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characters Light in August ´ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF Ô Light in August a novel that contrasts stark tragedy with hopeful perseverance in the face of mortality which features some of Faulkner’s most memorable characters guileless dauntless Lena Grove in search of the father of her unborn child; Reverend Gail Hightower a lonLonely outcast haunted by visions of Confederate glory; and Joe Christmas a desperate enigmatic drifter consumed by his mixed ancestry. A couple of thoughts I’ll tie together 1 I read a BBC article that suggests a large percentage of people keep books on their shelf to impress others rather than to read them 2 As young students teachers take us to the library and allow us to pick out whatever book we like as long as we’re not just trying to avoid reading by picking out a pamphlet but by the time we reach high school and college it’s assigned Though I believe an educator’s recommendation to be valuable I believe taking away a person’s choice can rob them of finding the book that will spark excitement and turn them into readers for life I believe far too many people are forced to read classics when uite frankly some of them will never be appealing For me I usually have strong reactions good or bad to the classics but I found my spark long ago For most people though they know that reading is an intelligent practice but they’re bored by what they’ve been forced to read so books are used for the perception they create rather than the pleasure of their contents While some of it is taste and a blatant unwillingness to participate in any medium straying from the instant gratification culture there are certainly a good number of masturbatory authors who are concerned with coming off as intelligent rather than relatable I believe William Faulkner is one of those writers who lets his writing get in the way of a good story Published in 1932 Light in August is written in the Southern Gothic tradition—set in Faulkner’s fictional Mississippi county Yoknapatawpha county—where the grotesue is often perpetrated by horrorromance archetypes without moral judgment from the author The plot consists of three connected strands 1 A pregnant woman Lena Grove in search of the father of her baby; 2 An enigmatic alcohol smuggler Joe Christmas struggling with his mixed ancestry; and 3 A disgraced Priest Reverend Gail Hightower who lives in near isolation after annoying the town with his sermons about his dead grandfather Much of the novel deals with the racism of the South pulling in violence and observing Judeo Christian values if they were smashed into a funhouse mirror It takes a little while to find Faulkner’s rhythm but it’s not a tough search and it’s enjoyable until you realize he won’t just tell the story The reader gets dragged through lengthy flashbacks even though the compelling plot line just found its adrenaline Then you’ll get to the part you’ve been waiting for and Faulkner will skip ahead spoiling his own story then slowly backing through the incident without any of the tension There are obscure punctuation choices too and while it’s not a major point of contention it illustrates my frustration with his style He uses six ellipses when the standard three will do The second uarter of this book about 150 pages could have easily been trimmed back to a lean 30 and even though I liked the last chapter at least 40 of the pages before that could have been cut out too but that’s not Faulkner’s style He believes in stream of consciousness where thoughts expand and ideas ramble so that you understand the deepest recesses of a character While this has certain strengths—as each character gets presented in differing ways depending on who’s viewing them—I still find the style obese and much of the information superfluous I lean minimalistic by default though even I like a little meat on the bone so I’m not a fan of reading what I think a visceral editor should have cut Nothing seems to be minor in Faulkner’s eyes As a result none of the characters feel all that major either They’re uniue distinguished but with everything else there’s just too much to appreciate it It’s like mixing all the beautiful colors After a while you just end up with brown Sometimes you need to make choices and Faulkner doesn’t make enough for my liking As a result any other book of his will not come onto my shelf I don’t care who thinks I look smart Two stars Barely

review ↠ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF Ñ William Faulkner

R’s most memorable characters guileless dauntless Lena Grove in search of the father of her unborn child; Reverend Gail Hightower a. I can’t figure out if reading Faulkner – particularly THIS one – at the very time of the massive George Floyd protests is hideously inappropriate or exactly the right thing to do All I knew when I started was that I wanted to give Faulkner another shot Many years ago I laboured heroically through The Sound and the Fury and I seem to remember I thought it was brilliant but maybe that was just because I survived it Then recently I read As I Lay Dying and that one was great no euivocation I loved that one So maybe I’m a Faulkner fan Let’s seeTurns out I’m not There are major problems with this novelFIRST PROBLEMThe story of Joe Christmas is the main thread here We get his whole life story The big thing about Joe is his race this is the Deep South and the 1920s after all He looks like a white guy but he’s been told he has some “Negro” blood in him This is just a rumour no one has any proof He could and does live in white society without anyone raising an eyebrow The only way people get to know he might be part black is that he keeps telling them Knowing he might possibly be “part” what part 5% 10% this is never debated Negro crushes Joe’s life it drives him crazy And everyone he obsessively tells reacts as if he’s just ripped off his human facemask to reveal a mass of wriggling