Faulkner's early--and succinct--judgment on The
Sound and the Fury was that his fourth novel was "a real sonofabitch."1
Although its sales would turn out to be as disappointing as those of his
first three novels and do little to alleviate his financial distress, the
reviews were generally favorable and more than justified Faulkner's remark.
Since that time ; this brilliant, difficult work has continued to attract
more critical attention than any other single Faulkner work, and its popularity
seems unlikely to fade. Faulkner's initial sense of exhilaration would
become tempered in his maturity by his sense of having attempted something
other than what he had achieved--of having written a book that was "the
most gallant, the most magnificent failure."2
But that reservation notwithstanding, Faulkner's moving and frequently
quoted remarks about the novel uniformly testify to the very special place,
to the highly personal significance, he accorded the work that was a long
awaited and, from the artist's point of view, a timely critical if not
Will you agree to this with the understanding that I either pay you the what-ever-it-is I owe you, or that I submit to you the next mss. I complete? I do not know just when I'll have another ready, but if I can place the one I have on hand and get an advance, I can pay you the money. I have just sent some short stories to an agent; perhaps I shall derive something from them with which to pay you. Otherwise I dont know what we'll do about it as I have a belly full of writing, now, since you folks in the publishing business claim that a book like that last one I sent you is blah. I think now that I'll sell my typewriter and go to work--though God knows, it's sacrilege to waste that talent for idleness which I possess.3
A remarkable thing had occurred during the interval between the rejection of Flags in February 1928 and the completion of The Sound and the Fury typescript that October. As Faulkner expressed it a few years afterwards, "one day it suddenly seemed as if a door had clapped silently and forever to between me and all publishers' addresses and booklists and I said to myself, Now I can write. Now I can just write."6 That door closed, apparently, because, as Faulkner commented in 1932, "I believed then that I would never be published again. I had stopped thinking of myself in publishing terms.7 "The Sound and the Fury would be written "for fun"8 and would evoke, Faulkner recalled in 1933, an "emotion definite and physical and yet nebulous to describe ... that ecstasy, that eager and joyous faith and anticipation of surprise which the yet unmarred sheets beneath my hand held inviolate and unfailing...."9 The rejection of The Sound and the Fury by Harcourt, Brace would not elicit the despair produced by Liveright's refusal of Flags , in part, Faulkner wrote, because "I did not believe that anyone would publish it; I had no definite plan to submit it to anyone. I told Hal "Harrison Smith] about it once and he dared me to bring it to him. And so it really was to him that I submitted it, more as a curiosity than aught else."10
When Faulkner closed the door between himself and his publishers after his initial failure to place Flags in the Dust, the conjunction was evidently a happy one of his sense of freedom from the strictures imposed on an author attempting to write a marketable book and whatever compelling personal problems he referred to years later as besetting him at that time.11 Certainly the technical virtuosity of The Sound and the Fury is the most striking manifestation of this freedom. Another is the display of what he called in later years the responsibility of the artist to be "completely amoral" and "completely ruthless" in his need to "rob, borrow, beg or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done."l2 And "rob, borrow, beg, or steal" he did, consciously or unconsciously--and not just from Shakespeare and Hilton, Keats and Shelley, Flaubert and Dostoevski, Lawrence and Joyce, Conrad and Hardy, Swinburne, Eliot, Housman, Wilde, Yeats, Hemingway, Anderson, and Fitzgerald, but from Freud and Jung, Frazer, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Bergson, and others--drawing not only on specific literary masters but on the rich social and cultural milieu of the 1920s and indeed of all Western civilization, to make clear that what he called his carpenter's workshop was not centered in a cultural vacuum in those bleak and barren Mississippi hills.13 Or, as he wrote in the summer of 1933 in an introduction for a projected new edition of the novel by Random House:
Adumbrations of The Sound and the Fury, for instance, have frequently been pointed out in the prose sketches written in the twenties, especially those written for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Double Dealer: 17 the idiot who grasps a narcissus, bellows inarticulately, and has eyes that are intensely blue in "The Kingdom of God"; the appearance of a Little Sister Death figure in "The Kid Learns"; a Mr. Compson-like philosophy that "living is not only not passionate or joyous, but is not even especially sorrowful" in "Out of Nazareth";18 the use in "The Priest" of twilight, lilacs, hyacinths, and the famous passage from Macbeth that gave Faulkner's novel its title.l9 To these might be added the experimentation with Negro dialect in "The Longshoreman" and other pre-Jason vernacular expressions in sketches such as "Frankie and Johnny."
Perhaps even more interesting are several prose sketches that Faulkner did not publish, which display close affinities with The Sound and the Fury. Juliet Bunden, the protagonist of "Adolescence," for example, reminds us particularly of Caddy Compson: Juliet is a tomboy, climbs better than a boy, possesses a "fierce sensitive pride"20 and spends long hours in the creek. Like Caddy's family, Juliet's is composed of three brothers, the youngest of whom is her favorite. Juliet's attitude toward the male members of her family, including her weak, ineffectual father, mirrors something of Caddy's affection for Mr. Compson, Quentin, and Benjy. Even some of the imagery of the sketch looks forward to that of the novel, not only in its several references to twilight, but also in Juliet's feeling that she is "like one who has cast the dice and must wait an eternity for them to stop" and that "the attainment of happiness was thwarted by blind circumstance."21 These recall Jason's sense of helpless entrapment as he chases his niece about the countryside "where the rear guards of circumstance peeped fleetingly back at him" and "the opposed forces of his destiny and his will [drew] swiftly together."22
To turn from this awkward yet curiously moving sketch of a lost and almost tragic young girl to "The Devil Beats His Wife" is to come to what amounts to a fragment--three unnumbered manuscript pages without much merit--rather than a fully developed sketch.23 One of the unnumbered pages begins with a description of the black maid Della returning to her cabin. Here in embryonic form is the opening of the fourth section of the novel, although Dilsey will not "waddle" across the yard like Della. Nevertheless, Della's dominant characteristic, her "placid implacability" as reflected on her "placid inscrutable face," foreshadows Dilsey's more fully realized character. Both women wear a "stiff black straw hat" (p. 330) over a turban, and this phrase occurs in both opening paragraphs.
