As I Lay Dying

As I Lay Dying

Book - 1964
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One of William Faulkner's finest novels, As I Lay Dying was originally published in 1930, and remains a captivating and stylistically innovative work. The story revolves around a grim yet darkly humorous pilgrimage, as Addie Bundren's family sets out to fulfill her last wish: to be buried in her native Jefferson, Mississippi, far from the miserable backwater surroundings of her married life. Told through multiple voices, it vividly brings to life Faulkner's imaginary South, one of the great invented landscapes in all of literature, and is replete with the poignant, impoverished, violent, and hypnotically fascinating characters that were his trademark. This edition reproduces the corrected text of As I Lay Dying as established in 1985 by Noel Polk.
Publisher: New York, Random House [1964, c1957]
ISBN: 9780394415819


From Library Staff

I like the format: each chapter the POV of one of the characters.

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CMLibrary_DJeffrey Apr 08, 2021

Like if Little Miss Sunshine was a little less funny.

Nov 29, 2020

We do not usually think of farmers as heroes, or leaving on a treacherous journey to complete an important task. However, the Southern Gothic novel As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner defies these notions as it tells the story of the rag-tag Bundren family as they make a long trek to the town of Jefferson to bury their mother in her birthplace. While it seems as though the family is doing it for altruistic reasons, the majority of the Bundren family hold ulterior motives in their minds. As a result, their mother’s death is often far from their mind as they battle with their own personal struggles. Lies and secrets run rampant, clearly as a result of the lack of communication in this convoluted family dynamic. Each character is able to express their thoughts, and many important themes are seen in this novel.

This is definitely an interesting read that veers from the norm, most prominently because there are about fourteen different narrators, both from members of the family as well as outsiders observing the family. Furthermore, the deceased mother herself is able to narrate a chapter, so the reader is able to truly understand her emotions and feelings towards her family before her passing. The majority of the characters are rather unlikeable due to their lack of compassion and selfishness, but they are important in that they reveal the various ways death is processed. Many of the characters ultimately suffer in their own way, and it may take a lot of analysis and insight to truly understand the novel.

I would not recommend this novel to a younger audience, for it covers a variety of mature topics such as abortion, depression, and death. It is also not a light-hearted novel, but a rather dark one. Also, it can be difficult to read as a result of the varying dialects and the bad grammar of a Southern family in poverty in the 1800s. However, overall it is a great novel for the analysis of a broken family and can help to understand the uglier aspects of the human nature.

Age rating: 16+
Star rating: 4 stars

Feb 28, 2020

"Then we see it wasn't the grip that made him look different; it was his face, and Jewel says, 'He got them teeth.'/ It was a fact. It made him look a foot taller, kind of holding his head up, hangdog and proud, too, and then we see her behind him, carrying the other grip---a kind of duck-shaped woman all dressed up, with them kind of hardlooking pop eyes like she was daring a man to say nothing. And there we set watching them, with Dewey Dell's and Vardaman's mouth half open and half-et bananas in their hands and her coming around from behind pa, looking at us like she dared ere a man. And then i see that the grip she was carrying is one of them little gramophones. It was for a fact, all shut up as pretty as a picture, and everytime a new record would come from the mail order and us setting in the house in the winter, listening to it, I would think what a shame Darl couldn't be to enjoy it too. But it better so for him. This world is not his world; this life his life./ 'It's Cash and Jewel and Vardaman and Dewey Dell ', pa says, kind of hangdog and proud too, with his teeth and all, even if he wouldn't look at us. ' Meet Mrs Bundren' , he says."

HCL_featured Sep 19, 2018

"Challenged, but retained, in the Carroll County, MD schools (1991). Two school board members were concerned about the book's coarse language and dialect. Banned at Central High School in Louisville, KY (1994) temporarily because the book uses profanity and questions the existence of God." from American Library Association

Mar 26, 2018

These characters certainly suffered- more than their share- so they deserve our sympathy. Did Faulkner betray them all- leave them sitting on the wagon with their mouths open like the butt of a bad joke- just so he could write that smart-aleky last paragraph?

Mar 23, 2018

What a strange book. I'm really struggling to get through it but it's on my to read list so I'm persevering. What language are they speaking? Certainly not English.

Nov 23, 2015

A rather difficult book to read; it requires several rereadings to understand due to the way the narrative unfolds through the use of a dozen or so characters, some of them really odd, like Vardaman, a retarded/crazy/mystic man. The heart of the book is Addie, the dead matriarch. Her segment of the narrative is helpful in understanding why things are happening and the style is weirdly mesmerizing. The mesmerizing/ mystic strain to some of the writing only peeps through in other parts, but in hers its pervasive. Sorting out the plot is the hardest aspect of the book for the reader.

Jun 11, 2015

Despite being on many different top 100 reading lists, I found "As I Lay Dying" deeply lacking in character development.

Jul 08, 2014

A difficult read but a worthy anodyne to the pablum that passes as good reading. Indeed, it could have been written in an easier-to-read expository form, but it is worth the effort. Even after reading notes on the book, one still has lingering questions, but that's how life itself has too. If nothing else, Faulkner may have been trying to tell us not to expect everything to make sense.

Nov 22, 2013

A slow start, but momentum keeps building through the whole book and has you racing towards the end. There's a lot to untangle, but it's one of the most fantastic examples of classic literature that I've read.

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FavouriteFiction Sep 30, 2009

The Bundren family take the body of Addie, the family matriarch to the place she wished to be buried. Along the way each member tells their private thoughts about Addie.


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May 13, 2015

Darl: "When I was a boy I first learned how much better water tastes when it has set a while in a cedar bucket. Warmish-cool, with a faint taste like the hot July wind in cedar trees smells. It has to set at least six hours, and be drunk from a gourd. Water should never be drunk from metal."


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