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Light in AugustR’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 WTF?SECOND 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

book Light in August

read Light in August epub ✓ Paperback Ö william faulkner Ñ 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 Lonely outcast haunted by visions of Confederate glory; and Joe Christmas a desperate enigmatic drifter consumed by his mixed ancestry William Faulker Light in AugustSitting beside the road watching the wagon mount the hill toward her Lena thinks 'I have come from Alabama a fur piece'Here Faulker presents Lena who has a passive role in Light in August as this phrase sitting watching thinking points out she is not actually doing an action here other than a purely mental one There is a lonely languid feeling imparted by watching the wagon mount the hill that is shared with the wonderful title of the book The southern drawl in fur and the reference to being far from Alabama mark this book as one of the deep South just as Faulkner himself The phrase is slow and takes its time to build up just as the structure of the book for which it is the opening phrase There are a multitude of verbs in the phrase but as I pointed out earlier they are passive in the book there is actually uite a lot of action and violence but it is described at a slow deliberate pace throughoutLight in August back in AP English was my first exposure to Faulkner and it was a mind blower His grandiose phrasing the palpable violence and life in the characters and the dark Southern gothic atmosphere mesmerized me Although it was years before I returned to Faulkner eventually reading nearly everything he wrote including the 2 volume biography by Joseph Blotner Light in August had always held for me a high and exalted place in 20th C American literature and remains one of my all time favourite books Cover to cover it is exuisitely wrought out of the mud of Yoknapatawpha County Mississippi painfully depicting the entwined destinies of Lena Grove Byron Burch and Joe Christmas what an extraordinary name for a character Eually impossible to forget is Faulkner's depiction of the preacher Gail Hightower only rarely Flannery O'Connor comes to mind has anyone so vividly given a face as compelling and iconic to southern fundamentalism as thisAn absolute must read especially if you are wishing to discover Faulkner

William Faulkner À Light in August book

Light in August a novel that contrasts stark tragedy with hopeful perseverance in the face of mortality which features some of Faulkne I’m not going to attempt to write an erudite review of this book because then I would simply be revealing the glaring holes in my Faulkner education A scholarly write up of this brilliant man’s work is best left to students of college literature classes or perhaps a well taught AP English course or another reviewer adept than I Confession I was hesitant to read this but I was determined to make another attempt after a failed one several years ago when I picked up a copy of Absalom Absalom I vaguely recall reading Faulkner in high school and the fact that I can’t uite remember the details tells me it was probably neither a poor nor an exceedingly enjoyable experience I am happy to say that this time around I was sold Light in August is not only accessible in my opinion but is also a remarkable work of fiction This is what I would call Southern Gothic fiction at its finest Jefferson Mississippi in the 1920s was rife with racism misogyny and religious fanaticism The depiction of every single character is striking Their lives are tragic lonely and often violent I couldn’t help but feel that each and every one of us must be damned in one way or another after reading this A man of mixed race Joe Christmas is the epitome of a person consumed by an identity crisis He strives to find where he belongs and in the process becomes completely alienated He cannot find his place as either a black or a white man Society feeds and inflames his feelings of alienation Nothing can look uite as lonely as a big man going along an empty street Yet though he was not large not tall he contrived somehow to look lonely than a lone telephone pole in the middle of a desert In the wide empty shadowbrooded street he looked like a phantom a spirit strayed out of its own world and lostThe other characters that populate this novel are eually compelling and I won’t soon forget Lena Grove Byron Bunch Lucas Burch Reverend Hightower Joanna Burden and many Since what truly sells me with any book is the writing itself I’m not a plot only kind of gal it would be remiss if I failed to mention the pure artistry of Faulkner’s prose – often poetic deeply emotive and highly evocative of this time and place He can remember how when he was young after he first came to Jefferson from the seminary how that fading copper light would seem almost audible like a dying yellow fall of trumpets dying into an interval of silence and waiting out of which they would presently come Already even before the falling horns had ceased it would seem to him that he could hear the beginning thunder not yet louder than a whisper a rumor in the airI feel at a loss to say about this book except that we must continue to reflect on our humanity and our obligations towards others We must as a society strive to work harder on inclusiveness and acceptance of others Faulkner’s message rings all too clear right nowIt was with tremendous sadness that on the same evening that I finished reading this masterpiece on May 22 2019 I learned that a young classmate of my daughter’s a fifteen year old young man had taken his own life A teenager who seemed always cheerful and one whose goal was to make others laugh at his charming antics He wanted to embrace others What amount of misery and feelings of isolation must have resided in his hurting soul for him to take such a drastic and irrevocable step; I can’t begin to imagine the pain he felt and now that of his grieving family