Introduced by Stephen M. Ross and Noel Polk
The exclusive colourised text version of an American literary masterpiece, now produced in a standard edition due to popular demand. Published the way William Faulkner wanted it to be published.
Based on The Folio Society’s celebrated limited edition of 2012, this edition of William Faulkner’s classic work – famous for its multiple viewpoints and chronological layers – allows the reader to experience The Sound and the Fury as its author always intended. The timelines in the Benjy section of this unique version have each been isolated and assigned a colour, thus allowing the reader to navigate a fragmented narrative. A specially developed bookmark displaying the colour key is included to assist when cross-referencing between the novel and its commentary.
The book begins on a day in April 1928, with events recounted from the point of view of Benjy Compson, a man in his 30s but with the mind of a small child. For Benjy each sight, word or action in the present propels him through his memories, and via his uncomprehending observation we gain a picture of a family in freefall, from wealth to poverty, from love to bitter division.
As the book progresses we learn more – first through the eyes of Quentin (haunted, unhappy), then through Jason (spiteful, filled with resentment), and finally centring on Dilsey, the servant whose loyalty and faith is all holds the household together.
The Sound and the Fury, which chronicles the disastrous decline of the Compson family, is acknowledged as one of the masterpieces of 20th-century literature. It takes the modernist narrative devices of stream-of-consciousness, time-shifts and multiple changes of viewpoint to an unprecedented level of sophistication.
Faulkner was well aware that readers would find it difficult, and employed italic and roman type to convey its ‘unbroken-surfaced confusion’, but when his agent attempted to standardise and simplify the system Faulkner angrily objected. He quickly jotted down eight time-levels in Benjy’s section, ‘just a few I recall’, and wished that it could be ‘printed the way it ought to be with different color types’, but, he concluded pessimistically, ‘I don’t reckon … it’ll ever be printed that way’.
As well as the innovative colour scheme, this single volume contains an introduction and full line-by-line commentary and glossary by Stephen M. Ross and Noel Polk, two of the most respected Faulkner scholars of recent times. Ross and Polk worked closely with Folio in designing the groundbreaking coloured-ink text for this edition, and their introduction explores the difficulties, doubts and excitement of the colourisation project.
An extract from Noel Polk and Stephen M. Ross’s Introduction to the Folio Society Edition:
According to his inked note on the final page of the carbon typescript of The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner finished typing it in “New York N.Y.” in “October 1928.” His friend from Mississippi and acting agent, Ben Wasson, writing some fifty years later, relates how Faulkner then came to his room, “tossed a large obviously filled envelope on the bed” and said, “Read this, Bud. It’s a real son-of-a-bitch … This one’s the greatest I’ll ever write.” Faulkner wrote to his Aunt Bama around that same time that it was “the damndest book I ever read. I don’t believe anyone will publish it for 10 years. Harcourt swear they will, but I don’t believe it.” He was right about Harcourt, who rejected it on February 15, 1929. Whereupon his friend and editor at Harcourt, Hal Smith, left that firm to partner with London’s Jonathan Cape, who wanted an American subsidiary, taking Faulkner’s manuscript with him. The new firm of Jonathan Cape and Harrison Smith executed a contract for the new novel on February 18, 1929.
According to Wasson’s account, he and Faulkner discussed the novel’s technical difficulties; he told the author that the “sheer technical outrageousness and freshness of the Benjy section made it hard to follow.” Faulkner acknowledged the difficulties, and responded:
If I could only get it printed the way it ought to be with different color types for the different times in Benjy’s section recording the flow of events for him, it would make it simpler, probably. I don’t reckon, though, it’ll ever be printed that way, and this’ll have to be the best, with the italics indicating the changes of events.
Please sign in to your account to leave a review for The Sound and the Fury.