Equally noteworthy is Della's interaction with a young white girl named Doris, who is unhappily married, and who in her briefly delineated, whining immaturity somewhat foreshadows the young girl Quentin. In one scene, Della and Harry Doris's husband, knock at the door of her bedroom in-much the same way that Jason, Mrs. Compson, and Dilsey knock at Quentin's on the morning they discover her theft and flight. The description f of Doris's room anticipates the fine passage in the novel in which Quentin's empty room is described. A much more ambitious prose sketch, and one with considerably more artistic merit, is "Nympholepsy," probably written early in 1925 shortly after Faulkner's arrival in New Orleans.24 An expansion of an earlier sketch, "The Hill," published in the Mississippian, "Nympholepsy" displays close affinities to the imagery of the novel. Even more striking,however, is the use of the quest as a controlling structural device, Carefully complicated as it is by flashbacks, Quentin's monologue depicts his: spending the last day of his life wandering through the countryside evoking the past and his memory of Caddy. In the earlier sketch, the laborer pursues an equally unattainable woman across hill and field and eventually falls into a pool of water, at which point the woman is revealed as yet another of the early associations of a beautiful woman with death, an image which culminates in the association of Caddy with Little Sister Death.
Another early, unpublished work that has tangential relationship to The Sound and the Fury is an unfinished novel entitled "Elmer," which was begun in Paris in 1925. The characters and ideas apparently retained some degree of fascination for Faulkner since he returned to the material in the early 1930s and attempted to salvage portions of it in the short story "Portrait of Elmer."25 Despite Faulkner's unsuccessful treatment of an artist as a comic figure in: this work, he returns to the problem of the artist in The Sound and the Fury with Quentin's monologue, which has often been viewed as Faulkner's version of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.26 Most striking is Faulkner's depiction of another pre-Caddy figure who looks backward not only to Juliet Bunden but also forward to Addie Bundren and the young protagonist of "Barn Burning."
While much of the Elmer material is clearly related to the Snopes material which Faulkner would explore in the unfinished novel "Father Abraham" (out of which at least tangentially grew As I Lay Dying ), Elmer's sister, Jo-Addie, foreshadows several crucial details of the portrait of Caddy as conveyed particularly in Benjy's monologue. In the corrected 123-page typescript of "Elmer," while the early description of Elmer's family sounds more like Snopeses than Compsons, Elmer's relationship with his sister shares something of both Benjy's and Quentin's obsessive concern with Caddy. Elmer, like Benjy, is identified as the baby in his family; and like Benjy, Elmer sleeps in the same bed with his sister. However, that he quite unabashedly sleeps naked with her suggests something more of Quentin's sexual preoccupations than of Benjy's fulfilling in Caddy his need for maternal affection. In one scene Elmer asks Jo-Addie to sleep with him after the family has moved again. In the later novel this scene is paralleled by Caddy's lying down beside Benjy to comfort him when he is thirteen and has trouble falling asleep by himself. Despite their physical differences, Caddy and Jo-Addie are both associated with the masculine virtues of daring and strength which Quentin so admires in his sister, Further, both girls are associated with fire, Jo-Addie as her home burns, Caddy through Benjy's association of love and tenderness with the flames in the fireplace and the reflection of light in the mirror. In the eyes of the young Elmer, Jo-Addie "stood fiercely erect as ever, watching the fire in a dark proud defiance, ridiculing her sorrowing brothers by her very sharp and arrogant ugliness"; Elmer sees her as "a young ugly tree" and its "a fierce young mare."27 Jo-Addie, too, disappears from her family forever, although, as McHaney notes, we are given a brief glimpse of her as a New Orleans prostitute. This is perhaps echoed in the later novel, which clearly implies that such is Caddy's fated, the later Compson Appendix seems to confirm those suspicions.
