Sanctuary by William Faulkner 1 Comment

Sanctuary by William Faulkner

With each piece I read, I like the work of William Faulkner more and more. It’s as if you want to cheer for his ability to get away with using such rich and expansive language across the entirety of a novel. For me, Faulkner is like three courses of dessert. He writes in a style you wish you could get away with:

When they passed it Temple saw, leaning to a cupped match, Popeye’s delicate hooked profile beneath the slanted hat as he lit the cigarette. The match flipped outward like a dying star in miniature, sucked with the profile into darkness by the rush of their passing. (pp. 346)

This novel is definitely one of his more accessible pieces, and may have been written as a bit of a money-spinner for the author. Nonetheless, all your trademark Faulkner elements are here: temporal disjuncture, linguistic deviance and rich, rich metaphor.

The characterisation is interesting and the inevitability of the plot reeks like a huge decaying garden, mixing the perfumes of gender, race and sexual issues, with of course heavy overtones of the old traditional south: there’s Temple Drake, our tragic heroine, a fallen gentleman, bootleggers, murder, a rape and all of it set in Faulkner’s own fictional Yoknapatawpha County.

William Faulkner. Novels 1930-1935. Library of America, 1985.

  • Sam Cooney

    i’ve never read any faulkner, but i like the idea of a three course dessert.

    which of his books would you recommend reading first? As I Lay Dying is often mentioned…?

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