As I Lay Dying: A Norton Critical Edition available in Paperback
Long been recognized not only as one of William Faulkner’s greatest works, but also as the most accessible of his major novels.
This Norton Critical Edition is based on the 1985 corrected text and is accompanied by detailed explanatory annotations.
“Backgrounds and Contexts” is divided into three sections, each of which includes a concise introduction by Michael Gorra that carefully frames the issues presented, with particular attention to As I Lay Dying’s place in Faulkner’s literary life. “Contemporary Reception” reprints American, English, and French reviews by Clifton Fadiman, Henry Nash Smith, Edwin Muir, and Maurice Coindreau, among others, along with Valery Larbaud’s never-before-translated preface to the first French edition of the novel. “The Writer and His Work” examines Faulkner’s claim to have written the novel in six weeks without changing a word. It includes his comments on the book’s composition along with his later thoughts on and changing opinions of it, sample pages from the manuscript, his Nobel Prize address, and the little-known short story in which he first used the title. “Cultural Context” reprints an essay by Carson McCullers and an excerpt from James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men along with other materials that address questions of Southern Agrarianism and the Southern grotesque.
“Criticism” begins with the editor’s introduction to As I Lay Dying’s critical history and scholarly reception. Eleven major essays are provided by Olga W. Vickery, Cleanth Brooks, Calvin Bedient, André Bleikasten, Eric Sundquist, Stephen M. Ross, Doreen Fowler, Patrick O’Donnell, Richard Gray, John Limon, and Donald M. Kartiganer.
A Chronology and a Selected Bibliography are also included.
About the Author
William Faulkner (1897–1962) is the Nobel Prize–winning author of
The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, among other works.
The author of Portrait of Novel, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Michael Gorra is the Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College and the editor of the Norton Critical Editions of As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury.
Date of Birth:September 25, 1897
Date of Death:July 6, 1962
Place of Birth:New Albany, Mississippi
Place of Death:Byhalia, Mississippi
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I don't think he did such a good job with the colloquial dialect. Cormac McCarthy does a much better job, but that is my subjective opinion. The story was great. The matriarch of the family dies and the husband oversees to fulfill her wishes to be buried among her own kin, which requires a long ride. I kept thinking this entire family had a screw loose, somewhere, because they couldn't do anything right. Lots of allusions going on here, to Greek mythology, to God and Christianity, to female sexuality. This stuff is heady. I felt stupid at the end when I had to look on Wikipedia just to confirm that I thought I knew what happened. It was a little confusing so it helped to have the confirmation. Perhaps I'll try The Sound and the Fury, next.
I'm a computer programmer and far from the world of high literary culture. I do like to make occasional visits to that world, however. Sometimes I head for the frontiers, but other times I will go right to the core. Norton Critical Editions seem like a workable definition for "core". I am clearly in no position to offer meaningful comments on the value of Faulkner's work or that of the editor of this edition - all that is the distilled product of a huge industry. I feel like a schoolchild on a factory tour! Still, I can offer my impressions.Faulkner's novel itself is a total onslaught. I expected to be confused - I find a lot of this high modern literature very hard to grasp - but actually this novel is easy enough to read and to follow. OK, a lot of the language runs miles outside the neat city streets of proper grammar, but just reading it gives one a good impression of the issues the characters are struggling with. The whole plot is laid out quite directly. The real assault is just the intensity of experience, both the raw sensory experience of the characters and then all the emotion turmoil this drives and is driven by. Or the kind of emotional rigidity that, like smoke implies fire, implies some kind of traumatic cutting off. Reading this novel is a bit of a traumatic shock itself. Life really can be brutal - some kind of underlying brutality seems almost pervasive sometimes - and this novel rips off the pretty wrapping. It's easy to see how it has earned its place in the literary canon.What's really funny about this book is that the overall structure is almost a mirror of the novel. The novel is a collection of snippets, reflections on events from the points of view of a variety of characters. Then the Norton Critical Edition duplicates this, giving us reflections on the novel from the points of view of a variety of characters. The variety is about as diverse as the characters in the novel! It amazes me how these different analyses pull such different interpretations out of the one short novel. Of course, the novel is a bit of a Rorschach ink splot - such a rich incoherence that one can build any number of palaces atop it. And here they are! But each of them seemed at least like a legitimate perspective, even if at times the rich interpretation of minor details seemed a bit overdone. Even then, it's a great tool to help the reader look again, to revitalize one's reading.
I read this when I was on my 'I need to read the classics' kick. I didn't expect to like it, but I did.
Norton does what it does best in this book - critiques almost every aspect of the book As I Lay Dying. Throughout the story, each character captures you in their own way, and without these characters, a huge bulk of the plot would be lost. Not only is the original As I Lay Dying book great on its own, the Norton Critical version gives the reader and critic alike many more options on analyzing and evaluating the text. This is a great book for teachers and students to use in the classroom in that it gives each person their own "teacher." Definitely a good read and a great addition to anyone's bookshelf. In my opinion, better than the original version. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a quality read, but it can become boring at points.