In contrast to these awkward and unfinished pieces are two more ambitious, polished accomplishments: Marionettes, written in 1920 and prepared by its author in several hand-lettered and hand-illustrated copies, and Mayday, another hand-lettered, illustrated booklet dated January 27, 1926, which Faulkner gave to Helen Baird. Like Mayday,28 Marionettes reveals a number of Faulkner's early literary sources as well as his experiments with crucial structural devices, including the frame, shifting point of view, and counterpointed plot, that recur in the later novel. And, as the character of Galwyn in Mayday anticipates Quentin in so many respects, so the figure of Marietta adumbrates Caddy as well as her brother Quentin. Through Marietta's seduction and abandonment by Pierrot, the themes of change, time, sexuality, and death are explored, issues which lie at the very heart of The Sound and the Fury and are mirrored in Caddy's seduction and abandonment by Dalton Ames. However, although Marietta is associated with trees, like Caddy Compson and so many of the young women in Faulkner's early prose and poetry, including Cecily Saunders and Patricia Robyn, she reminds us rather more of the elder Quentin than of Caddy. Like Marietta, who is troubled by "strange desires" so that her "garden is like a dark room When the candles are extinguished," Quentin refuses, or at least lacks the capacity, to acknowledge that both his and Caddy's entries into the world of sexuality are part of the natural order of things, part of the natural flux of time.29 Caddy has nothing in hereof Marietta's cold reluctance to acknowledge that change, symbolized specifically in both works through sexual initiation, is as necessary as the inevitable passage of the seasons. And while Caddy, like Marietta, immerses herself in water, Caddy's stream signifies her fertility, her capacity for love, rather than her narcissism. The scene at the pool, where Marietta admires her reflection is more accurately a precursor of Quentin's staring down into the Charles River, bent on stasis and self-destruction, insisting on a denial of life rather than acceptance of change.
A final piece of Faulkner's apprenticeship must be mentioned as a significant precursor to The Sound and the Fury. Originally composed for Margaret Brown, Faulkner later made a copy of a little fable he entitled The Wishing Tree for his future wife's daughter by her first marriage.30 Several commentators have cited a number of details emphasized in The Wishing Tree, including the wisteria-scented breezes, grey mists, the use of a flat-iron, a clock, a rolling pin and a shoe, as parallels to The Sound and the Fury. 31 But it is with Dulcie's descent down a ladder from her bedroom window that we move closer to the double image at the heart of the later novel. In the novel, Caddy climbs up a tree to peer into Damuddy's window and thus begins metaphorically her journey toward knowledge and experience. Her ascent is later reflected in the descent of her daughter Quentin down a pear tree. The image of Caddy climbing up the tree was frequently cited by Faulkner as the inception of the short story which grew into the novel.
Caddy's three brothers peer up at her from the ground below and are soon joined by Dilsey; in The Wishing Tree Dulcie climbs down the ladder assisted by the boy magician Maurice while her neighbor, George, and her little brother, Dicky, accompanied by their black nurse, Alice, watch from below. In the fable, Faulkner not only explores the possibilities of perception from a child's point of view but plays variations on a theme by differentiating among the children as to their levels of sensitivity and awareness. Maurice, the leader of Dulcie's expedition, appears to be the most knowledgeable; it is he, after all, who controls their magical adventures. Like Maurice, who shares with Quentin a name with romantic, chivalric connotations, Quentin is clearly differentiated from the other children by virtue of his more sophisticated understanding of the situations in which they are involved, in both the novel and the closely related short story "That Evening Sun." Like George, Jason remains oblivious to everything but the gratification of his own desires. His gluttony as a child is mirrored in George's wish for a bowl of strawberries and a chocolate cake, which he eats until he feels sick. George's stubborn contrariness may also remind us of the young Jason's bratty behavior. Both wish themselves home, and in The Wishing Tree, at least, Maurice's magical powers are obliging and whisk George directly out of the tale. Dulcie's little brother, Dicky, is a baby like Benjy. His limited vocabulary, pronunciation, and syntactical difficulties suggest that he is around three, approximately the same age as Benjy.
Still other characters in The Wishing Tree foreshadow their more masterful and extended counterparts in The Sound and the Fury. Alice, for instance, has: something inched of Dilsey without Dilsey's complexity and maturity. Despite-her child-like amazement and strained relationship with her husband, which ally her with Nancy in "That Evening Sun," Alice is as protective of the children, particularly of Dicky, as Dilsey is of Benjy. Dilsey will, as a matter of fact, echo two of Alice's lines: "'You hush yo mouth" (p. 355)/"'Hush your motif"' (TS 33) and "'You vilyun"' (p. 395)/"You triflin' vilyun'" (TS 35). The jaybirds of the fourth section of the novel that "came up from nowhere, whirled up on the blast like gaudy scraps of cloth or paper" (p. 331) cannot but recall that huge jaybird which "whirled about them"(TS 53)in The Wishing Tree, although the image also appears in Faulkner's poetry. Alice even protests Maurice Is giving a whip to Dicky to use on the pony that pulls their cart. Dilsey's response to Luster' s whip, as he prepares to take Benjy for a ride in the carriage in the closing pages of the novel, is similar, although, unlike Alice, she does not relent.
Other details suggest the close relationship of the Two works, including the importance of ponies and the birthday motif which look forward to the Benjy section of the novel where both come to figure so prominently by the typescript stage.32 Suffice it to say that The Wishing Tree seems very close indeed to what Faulkner described as the kernel of The Sound and the Fury, minus that one ingredient which perhaps gave Faulkner the tremendous creative spurt with which to begin it:
This is not to say that the path to The Sound and the Fury is an orderly, logical sequence of development, for such is clearly not the case. Nothing by Faulkner, published or unpublished, before this novel equals it in sheer creative brilliance nor foretells the arrival of this work. Rather, the ten years preceding its writing saw tentative explorations made by the maturing writer--explorations of character, imagery, structure, theme, and tone--strikings out in different directions with varying degrees of success but with no lesson lost on the struggling craftsman. Then, finally, when he was ready, Faulkner closed that door between himself and the world and wrote the first of his great novels.