tentacles They rear back in horror they hiss they throw him out with great force It’s like if he sticks around they might catch blackness from him It’s like there was an especial disgust in finding they were in a room with a part black guy without realising itReading this in the UK in 2020 is strange than strange it’s virtually incomprehensible There are around 125 million mixed race people in this country No one bats an eyelid nobody cares The only thing people are likely to say is “oh those mixed race kids have such great hair” Now this is not to say racism doesn’t exist in the UK far from it But this horror of racial mixing of white people being in some way contaminated by black “blood” we would call it genes now I guess is not part of the picture So it seems to a modern reader as if Joe Christmas is suffering from an imaginary disease If he just shut up about it no one would know But he can’t So he suffers horribly Check this extraordinary passage Because the black blood drove him first to the negro cabin And then the white blood drove him out of there as it was the black blood which snatched up the pistol and the white blood which would not let him fire it And it was the white blood which sent him to the minister which rising in him for the last and final time sent him against all reason and all reality into the embrace of a chimera a blind faith in something read in a printed Book Then I believe that the white blood deserted him for the moment I mean WTFSECOND PROBLEMThe N word is used liberally on every other page If that’s going to offend you steer clear of Light in August Not only is it used a whole lot it’s used by the characters in the most offensive way possible THIRD PROBLEMFaulkner thinks us readers have got unlimited patience so he just doesn’t give a rat’s or any other mammalian ass about moving the story forward At first you think hey 100 pages this is so straightforward I thought Faulkboy was supposed to be tough And then everything screeches to a halt while a huge backstory is told in great detail Then we shoot off on another entirely different story Then we have to have this person’s tiresome biography and that character too and then we jump back to fill in the bit of a part of the story only this newly introduced character was present at A good example is the very last chapter of this long book – we get a totally new character introduced right there Cute This stop start monkey business was like to drive me crazy FOURTH PROBLEMThe writing style changes all the time from chapter to chapter and within chapters I love this idea of course I am a fan of Ulysses but some of Faulkner’s styles are going to give you the heebyjeebies He knows what he’s doing he’s being deliberately difficult unless he was drunk in charge of a typewriter He seems to enjoy complication verging on bafflement for its own sake Joe Christmas is wondering about the “two creatures” that seem to inhabit his new lover Now it would be that still cold contained figure of the first phase who even though lost and damned remained somehow impervious and impregnable; then it would be the other the second one who in furious denial of that impregnability strove to drown in the black abyss of its own creating that physical purity which had been preserved too long now even to be lost The neighbours poke about in the ruins of a burned house where a woman died So they moiled and clotted believing that the flames the blood the body that had died three years ago and had just now begun to live again cried out for vengeance not believing that the rapt infury of the flames and the immobility of the body were both affirmations of an attained bourne beyond the hurt and harm of man A guy tiptoes into an old guy’s room to wake him up There was a uality of profound and complete surrender in it Not of exhaustion but surrender as though he had given over and relinuished completely that grip upon that blending of pride and hope and vanity and fear that strength to cling to either defeat or victory which is the I Am and the relinuishment of which is usually death Also Faulkner comes up with some really ridiculous similes – here are eyes like beasts She watched him holding his eyes up to hers like two beasts about to break as if he knew that when they broke this time he would never catch them turn them again and that he himself would be lost And his pages and pages of loony old man preacher ravings about God’s abomination ie his grandson and bitches and whores ie his daughter sound exactly like somebody’s parody of the florid Bible soaked nutcases of The South And he just had to watch and to wait and he did and it was in the Lord’s good time for evil to come from evil And the doctor’s Jezebel come running from her lustful bed still astink with sin and fear etc etc etc FIFTH PROBLEM WHAT FAULKNER DID NOT BELIEVERound about the time he was writing this book the Carter Family were recording one of their famous songs you know the one it goes Well there's a dark and a troubled side of lifeThere's a bright and a sunny side tooBut if you meet with the darkness and strifeThe sunny side we also may viewKeep on the sunny side always on the sunny sideKeep on the sunny side of lifeIt will help us every day it will brighten all the wayIf we keep on the sunny side of lifeFaulkner did not believe in keeping on the sunny side No Not even slightly This novel is a gigantic miseryfest I saw a review that described all of this Southern Gothic genre of literature including old man Faulkner as “morose scab picking” Wow that’s a little harsh AND IN THE ENDI mean the guy can write he has command and he has immense material and he has a great milieu and all of that going for him It’s just that three uarters the way through Light in August you may feel that you are going to die Probably in a bizarre agricultural accident BONUS TRACK his face sweating his lip lifted upon his clenched and rotting teeth from about which the long sagging of flabby and puttycolored flesh falls awayoh shut up William

