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BOOK REVIEWS The Sound and the Fury. William Faulkner. Norton Critical Edition. Ed. Michael Gorra. New York: W. W. Norton, 2014. 544 pp. $19.37 paper. MICHAELGORRA’SNEWNORTONCRITICALEDITION OFTHESOUNDANDTHE Fury is a welcome update to David Minter’s 1994 text, even as it draws heavily on that earlier work. Like Minter, Gorra uses Noel Polk’s corrected text and he retains Minter’s detailed annotations. The third edition also retains Polk’s note on the text and list of variants, making it useful for students and studious lay readers alike. Readers familiar with the second edition will find that the preface to the new volume has been significantly expanded, doubled in length actually, to include a more detailed description of the novel’s history with an eye to Faulkner’s belief in risk and failure, both in his life and in his writing. Gorra writes, “Faulkner believed in failure—or at least he believed in risking it.” He goes on to describe how in The Sound and the Fury Faulkner claimed that he tried and failed to tell the same story from four viewpoints before taking the chance to “fail one last time” in writing his “Appendix: Compson, 1699-1945" some fifteen years after the novel’s publication (viii). Also of note in this expanded preface is Gorra’s attention to biographical context, linking the text and its publication history to concurrent events in Faulkner’s life. For example, Gorra mentions the possibility that the character of Caddy Compson, Faulkner’s“heart’sdarling”(x),mighthavebeeninspiredbyhisidealized childhood memories of his wife, Estelle, even as he warns, “any biographer must be cautious” about such connections. Another more “definitive” connection Gorra makes concerns the Chandler house in Oxford, a large antebellum home, once surrounded by an iron fence, which is surely the inspiration for the Compson home in the novel (xi). The additional historical and biographical contexts in Gorra’s preface provide a firmer, welcoming background to the confusing world of The Sound and the Fury. Inadditiontoanexpandedpreface,themostsignificantchangescome in the second half of the work. It features an added section detailing the novel’s initial reception and combines the previously separated “Backgrounds and Contexts” into a single section with internal divisions (v). Moreover, Gorra has updated the critical material, trimming some 344 Mississippi Quarterly older selections and adding essays from the decade since the second edition’s printing. Critical essays new to this volume include Eric Sundquist’s “The Myth of The Sound and the Fury.”; André Bleikasten’s “An Easter without Resurrection?”; Noel Polk’s “Trying Not to Say: A Primer”; Doreen Fowler’s “‘Little Sister Death’: The Sound and the Fury and the Denied Unconscious”; Richard Godden’s “‘Trying to Say’: Benjamin Compson, Forming Thoughts, and the Crucible of Race”; John T. Matthews’s “Dialect and Modernism in The Sound and the Fury.”; Stacy Burton’s “Rereading Faulkner: Authority, Criticism, and The Sound and the Fury.”; and Maria Truchan-Tataryn’s “Textual Abuse: Faulkner’s Benjy.” Critical essays that reappear in the third edition include Jean-Paul Sartre’s “On The Sound and the Fury.: Time in the Work of Faulkner”; Olga W. Vickery’s “The Sound and the Fury.: A Study in Perspective”; Cleanth Brooks’s “Man, Time, and Eternity”; John T. Irwin’s “Doubling and Incest in The Sound and the Fury.”; Donald M. Kartiganer’s “The Meaning of Form in The Sound and the Fury.”; Minter’s “Faulkner, Childhood, and the Making of The Sound of the Fury.”; Thadious M. Davis’s “Faulkner’s ‘Negro’ in The Sound and the Fury.”; Minrose C. Gwin’s “Hearing Caddy’s Voice”; and Philip M. Weinstein’s “‘If I Could Say Mother’: Construing the Unsayable about Faulknerian Maternity.” The resultant mix of classic and more modern scholarship provides a varied sampling of the best of the work on this novel to date, highlighting new scholarly concerns and complicating even further notions of Faulknerian time, psychology, and language. Gorra also rightly retains the offering of contextual materials key to a fuller understanding of Faulkner’s novel, including letters, interviews, Faulkner’s introduction to the novel and map of Yoknapatawpha County, the “Appendix: Compson 1699-1945,” and the record of Faulkner’s class...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2689-517X
Print ISSN
0026-637X
Pages
pp. 343-344
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-27
Open Access
No
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