Given the frequency and consistency of statements
made later in his career, it seems virtually certain that the novel did
originate as a short story: it "began as exhort story, it was a story without
plot, of some children being sent away from the house during the grandmother's
funeral."38 Possibly that
story was originally conceived in connection with "a collection of short
stories of my townspeople" about which Faulkner wrote Horace Liveright
on February 18, 1927.39
However, Carvel Collins has argued for an even earlier composition date
on the strength of testimony from a "friend" of Faulkner's who in Paris
in l925 read a work in progress that dealt with a girl and her brothers.
Although he vigorously defends the accuracy and reliability of this friend's
memory, Collins does not identify him. While it is possible that what Collins
alludes to is "Elmer," or a fragment, or a short story later incorporated
into the novel, or even an early version of "That Evening Sun," Faulkner's
own comments do not seem to support such an early date for the beginning
composition of the novel proper.40
However, the events in this scene gave Faulkner pause. In this episode Quentin attempts to kill Caddy and then himself. Unsuccessful, he goes so far as to hold a knife to her throat before--pitifully, helplessly--dropping the knife. This desperate effort and Quentin's anguished failure have great dramatic impact, but by opening his monologue with these tortured and tormented actions, Faulkner must actually backtrack to offer much more detailed explanation for such extraordinary behavior. Only Quentin's two references to the evening of Damuddy's funeral during his confrontation with Caddy ("do you remember the day damuddy died when you sat down in the water in your drawers" [p. 188] and "Caddy do you remember how Dilsey fussed at you because your drawers were muddy" [p. 189] seem to provide some meagre insight into Quentin's state of mind by recalling his childhood slapping of his sister when she attempted to remove her dress as well as the image of her muddied undergarments. That Caddy has violated Quentin's early-developed sense of maidenly virtue and modesty seems clear, but this oversimplification of Quentin's complex character undoubtedly was one of the reasons that Faulkner postponed the scene until considerably more amplification of Quentin's character could occur. Thus Faulkner could also preserve the climactic drama of the confrontation by revealing it late in the monologue; by positioning it early he must have been aware that the rest of the monologue could not help seeming anticlimactic.
Structurally, additional elements seem likely to have prompted the postponement of this key scene. Along the lines of Joyce's Ulysses, Benjy's monologue had traced a character's behavior and thought from morning to evening during the course of one apparently but not in actuality typical day in his life. The repetition of a similar pattern could not only greatly expand characterization possibilities for Quentin but could also provide a series of reflections and refractions of the events narrated by Benjy, thereby enhancing the work's novelistic unity in spite of its apparently so disparate narrators and narrative voices. Further, by withholding information about Quentin's first, unsuccessful suicide attempt until the reader can learn that June 2, 1910, is Quentin's last day and that the activities he pursues on that day are linked to the suicide which he commits later that evening, Faulkner creates a dramatic convergence of the past and present which Quentin finds increasingly difficult to separate.
Thus Faulkner recreated the structural pattern observed in Benjy's monologue. That is, Quentin's narrative no longer begins in medias res, but, like Benjy's and Jason's, it begins at the beginning, in the morning of a special day whose particular events will be presented in chronological sequence. Appropriately, Quentin will recall in flashback the twilight confrontation with Caddy and Ames on the evening of his last day on earth. Possibly after he wrestled with organizational strategy and decided finally to imitate the morning-afternoon-evening pattern of the novel's first section, the novel's last two sections presented Faulkner with fewer structural problems as well as with already established characters, themes, and conflict. With their increasingly lucid styles, in manuscript these two sections are even closer to the published text than are Benjy's and Quentin's monologues and display no major recasting or repositioning of material.
Nevertheless, after the completion of Jason's monologue, work on the novel may have been interrupted for approximately a month before Faulkner began the final section:
Similar accounts of the novel's having taken shape in "quarters" were often repeated in interviews late in Faulkner's career:
Faulkner surely must have realized well before completing
what came to be the novel's first section that the restrictions of Benjy's
idiocy and his resultant limited knowledge of events would ultimately render
him inadequate to tell this particular tale of sound and fury. Nevertheless,
when confronted with the difficulties of Quentin's monologue, those of
Benjy's seem at second glance far less rigorous. Ultimately, the unconventionality
of narrative technique in Benjy's monologue is neither chaotic nor absurd.
Quite the contrary, it is governed by rigid, although terribly literal,
rules of logic. Often beyond his control and understanding, a word, a phrase,
or an object triggers Benjy's memory, but these associational devices are
always readily visible. For the unwary, there are a few quagmires along
the way: confusion of names (two Quentins, two Jasons, two Maurys), or
the inadvertent omission of italics to signal a time transference to a
different scene, for example. Yet despite the apparent fragmentation of
Benjy's consciousness, he persistently returns to three major episodes:
Damuddy's funeral when he is around three; the evening his name is changed
from "Maury" to "Benjy" when he is five; the traumatic evening of Caddy's
wedding. Although his memory returns to each of these scenes at different
times throughout his monologue, it is important that the events involved
in each of these major episodes are nevertheless presented sequentially,
albeit in fragmented form.
