|Genre||Modernist, southern gothic, black comedy|
|Preceded by||The Sound and the Fury|
As I Lay Dying is a 1930 Southern Gothicnovel by American author William Faulkner. Faulkner's fifth novel, it is consistently ranked among the best novels of 20th-century literature. The title derives from Book XI of Homer's Odyssey (William Marris's 1925 translation), wherein Agamemnon tells Odysseus, "As I lay dying, the woman with the dog's eyes would not close my eyes as I descended into Hades."
The novel utilizes stream-of-consciousness writing technique, multiple narrators, and varying chapter lengths.
The book is narrated by 15 different characters over 59 chapters. It is the story of the death of Addie Bundren and her poor, rural family's quest and motivations—noble or selfish—to honor her wish to be buried in her hometown of Jefferson, Mississippi.
In the novel's first chapters, Addie is alive but in ill health. She expects to die soon and sits at a window watching as her firstborn child, Cash, builds her coffin. Anse, Addie's husband, waits on the porch, while their daughter, Dewey Dell, fans her mother in the July heat. The night after Addie dies a heavy rainstorm sets in; rivers rise and wash out bridges that the family will need to cross to get to Jefferson.
The family's trek by wagon begins, with Addie's non-embalmed body in the coffin. Along the way, Anse and the five children encounter various difficulties. Stubborn Anse frequently rejects any offers of assistance, including meals or lodging, so at times the family goes hungry and sleeps in barns. At other times he refuses to accept loans from people, claiming he wishes to "be beholden to no man," thus manipulating the would-be lender into giving him charity as a gift not to be repaid.
Jewel, Addie's middle child, tries to leave his dysfunctional family after Anse sells Jewel's most prized possession, his horse, yet Jewel cannot turn his back on them through the tribulations of the journey to Jefferson. Cash breaks a leg and winds up riding atop the coffin. He stoically refuses to admit to any discomfort, but the family eventually puts a makeshift cast of concrete on his leg. Twice, the family almost loses Addie's coffin—first, while crossing a river on a washed-out bridge (two mules are lost), and second, when a fire of suspicious origin starts in the barn where the coffin is being stored for a night.
After nine days, the family finally arrives in Jefferson, where the stench from the coffin is quickly smelled by the townspeople. In town, family members have different items of business to take care of. Cash's broken leg needs attention. Dewey Dell, for the second time in the novel, goes to a pharmacy, in an effort to obtain an abortion that she does not know how to ask for; clerk Skeet MacGowan coerces her into sex in the cellar in exchange for "abortion pills" which are just talcum powder. First, though, Anse wants to borrow some shovels to bury Addie, because that was the purpose of the trip and the family should be together for that. Before that happens, Darl, the second eldest and thoughtful, poetic observer of the family, is seized for the arson of the barn and sent to the Mississippi State Insane Asylum in Jackson.With Addie only just buried, Anse forces Dewey Dell to give up her money given to her by Lafe (the man who got her pregnant) for an abortion, which he spends on getting "new teeth," and quickly marries the woman from whom he borrowed the shovels.
As are many of Faulkner's works, the story is set in Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, which Faulkner referred to as "my apocryphal county," a fictional rendition of the writer's home of Lafayette County in the same state.
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Faulkner said that he wrote the novel from midnight to 4:00 a.m. over the course of six weeks and that he did not change a word of it.Faulkner wrote it while working at a power plant.
Throughout the novel, Faulkner presents 15 different points of view, each chapter narrated by one character, including Addie, who expresses her thoughts after she has already died. In 59 chapters titled only by their narrators' names, the characters are developed gradually through each other's perceptions and opinions, with Darl's predominating.
As I Lay Dying helped to solidify Faulkner's reputation as a pioneer, like James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, of stream of consciousness. He first used the technique in The Sound and the Fury , and it gives As I Lay Dying its distinctly intimate tone, through the monologues of the Bundrens and the passers-by whom they encounter. Faulkner manipulates conventional differences between stream of consciousness and interior monologue. For example, Faulkner has a character such as Darl speak in an interior monologue with far more intellectual diction (and knowledge of his physical environment) than he realistically possesses. This represents an innovation on conventions of interior monologues; as Dorrit Cohn states in Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction, the language in an interior monologue is "like the language a character speaks to others ... it accords with his time, his place, his social station, level of intelligence ..." The novel represents an early progenitor of the Southern Renaissance, reflecting on being, existence, and other existential metaphysics of everyday life.
As I Lay Dying is consistently ranked among the best novels of 20th-century literature.The novel has been reprinted by the Modern Library, the Library of America, and numerous publishers, including Chatto and Windus in 1970, Random House in 1990, Tandem Library in 1991, Vintage Books in 1996, and the Folio Society in 2013. Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949 for his novels prior to that date, with this book being among them.
The novel has also directly influenced a number of other critically acclaimed books, including British author Graham Swift's 1996 Booker Prize-winning novel Last Ordersand Suzan-Lori Parks's Getting Mother's Body, and Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing .
In 1998, the Modern Library ranked As I Lay Dying 35th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
The Grammy-nominated metalcore band As I Lay Dying derived its name from the novel.
