The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury

Book - 1992
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Random House, Inc.

Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time

From the Modern Library’s new set of beautifully repackaged hardcover classics by William Faulkner—also available are Snopes, As I Lay Dying, Light in August, Absalom, Absalom!, and Selected Short Stories

The Sound and the Fury, first published in 1929, is perhaps William Faulkner’s greatest book. It was immediately praised for its innovative narrative technique, and comparisons were made with Joyce and Dostoyevsky, but it did not receive popular acclaim until the late forties, shortly before Faulkner received the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The novel reveals the story of the disintegration of the Compson family, doomed inhabitants of Faulkner’s mythical Yoknapatawpha County, through the interior monologues of the idiot Benjy and his brothers, Quentin and Jason. Featuring a new Foreword by Marilynne Robinson, this edition follows the text corrected in 1984 by Faulkner expert Noel Polk and corresponds as closely as possible to the author’s original intentions. Included also is the Appendix that Faulkner wrote for The Portable Faulkner in 1946, which he called the “key to the whole book.”

Baker & Taylor
Depicts the troubled childhood of Jason, Quentin, Caddy, and Benjy Compson, members of a southern family.

Publisher: New York : Modern Library, 1992
Edition: Modern Library edition
ISBN: 9780679600176
Branch Call Number: FICTION FAULK...W
Characteristics: ix, 348 pages ; 20 cm
Notes: Series statement from jacket
"The corrected text with Faulkner's appendix."


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Aug 27, 2018

I attempted Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury once before, and again recently before calling it quits. The arguments for this novel and its stream-of-consciousness narrative style, which I learned was relatively new at the time of its publication, remind me of classical music and its transition to the romantic era of the 19th century and eventually to what is known as "20th century music." And here I'm not talking about popular genres like ragtime and jazz and what would eventually become rock n' roll. I'm talking about what classical music evolved into. I had a college professor once refer to this genre of 20th century music as "intellectual exercises" and I think he was being kind.

This is what I think of when I try to read books like The Sound and the Fury—they were well-regarded, successful attempts to push the boundaries of a genre but the side effect is it has become a niche product for a niche group. Also, and I'm only being somewhat flippant here, it's a go-to for torturing high school and college students.

Apr 24, 2017

The most challenging book I've ever read. I was so frustrated at times that I nearly gave up when I was more than half way through.

I believe you would have to read this book multiple times to truly appreciate it , but in the end, it is worthy of its place in the pantheon of literature.

Nov 10, 2016

My very first read by Faulkner.
Part 1 had made me feel dumber than Benjy. I was too lost to continue the book right away. But when I reread it at the end as a wrap up, I feel as brilliant as Benjy.

Part 2 was my favorite at the time, but now, with better grasp of the timeline and family relations, I'm more bewildered (and obsessed) by cause and fate of Quentin.

How come there is no chapter for Caddy's inner voice, while all male siblings each got one? I couldn't love her so much as Benjy does.

Dilsey doesn't deserve her own thinking-out-loud, but a 3rd person narrative? She is the most dignified beautiful person in the book!

Mar 16, 2015

deserves it's place as a classic of American literature

Nov 04, 2012

William Faulkner displays his true gift in his most renowned novel, “The Sound and the Fury”. What his “true gift” is, is his ability to analyze his character, to the point where he can write as if he was that person. The novel depicts the Compson family, a family living in the South (where all Faulkner novels take place). Over the thirty years the novel shows, we witness their gradual fall from grace. Faulkner divides the various time allotment into separate narrators who share the events of the Compson family through their point of view. The essential characters of the novel consists of: Jason Compson, the father of the family; he also happens to be an alcoholic, which makes matters more complicated. His wife Caroline, is both self-obsessed and darkly neurotic. We meet their oldest son, Quentin, who suffers from the abuse of his brother and his obsession with his sister. His sister is Caddy, who seems to be the least affected of her family’s dysfunction. Their other son, is named Jason. He is bitter and cold, racist, bankrupt and experiencing sexaul difficulties. All in all, he’s the most pathetic of the Compson family. Finally, the final son is name named Benjy. He is a man-child who desperately requires the assistance of most of the rest of his family. They mostly don’t have the patience for him, with the sole exception of his more caring sister, Caddy. Faulkner once wrote that he believed Caddy was the only sympathetic character in the novel, and by the logic; the hero. You’d think Faulkner had lived through this family because of how well he seems to understand the character and family dynamics. You can see how each action affects the lives of the other characters and how it brings them to do other actions, which continues the cycle. It’s a great example of why many consider Faulkner to be the greatest American novelist. But the difficulties and tragedies that arise in “The Sound in the Fury” do not constantly revolve around the characters within the family. As I mentioned earlier, Faulkner’s novels almost always are set within the south, because he always believed there were large problems with the treatment of African-Americans and it was not easy to survive there. We see a through glance into both problems with “The Sound and the Fury”. Dilsey is the name of the African-American maid working for the Compson family. Some of the members of the household treat her with common decency while others see her as less than a human being. It’s an excellent depiction of the mistreatment of blacks in the South during the 1920s. As well, the Compson family struggles to stay financially afloat. Every subject Faulkner touches on is clearly one that was dear to him in his heart. It all feels extremely sincere and for that reason, it is among the greatest novels ever written.

WGTaylor Aug 21, 2012

I agree with all these comments, but would add that it's a book that stays with you.

Twenty (twenty-five?) years later, I do remember not knowing what was going in a lot of the time, but I also remember being enthralled all the time.

GIven this fact, I have to rate it an extraordiary and powerful book.

Jun 04, 2012

A difficult read. Faulkner wants you to work for it, and if you do, it pays off - kind of. I didn't love it, but I am glad that I read it. There are definitely some powerfully written moments. The problem is that I often didn't even know what was going on, and that is where Faulkner loses me.

Apr 24, 2012

Being inside Quentin Compson's head as he takes his final walk before committing suicide is one of the most powerful and sad experiences in all of literature. Difficult? Sure. It makes necessary demands on its readers, but its rewards for the effort are many.

Jan 19, 2012

According to the introduction, this is a book that no normal person would be able to fully, or even partially, understand on the first reading. I can't imagine many people even making it all the way through the first reading, I certainly didn't. I'm sure it's a great and important 19th century piece of American literature, but the pages long stream-of-consciousness style Faulkner used became incomprehensible and very tiring to read. The blurb on the back of the book makes the plot sound interesting, but the stream-of-consciousness style in the second "chapter" along with the strange back and forth "time travel" between different unnamed times made it almost impossible to follow, I was just reading the words, not comprehending the story. I have taken his other works off my list of books to read.

Oct 01, 2011

This novel is the most difficult thing that I have ever read and most of the members in my book club felt the same way. Difficult to determine exacting what was occuring, and a lot of characters to decipher. Great if you have majored in Literature at university, but otherwise you will most likely require additional aid (there are many study guides available online). (Nov 2007)


Add a Summary

FavouriteFiction Sep 30, 2009

This story about a family dissolving is told by three brothers; Benjy, the "idiot", suicidal Quentin, and heartless Jason.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number



Find it at GL

To Top