Like all the bells that ever rang still ringing in the long dying light-rays and Jesus and Saint Francis talking about his sister. Because if it were just to hell; if that were all of it. Finished. If things just finished themselves. Nobody else there but her and me. If we could just have done something so dreadful that they would have fled hell except us. I have committed incest I said Father it was I it was not Dalton Ames And when he put Dalton Ames. Dalton Ames. Dalton Ames. When he put the pistol in my hand I didn't. That's why I didn't. He would be there and she would and I would. Dalton Ames. Dalton Ames. Dalton Ames. If we could have just done something so dreadful and Father said That's sad too, people cannot do anything that dreadful they cannot do anything very dreadful at all.... (pp. 97-98)
Dalton Ames. Dalton Ames. Dalton Shirts. I thought all the time they were khaki, army issue khaki, until I saw they were of heavy Chinese silk or finest flannel because they made his face so brown his eyes so blue. (p. 113)
Another group of passages added after the manuscript was completed pertain to Quentin's purchase of and subsequent thoughts about the two flat-irons. Faulkner apparently decided that stronger signals concerning Quentin's intention to kill himself at the end of his monologue were necessary to intensify the dramatic tension between the past and present throughout Quentin's stream of consciousness. Typical of such passages are:
The clerk said, "These weigh ten pounds." Only they were bigger than I thought. So I got two six-pound little ones, because they would look like a pair of shoes wrapped up. They felt heavy enough together, but I thought again how Father had said about the reducto absurdum of human experience, thinking how the only opportunity I seemed to have for the application of Harvard. Maybe by next year; thinking maybe it takes two years in school to learn to do that properly. (p. 105)
. . .the shadow of the package like two shoes wrapped up lying on the water. Niggers say a drowned man's shadow was watching for him in the water all the time. It twinkled and glinted, like breathing, the float slow like breathing too, and debris half submerged, healing out to the sea and the caverns and the grottoes of the sea. The displacement of water is equal to the something of something. Reducto absurdum of all human experiences and two six-pound flat-irons weigh more than one tailor's goose. What a sinful waste Dilsey would say.... (p. 111)
In three years I can not wear a hat. I could not. Was. Will there be hats then since I was not and not Harvard then. Where the best of thought Father said clings like dead ivy vines upon old dead brick. Not Harvard then. Not to me, anyway. Again. Sadder than was. Again. Saddest of all. Again. (pp. 117-18)
It ' s not not having them. It ' s never to have had them then I could say O That That's Chinese I dont know Chinese. And Father said it's because you are a virgin: dont you see? Women are never virgins. Purity is a negative state and therefore contrary to nature. It's nature is hurting you not Caddy and I said That's just words and he said So is virginity and I said you dont know. You cant know and he said Yes. On the instant when we come to realise that tragedy is second-hand. (p.143)
By contrast, and not surprisingly, given its less rigorous narrative structure, Jason's monologue exhibits comparatively little revision from manuscript to typescript to published text. Only two major additions exist. The first is the scene with Jason and Mrs. Compson where she burns the phony support check she believes is from Caddy (Vintage text 272.10-273.26). The second is the marvelous little exchange between Jason and Mac (Vintage text 314.01-314.27) where Jason stubbornly disparages the great Yankees team of 1928 and its star, Babe Ruth. The novel's fourth and closing section is even closer to the manuscript.
Paradoxically, the typescript is striking in two different ways. On one hand, this extremely complex novel is remarkably close to the manuscript, i.e., the bulk of the novel is present in the manuscript and, collectively, revisions made in the typescript and in later stages of the production of the novel are remarkably few given the complicated design of the novel. On the other hand, there is sufficient rewriting, reorganizing, and adding of material to support Faulkner's claim that he worked carefully with the novel--anguished over it--as he sorted out various problems in designating time, revealing character, clarifying plot, heightening images and themes.
Important as such concerns are, they were not the only points that absorbed Faulkner's attention. Perhaps more than any other of his novels, The Sound and the Fury shows Faulkner grappling with the crucial minutiae of spacing, punctuation, paragraph indentation, and italicization as he worked toward the unconventionality of Benjy's and Quentin's monologues. Again, however, as with the substantive revisions the third and fourth sections presented virtually no problems in comparison to the novel's first two monologues. Despite his efforts, despite his tinkering with these details virtually until the actual printing of the book, considerable inconsistency and a minor number of demonstrable errors are displayed. Hence, again, we can speculate that Faulkner's comments about anguishing over the novel and his sense of having failed to achieve a desired end--"the most gallant, the most magnificent failure"63--reflect in part his dissatisfaction with the details of its presentation. Meriwether notes that Faulkner's concern about printing the novel was expressed in a proposal to Ben Wasson and Harrison Smith that parts of the sections be printed in inks of different colors.64 In the absence of such a possibility, Faulkner used other tools more readily at his disposal and experimented with them.
For instance, Faulkner experimented with punctuation almost to the actual printing of the book.65 Although the manuscript is consistent in its use of traditional punctuation except in Quentin's section, where some experimentation occurs, the typescript is inconsistent in its use of non traditional punctuation and contains many passages that are punctuated conventionally. However, a number of unusual changes appear (although again not with complete consistency) in the published book, thus suggesting that: perhaps as late as galleys or page proofs Faulkner was still experimenting, especially with the intricacies of Benjy's section and the complexities of utilizing such a character as first-person narrator, with the end punctuation of direct address and the punctuation of speaker identification tags when they interrupt direct address. Faulkner eventually evolved a system of punctuating all spoken discourse in Benjy's monologue with periods, rather than other kinds of end punctuation, including commas, exclamation points, or question marks, as a technique for establishing the limits of Benjy's comprehension.
