|About the Book|
Economically put, William Faulkners As I Lay Dying is the story of the death and eventual burial of Addie Bundren, matriarch of the poor, farming, Southern Bundren family, and of the meaning of her death and burial journey to that family. But thisMoreEconomically put, William Faulkners As I Lay Dying is the story of the death and eventual burial of Addie Bundren, matriarch of the poor, farming, Southern Bundren family, and of the meaning of her death and burial journey to that family. But this is a story that defies a brief summing up. As Addie herself says in the novel, Words dont ever fit even what they are trying to say at. Especially so few words about such a multifaceted work. Embedded in the text is the secret story of each characters inner life- the tangled ensnaring story the characters live together as a family- the universal story of human beings struggling with the meaning of death- the cultural story of the impoverished 1920s in the rural South- the American story of the struggle between individual desire and the collective good. Faulkner unravels all of these stories -- and more -- from the impelling event of Addies death. In this concise critical assessment of the novel, Warwick Wadlington takes the view that each of the stories the novel tells simultaneously grows out of and informs the other, much as people shape and are shaped by one another. Faulkners tendency to show the reader his fictional world from many different angles and points of view -- giving each of the characters, for example, a chance to tell his or her private version of a story -- is thus echoed in Wadlingtons approach to the novel. The author takes into account the many frames through which As I Lay Dying can be perceived -- sociohistorical, psychological, cultural, religious, political, artistic, personal -- and synthesizes them for the reader. Faulkners novel as a whole, too, is a story pulled out of older stories that wouldeventually be taken up by newer ones. As I Lay Dying shows the influence of such master narratives as Joseph Conrads The Nigger of the Narcissus, Sherwood Andersons Winesburg, Ohio, James Joyces Ulysses, and T. S. Eliots The Waste Land. And it anticipates much 1930s writing.