The character of Darl Bundren later appeared in Faulkner's 1935 short story Uncle Willy.[ citation needed ]
An adaptation of the novel by Edward Kemp was staged by the Young Vic company in May 1998.
William Cuthbert Faulkner was an American writer known for his novels and short stories set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, based on Lafayette County, Mississippi, where Faulkner spent most of his life. Faulkner is one of the most celebrated writers of American literature, and is widely considered one of the best writers of Southern literature.
Light in August is a 1932 novel by the Southern American author William Faulkner. It belongs to the Southern gothic and modernist literary genres.
The Sound and the Fury is a novel by the American author William Faulkner. It employs several narrative styles, including stream of consciousness. Published in 1929, The Sound and the Fury was Faulkner's fourth novel, and was not immediately successful. In 1931, however, when Faulkner's sixth novel, Sanctuary, was published—a sensationalist story, which Faulkner later said was written only for money—The Sound and the Fury also became commercially successful, and Faulkner began to receive critical attention.
Yoknapatawpha County is a fictional Mississippi county created by the American author William Faulkner, largely based upon and inspired by Lafayette County, Mississippi, and its county seat of Oxford. Faulkner often referred to Yoknapatawpha County as "my apocryphal county".
Louis Grenier is a fictional character in William Faulkner's novels and stories.
Sartoris is a novel, first published in 1929, by the American author William Faulkner. It portrays the decay of the Mississippi aristocracy following the social upheaval of the American Civil War. The 1929 edition is an abridged version of Faulkner's original work. The full text was published in 1973 as Flags in the Dust. Faulkner's great-grandfather William Clark Falkner, himself a colonel in the American Civil War, served as the model for Colonel John Sartoris. Faulkner also fashioned other characters in the book on local people from his hometown Oxford. His friend Ben Wasson was the model for Horace Benbow, while Faulkner's brother Murry served as the antetype for young Bayard Sartoris.
Billy Bathgate is a 1989 novel by author E. L. Doctorow that won the 1989 National Book Critics Circle award for fiction for 1990, the 1990 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 1990 William Dean Howells Medal, and was the runner-up for the 1990 Pulitzer Prize and the 1989 National Book Award.
If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem is a novel by the American author William Faulkner published in 1939. The novel was originally published under the title The Wild Palms, which is the title of one of the two interwoven stories. This title was chosen by the publishers, Random House, over the objections of Faulkner's choice of a title. Subsequent editions have since been printed under the title If I Forget Thee Jerusalem, and since 2003 it is now usually referred to by both names, with the newer title following the historically first published title and in brackets, to avoid confusion: The Wild Palms [If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem].
Go Down, Moses is a 1942 collection of seven related pieces of short fiction by American author William Faulkner, sometimes considered a novel. The most prominent character and unifying voice is that of Isaac McCaslin, "Uncle Ike", who will live to be an old man; "uncle to half a county and father to no one". Though originally published as a short story collection, Faulkner considered the book to be a novel in the same way The Unvanquished is considered a novel. Because of this, most editions no longer print "and other stories" in the title.
Intruder in the Dust is a novel about an African American farmer accused of murdering a Caucasian man. Nobel Prize–winning American author William Faulkner published it in 1948.
Mary Lee Settle was an American writer.
The Hamlet is a novel by the American author William Faulkner, published in 1940, about the fictional Snopes family of Mississippi. Originally a standalone novel, it was later followed by The Town (1957), and The Mansion (1959), forming the "Snopes trilogy."
The Mansion is a novel by the American author William Faulkner, published in 1959. It is the last in a trilogy of books about the fictional Snopes family of Mississippi, following The Hamlet and The Town.
Flags in the Dust is a novel by the American author William Faulkner, completed in 1927. His publisher heavily edited the manuscript with Faulkner's reluctant consent, removing about 40,000 words in the process. That version was published as Sartoris in 1929. Faulkner's original manuscript of Flags in the Dust was published in 1973, and Sartoris was subsequently taken out of print.
Addie is a given name, nickname and surname. It may refer to:
Salem Falls (2001) is the eighth novel by the American author Jodi Picoult. The novel explores what happens to a person (Jack) when he is given a label and is not allowed to escape from it.
"Spotted Horses" is a novella written by William Faulkner and originally published in Scribner's magazine in 1931. It includes the character Flem Snopes, who appears in much of Faulkner's work, and tells in ambiguous terms of his backhand profiteering with an honest Texan selling untamed ponies. Spotted Horses was later incorporated into The Hamlet under the title "The Peasants: Chapter One". It features V.K Ratliff who appears in other Faulkner short stories and is a prominent character in The Hamlet, The Town and The Mansion.
Vardaman can refer to:
As I Lay Dying is a 2013 American drama film directed and co-written by and starring James Franco, based on William Faulkner's 1930 novel of the same name. The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard Section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
Knight’s Gambit is a 1949 short story collection by the American author William Faulkner, and contains a short story of the same name. The book collects six of Faulkner’s stories about attorney Gavin Stevens, who also takes a leading part in his novel Intruder in the Dust.