Benjy records all spoken discourse literally, without understanding its meaning or differentiating among vocal inflections and interrogatory, declarative, and imperative sentences. However, since Faulkner evolved this method of punctuating unconventionally with periods terminating all spoken discourse only after completing the typescript, it seems likely that implementation would have been left to editorial hands, and thus we may perhaps account for its considerable inconsistency in the published text.66 In addition, the typesetters, already challenged by a difficult text, and confronted with others of Faulkner's unusual but generally consistent practices (omitting apostrophes in words like "dont" and "cant" or periods after "Mr" and "Mrs") may have followed setting copy inconsistently and further complicated matters.
Ben Wasson's tampering with the text (presumably copy editing Faulkner's ribbon typescript before it went to the printer) has been well established.67 Wasson questioned Faulkner's use of italics, and although Faulkner vigorously defended it, a comparison of the manuscript, typescript, and published book makes clear that he changed italicized passages extensively and added italics heavily when he read proof. Italics were used initially to signal what Faulkner called a "transference" from one point in time to another.68 They may signal the beginning of a flashback, or they may signal a return from the past to a different time level, which is frequently but not always the novel's narrative present (April 1928). On other occasions, italics are used to indicate "a speech by one person within a speech by another," which led Faulkner to speculate that his "use of italics has been too without definite plan" but was adopted to perform this last function to avoid clumsy paragraphs.69 Wasson suggested that Faulkner use new breaks--extra spaces--between paragraphs instead of italics, a suggestion which Faulkner emphatically rejected, although a printer's sample octave gathering, including the first fourteen pages of The Sound and the Fury, was printed adopting Wasson's rather than Faulkner's method.70 The romanization of italicized passages, the italicization of roman passages, and the general addition of new italicized passages are extensive. Therefore, it is not surprising that in Benjy's monologue in four instances italics were inadvertently omitted.71
Critics have long been aware that additional revision occurred between the extant carbon typescript and the published book. The ribbon typescript, which presumably served as setting copy, the galleys, and the page proofs have apparently not survived. However, some new light is shed on those revisions by a forty-one-page ribbon typescript and two leaves of Faulkner's requests for revisions on pages not contained within the first forty-one. This typescript of irregularly numbered pages from Quentin's monologue has only recently surfaced, purchased in November 1975 from J. Periam Danton by the University of Virginia Library.72
We can only speculate as to the timetable of Faulkner's revision of these forty-one pages. The typescript contains no printer's marks, thus Faulkner must have decided to make the revisions after copy editing but before type was set for the novel's second section. Arriving in New York in late September 1928, Faulkner completed typing the manuscript in Greenwich Village in October 1928 according to the date on the final page of the typescript. He returned to Mississippi in December without having had a definite acceptance from Harcourt, Brace. In a letter dated February 15, 1929, however, Alfred Harcourt rejected the novel, which Harrison Smith subsequently took with him when he entered into partnership with Jonathan Cape. Copies of the contract for publication were executed on February 18, 1929, and it is unlikely although not impossible that the typescript was copy-edited much before this date. Galley proofs were sent to Faulkner in early July 1929, in Pascagoula, Mississippi, where he was honeymooning. Thus it is probable that sometime in that four-and-a-half-month period Faulkner must have revised the Quentin section and substituted forty-one retyped pages for the pages already at Cape & Smith. These revisions were probably made before Faulkner's wedding on June 20, 1929, but it is possible that they were made as early as December 1928 or January 1929, when Faulkner would presumably have had a good idea that Cape & Smith was going to publish The Sound and the Fury but before February 1929, by which time he was writing Sanctuary.73 However, whether Faulkner wrote Cape & Smith from Mississippi requesting that the pages be substituted or whether he made the revisions while he was in New York in November and December 1928 (although in light of the above chronology the former seems far more likely)74 as well as when he made these revisions is impossible to say with absolute certainty in the absence of further evidence.
Apparently, Faulkner remained dissatisfied with Quentin's monologue and decided at a relatively late date that it required additional revision. The underlying motivation for these revisions seems to have been Faulkner's determination that his use of double or triple spaces to designate shifts in the narrative time level was not sufficient to guide his readers through the complexities of Quentin's monologue. Most, although not all, of the rejected pages employ this spacing device. In the rewritten pages (whose ribbon copies evidently were reunited with the original ribbon typescript that served as setting copy and whose carbons were included in the bound carbon typescript Faulkner preserved for himself), Faulkner substituted paragraph indentations and added more italicized phrases as the vehicle by which greater clarity in designating the time shifts could be achieved. Considerable stylistic polishing occurs: tightening for clarity and precision; expanding passages slightly for accuracy; deleting overblown, overwitten phrases or passages; revising punctuation to make it more traditional, especially insofar as designating word groups to facilitate the reader Is following Quentin's stream of consciousness; and intensifying Mr. Compson's presence. The two pages of additional corrections contain requests for changes that occur largely at beginnings of pages immediately following rewritten ones where changes became necessary in light of the revisions. By far the second largest area of concern in these two sheets is the request to italicize twelve passages and to delete italics in two others.