William Faulkner Ñ 8 characters

Light in AugustLight in August a novel that contrasts stark tragedy with hopeful perseverance in the face of mortality which features some of Faulkne. It occurs to me on reading Light in August for the third time in twenty years that if America were ever to try to come to terms with its legacy of slavery unlikely now at this late date but if it ever were to empanel some kind of Truth and Reconciliation Commission like the one South Africa had after apartheid and which seems especially needed now that we are mourning the shooting deaths by cops of so many unarmed black men then William Faulkner's novels certainly this one should be part of the background documentation of such a study What Faulkner has done here is to lay bare the racial tragedy of the American South in the 1920s such as no one else has ever done Certainly the works of Toni Morrison Ralph Ellison and others should be part of that documentation too But what Faulkner shows us in Light in August seems to me a wholly uniue recounting — despite the fact that it is fiction — of a huge part of our national catastropheJoe Christmas lives as a white man but believes he has a little African blood in him He is left by persons unknown at a white orphanage one Christmas day thus his name At age five when his African blood is discovered by the staff of the orphanage he is uickly placed in the foster home of a white man named McEachern who lives in a kind of perpetual self dramatizing Christian self abasement which he forces on his new stepson and which Joe ultimately rejects Perhaps if he had been luckier in his foster parents Joe would not have developed as he has but his upbringing by McEachern is brutal physically abusive traumatic When he escapes his room one night to go dancing with a local harlot about whom he entertains romantic notions of love and marriage he is followed by his step father who accuses him of whoring Joe kills his step father on the dance floor and runs for his life For fifteen years he drifts The unfortunate and I would argue false dichotomy of black and white seems to rip Joe Christmas apart before our eyes Nowhere can he feel at home His self hatred becomes outsize beyond reason Some people broken by misfortune become psychotic as Joe does though there is probably some genetic predisposition to become so Anyway Joe starts to hears voices Who is he Can he truly be anyone After he wanders much of the country at one point living in a black community in Chicago where he is condemned for being white he winds up back in the American south in Jefferson Louisiana where he gets a job shoveling sawdust in a planing mill He has no friendships no sense of humor no apparent hopes no dreams He is bitter and angry deprived of all loving human contact despite his efforts to secure itJoanna Burden lives alone in Jefferson and is the sole remaining representative of a family of northern abolitionists that moved south during Reconstruction to prevent the post slavery degradation of African Americans which the zealous Burden patriarch was determined to stop They were despised by the white community When the patriarch accompanied by his grandson argued too vociferously for voting rights for blacks in Jefferson one day they were gunned down by a single bullet from the gun of Colonel Sartoris Joanna's father buried them on the estate in unmarked graves so they would not be disinterred and desecrated Joanna's family was one of means which maintained a dozen or homes and schools for African Americans in the south the administration of which she is still involved When Joe Christmas stumbles on Joanna's house five miles from Jefferson he breaks into the kitchen pantry Unperturbed by the intrusion Joanna starts to leave food out for him every evening while allowing him to stay on the estate in what were once accommodations for black household servants To the reader Joanna represents perhaps Joe's last chance to find if not love then some kind of mutually supportive relationship But he is too twisted by his misfortunes by this time and the only relationship with her he is capable of is one of unloving sex and disdain for her unattractive manish ways Besides who could possibly love anyone so undeserving as himself Her interest in him must therefore be misplacedWhen Joe Christmas then does a bad bad thing which precipitates his flight across bog and bramble and forest and marsh of Yoknapatawpha County pursued by the Sheriff and his deputies and a pack of honking hounds why the reader is in for uite a thrilling chase In this section you will find some of the finest descriptive writing in the book Faulkner is always so good with figures moving through landscape While we do not forgive Joe for what he has done we understand him and even feel for him in his travails How Faulkner is able to do this to evoke the reader's sympathy for Joe Christmas despite his evil acts is one reason this reader has returned repeatedly to this text I do not think it going too far to say that here we find in Joe something of what Shakespeare was able to embue Richard III with Joe's half caste status standing in for Richard's apparent physical disfigurementThe novel's use of psychic distance is perfect By that I mean the distance the reader feels between himself and the events of the story Faulkner seems to stand off a bit and record everything from that seemingly objective remove so the cascade of detail is neither overwhelming in its specificity nor too thin It is in fact stunningly consistent throughout The story is rich emotionally complex but rendered for the most part simply and cleanly The mannerisms of the author's late style polysyllabic words outlandishly tortuous locutions etc are apparent only fleetingly This masterpiece flows mellifluously yet plainly without needless clutter Its story might be summarized in a paragraph or two but its execution is so rich so thorough so vivid that it takes the breath away