William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying

As I lay DyingAs I Lay Dying is Faulkner’s fifth novel published in 1930. Most of the 59 chapters are short and are narrated by 15 different characters in a stream of consciousness writing technique. He wrote it in six weeks and didn’t change a word of it. It’s considered one of the best novels of 20th-century literature.

Addie, the mother in a poor family, requested that when she dies, she wants to be buried in her hometown of Jefferson, Mississippi, a trek in a wagon pulled by mules. Her husband and five adult children try to honor her wishes but run into several difficulties. Previously I was not a fan of Faulkner’s style, but after reading Intruder in the Dust, I was hooked. I couldn’t stop reading As I Lay Dying although I had many projects to do, I had to find out what would happen next.

In the chapter from Addie’s point of view in a flashback, she says her father used to say that “the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time.” Readers learn about her unhappiness with her life. She’s tired of taking care of the family. She regrets choosing Anse for her husband.

Faulkner created a memorable family. I recommend taking time to meet them.


Filed under Book Recommendations

4 responses to “William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying

  1. Gary Lea

    Definitely a good read and your commentary brought a lot back to me (I read it in 1963). I may have to read it again. I told my roommate at the time (USAF) what a great read it was and encouraged him to read it. He couldn’t get past the first chapter, complaining that he couldn’t understand it.


  2. ladywinfred

    I’ve been carrying around a whole stack of vintage Faulkner books for years, saying someday I must/want to sit down and explore this genius mind. Maybe I should make that someday now, while I still can. Thanks for the nudge, Juliana.


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