The novel was published October 7, 1929. The generally
favorable reviews75 must have been some compensation for the anguish of
Faulkner's labors as well as confirmation of his exuberant sense that he
had not only learned to read but to write. If Faulkner would emerge from
behind his closed door as master rather than as apprentice, however, the
Compson story was not yet exhausted. Throughout the remainder of Faulkner's
long career it would remain firmly linked with demanding, innovative works
in which Faulkner continued to experiment with point of view, from Absalom,
Absalom! (1936) to Go Down, Moses (1942), where in a
typescript of "The Old People" Quentin Compson is the character who later
becomes Ike McCaslin.
1. James B. Meriwether, "The Textual History of The Sound and the Fury" in The Merrill Studies in The Sound and the Fury, comp. James B. Meriwether (Columbus, Ohio: Charles E. Merrill, 1970), p. 5. This important article first brought together much of-the information about the publication of the novel and I have drawn on it throughout this essay.
2. Faulkner in the University: Class Conferences at the University of Virginia 1957-1958, ed. Frederick L. Gwynn and Joseph L. Blotner (New York: Vintage, 1965), p. 61.
3. Selected Letters of William Faulkner, ed. Joseph Blotner (New York: Random House, 1977), p. 39.
4. Selected Letters, p. 38. For additional information pertaining to the publication of Flags in the Dust see George: F. Hayhoe, "William Faulkner's Flags in the Dust, " Mississippi Quarterly, 28 (Summer 1975), 370-86.
5. Hayhoe, "William Faulkner's Flags in the Dust, " pp. 370-74.
6. James B. Meriwether, ed., "An Introduction to The Sound and the Fury," Mississippi Quarterly, 26 (Summer 1973), 412
7. "Introduction" to the Modern Library issue of Sanctuary (1932), in Essays, Speeches and Public Letters, ed . James B. Meriwether (New York: Random House, 1965), p. 177.
8. Selected Letters, p . 236 .
9. "An Introduction to The Sound and the Fury," p. 414.
10. Selected letters, p. 43 .
11. See "The Preface to The Sound and the Fury" by Maurice Coindreau in The Time of William Faulkner: A French View of Modern American Fiction, ed. and trans. George M. Reeves (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1971), p. 49.
12. Interview with Jean Stein vanden Heuvel in 1956 in Lion in the Garden: Interviews with William Faulkner, 1926-1962, ed. James: B. Meriwether and Michael Millgate (New York: Random House, 1968), p. 239.
13. In Faulkner in the University , p . 103, Faulkner commented that "the writer has three sources, imagination, observation, and experience ... he uses his material from the three sources as a carpenter reaches into his lumber room and finds a board that fits that particular corner he's building."
14. James B. Meriwether, ed., "An Introduction for The Sound and the Fury," Southern Review, N. S. 8 (Autumn 1972), 708. For a fuller discussion of the significance of this statement see Andre Bleikasten, The Most Splendid Failure: Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1976), pp. 44-47.
15. The best treatment to date of the relationships of Faulkner's first three novels to his fourth is in Bleikasten, The Most Splendid Failure, pp. 3-42.
16. For an expanded discussion of the significance of key works from Faulkner's apprenticeship to the novel, see Gail M. Morrison, "William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury: A Critical and Textual Study," Diss. University of South Carolina, 1980, pp. 1-64.
17. These sketches have until recently been most readily available in Carvel Collins, New Orleans Sketches (New York: Random House, 1968). However, a soon-to-be-published University of South Carolina dissertation by Leland H. Cox, Jr., "Sinbad in New Orleans: Early Short Fiction by William Faulkner--An Annotated Edition" 1976), should be consulted for its detailed introduction as well as for its annotations. Both Collins and Cox point out similarities: among the works under discussion here.
18. Collins, New Orleans Sketches, p . 47.
19. "The Priest," ed. James B. Meriwether, Mississippi Quarterly, 30 (Summer 1976), 445-50.
20. William Faulkner, "Adolescent" in Uncollected Stories, ed. Joseph Blotner (New York: Random House,1979), p. 460. In his biography, Faulkner: A Biography, 2 vols. (New York: Random House, 1974), Joseph Blotner provides a plot summary of this sketch and states that it "may have been written" around 1922 (pp. 333-34). Michael Millgate in The Achievement of William Faulkner, New York: Vintage, 1971) discusses briefly the relationship of "Adolescence" to "Elmer" and As I Lay Dying pp. 11 and 12.
21. "Adolescence," p. 472.
22. William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (New York: Vintage, 1963), pp. 382, 384. Subsequent quotations from the novel will be indicated parenthetically in the text.
23. Blotner states that Faulkner remembered writing "The Devil Beats His Wife" shortly after his return from Europe in December 1925 (I, 491). Although Faulkner's memory for dates was not always accurate, he did remember sequences of events accurately. It is interesting to note that the first page is in the form of dialogue in a play and thus indicates Faulkner's early interest in a form later used in Requiem for a Nun (New York: Random House, 1951). This fragment is located in the William Faulkner Foundation Collection of the University of Virginia Library.
24. "Nympholepsy," ed. James B. Meriwether, Mississippi Quarterly, 26 (Summer 1973), 403-9.
25. This story was submitted for publication to Bennett Cerf at Random House. For a thorough discussion of the Elmer materials, see Thomas McHaney, "The Elmer Papers: Faulkner's Comic Portraits of the Artist," Mississippi Quarterly, 26 (Summer 1973), 281-311.
