As I Lay Dying

ISBN-10: 0393931382
ISBN-13: 9780393931389
Edition: 2010
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List Price: $18.02
Copyright Year: 2010
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated
Publication Date: 12/4/2009
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 397
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.078
Language: English

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Born in an old Mississippi family, William Faulkner made his home in Oxford, seat of the University of Mississippi. After the fifth grade he went to school only off and on-lived, read, and wrote much as he pleased. In 1918, refusing to enlist with the "Yankees," he joined the Canadian Air Force, and was transferred to the British Royal Air Force. After the war he studied a little at the University, did house painting, worked as a night superintendent at a power plant, went to New Orleans and became a friend of Sherwood Anderson, then to Europe and back home to Oxford. By this time he had written two novels. The Sound and the Fury followed in 1929. Financial success came with Sanctuary in 1931, which he assisted in filming. Faulkner 's novels are intense in their character portrayals of disintegrating Southern aristocrats, poor whites, and African Americans. A complex stream-of-consciousness rhetoric often involves Faulkner in lengthy sentences of anguished power. Most of his tales are set in the mythical Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, and are characterized by the use of many recurring characters from families of different social levels spanning more than a century. His best subjects are the old, dying South and the newer materialistic South. As I Lay Dying (1930), is a grotesquely tragicomic story about a family of poor southern whites. With Absalom, Absalom! (1936); the difficult parts of his famous short novel "The Bear" (published in Go Down, Moses, 1942); and the allegorical A Fable (1954), a non-Yoknapatawpha novel set in France during World War I; Faulkner returned to an innovative and difficult style that most readers have trouble with. Yet, interspersed among such works are collections of easily read stories originally published in popular magazines. There seems to be a growing sentiment among critics that the Snopes trilogy-The Hamlet (1940), The Town (1957), and The Mansion (1959)-for the most part an example of Faulkner's "moderate" style, could well be among his most important works. Faulkner was awarded the 1949 Nobel Prize for literature "for his powerful and artistically independent contribution to the new American novel," but it would appear now that he also deserved to win that honor for his contribution to world literature. When reporting his death, the Boston Globe quoted Faulkner's having once told an interviewer: "Since man is mortal, the only immortality for him is to leave something behind him that is immortal since it will always move. That is the artist's way of scribbling "Kilroy was here" on the wall of the final and irrevocable oblivion through which he must some day pass." In addition to the Nobel Prize, Faulkner received the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1950, and in 1951 he was given the National Book Award for his Collected Stories Collected Stories. For his novel A Fable he received the National Book Award for the second time, as well as the Pulitzer Prize in 1955. The Reivers (1962) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1963. In 1957 and 1958, he was the University of Virginia's first writer-in-residence, and in January 1959 he accepted an appointment as consultant on contemporary literature to the Alderman Library of that university. Although Faulkner was not without honors in his lifetime and has received world recognition since then, it is surprising to learn that, when Malcolm Cowley edited The Portable Faulkner in 1946, he found that almost all of Faulkner's books were out of print. By arranging selections from the works to form a continuous chronicle, Cowley deserves much of the credit for making readers aware of the way in which Faulkner was creating a fictive world on a scale grander than that of any novelist since Balzac. William Faulkner died in Oxford, Mississippi, in 1962.

Michael Gorra teaches English at Smith College. His books include After Empire, The Bells in Their Silence, and, as editor, the Norton Critical Edition of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Note on the Text
The Text of As I Lay Dying
Backgrounds and Contexts
Contemporary Reception
Beside Addie's Coffin
Literature and Less
Morbidity in Fiction
A Troubled Vision
The School of Cruelty
William Faulkner
"Preface" to Tandis que j'agonise
From New Novels
The Writer and His Work
As I Lay Dying
Introduction to the Modern Library edition of Sanctuary
An Introduction for The Sound and the Fury
Address upon Receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature
The Paris Review Interview
Class Conferences at the University of Virginia
Jefferson, Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi [Map]
Sample pages from the manuscript and carbon typescript of As I Lay Dying
Cultural Context
The Russian Realists and Southern Literature
Benighted South
The Hind Tit
The Gudger House
From Pills, Petticoats and Plows: The Southern Country Store
Thirty-Sixth Biennial Report of the Mississippi State Insane Hospital, Jackson, Mississippi. From July 1, 1925 to June 30, 1927
The Dimension of Consciousness
Odyssey of the Bundrens
Pride and Nakedness: As I Lay Dying
The Setting
Death, Grief, Analogous Form: As I Lay Dying
Mimetic Voice
Matricide and the Mother's Revenge: As I Lay Dying
Between the Family and the State: Nomadism and Authority in As I Lay Dying
A Southern Carnival
Addie in No Man's Land
"By It I Would Stand or Fall": Life and Death in As I Lay Dying
A Chronology
Selected Bibliography

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