26. See, for instance, Lewis P. Simpson, "Faulkner and the Legend of the Artist" in Faulkner : Fifty Years After the Marble Faun , ed. George H. Wolfe (University: University of Alabama Press, 1976), and Jackson J. Benson, "Quentin Compson: Self Portrait of a Young Artist's Emotions," Twentieth Century Literature, 17 (July 1971), 143-59.
27. "Elmer," p. 5. This typescript is in the William Faulkner Foundation Collection of the Alderman Library of the University of Virginia.
28. For a more detailed discussion of the relationship of Mayday to The Sound and the Fury, see Gail M. Morrison, "Time, Tide, and Twilight: Mayday and Faulkner's Quest Toward The Sound and the Fury, " Mississippi Quarterly, 31 (Summer 1978), 337-57.
29. William Faulkner, The Marionettes: A Play in One Act : ([Charlottesville:] The Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia and the University Press of Virginia, 1975), pp. 11 and 12. See also Noel Polk, "Introduction" to The Marionettes. Charlottesville: The Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia and The University Press of Virginia, 1977 for discussion of the structural devices experimented with in this work.
30. Although this work has been published (New York: Random House, 1967), I have quoted from the seventy-one-pagebound manuscript in the Alderman Library at the University of Virginia since the published text contains a number of silent emendations. These will be indicated parenthetically in the text. Blotner incorrectly states that Faulkner initially composed The Wishing Tree for Victoria (I, 1718-19); however, he cites a letter from Faulkner to Harold Ober (February 4, 1959) in which Faulkner stated that he "invented this story for Mrs Brown's daughter, about ten at the time, who was dying of cancer" (II, 1718-19; Selected Letters, p. 421). Although actual dates of the gift giving may have been such that Victoria received her copy before Margaret did, references in the typescript inscribed to Margaret to Sir Galwyn and Mayday (which do not appear in Victoria's copy) suggest that Margaret's is the earlier of the two typescripts.
31. See Boyd Davis, "Caddy Compson's Eden, " Mississippi Quarterly, 30 (Summer 1977), 381-94.
32. See Morrison, "William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury: A Critical and Textual Study," pp. 47-56, for a more extended discussion of the parallels between the novel and the fable.
33. Lion in the Garden, p. 146.
34. The "Father Abraham" manuscript is in the Arents Collection of the New York Public Library.
35. This fragment is in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library.
36. "An Introduction for The Sound and the Fury, " p. 710.
37. Faulkner in the University, p . 6. Heathcliff calls Cathy his "heart's darling" in Bronte, Wuthering Heights (1847; rpt. New York: Modern Library, 1926), p. 33.
38. Lion in the Garden, p. 146.
39. Selected Letters, p. 34.
40. The claims for a 1925 date are advanced in Carvel Collins, "Faulkner's Mayday" in Mayday ([South Bend, Ind.:] University of Notre Dame Press, 1977), p. 19. This afterword has become the "Introduction" (and is slightly expanded) in the trade edition (South Bend, Ind. University of Notre Dame Press, 1980), pp. 23-26.
41. "Introduction" to the Modern Library issue of Sanctuary, 19 3 2), in Essays, Speeches and Public Letters, pp. 176-77.
42. Lion in the Garden, p. 55.
43. Selected Letters, p. 39.
44. Selected Letters, p. 40.
45. Selected Letters, p. 41.
46. The manuscript is located in the Beinecke Library at Yale University. "That Evening Sun Go Down" was published in American Mercury, 22 (March 1931), and revised for inclusion in Collected Stories (New York: Random House, 1950) as "That Evening Sun."
47. Blotner, I, 566-67. Blotner equates this image with the funeral of Faulkner's grandmother, also called Damuddy, on June 2, 1907.
48. Selected Letters, p. 43; Blotner, I, 602-3; Meriwether, "The Textual History of The Sound and the Fury, " pp. 8-9.
49. See Meriwether, "The Textual History of The Sound and the Fury , " pp. 9-15 for details pertaining to Wasson's copy editing.
50. The Making of William Faulkner s Books 1929-1937: An Interview with Evelyn Harter Glick, ed. James B. Meriwether (Columbia: Southern Studies Program, University of South Carolina, 1979), p. 4. Mrs. Click was in-charge of production and design at Cape & Smith and notes that "I came in when The Sound and the Fury was already in the works. Bob Ballou had planned it, and I carried through on it. Then I went on to the others. As I Lay Dying was my first. But Bob had done the whole job on The Sound and the Fury."
51. Meriwether, "The Textual History of The Sound and the Fury, " p. 13.
52. Faulkner in the University, p. 61.
53. "An Introduction for The Sound and the Fury, " p. 710.
54. Meriwether, "The Textual History of The Sound and the Fury, " p. 6. The only "notes" that have been preserved are a sheet entitled "Twilight" which lists birth , death, and marriage dates for many of the novel's characters, some of: which do not conform to internal evidence provided within the novel. Blotner (I, 572) has reproduced these notes.
55. "An Introduction to The Sound and the Fury," p. 415.
56. Lion in the Garden, p. 222. See also pp. 147 and 245.
57. Millgate, The Achievement of William Faulkner, p. 9 0.
58. Millgate, The Achievement of William Faulkner, p. 92·
59. Passages from the published text such as 17.19-17. 24, 18.27-19.15; 23.12-23.13; 60.02-61.08; 73.08-73.13 are among the many added in typescript.
60. Millgate, The Achievement of William Faulkner, p. 93.
61. Millgate, The Achievement
of William Faulkner, p. 95.