Faulkner’s Idea of a Happy Ending

I was very sad to learn that the Whately Antiquarian Book Center is being sold and will be out of business in January. It’s been on the market for some time, and there was some hope someone would buy it and keep running it as a bookstore, but no such luck.

Now they’re having a humongous book sale and some of the consignors who had their books priced ridiculously high are facing the prospect of getting what they can.

i picked up an interesting little pamphlet about William Faulkner by William Van O’Connor. There’s a  lot of biographical information and literary analysis. Did you know William Faulkner was born William Falkner? The U was added by the printer of his first book, The Marble Faun.

O’Connor also provides plot summaries of all of Faulkner’s novels, and some of them are pretty funny. As I Lay Dying is about Addie Bundren, who is dying and wants to be buried in Jefferson, where her family are buried.

“After her death, the family set out for Jefferson. The journey is a nightmare. The coffin is upset in a stream. Cash’s leg is broken and Anse, to save money, coats it with cement. Darl sets fire to a barn to destroy Addie’s corpse, but she is saved by Jewel. Buzzards follow them.

“A druggist refuses to sell [abortion] pills to Dewey Dell, and a soda clerk seduces her. Anse borrows a spade and shovel to dig Addie’s grave. Darl is taken off to the asylum in Jackson, and Anse, having taken Dewey Dell’s money, buys new teeth and gets himself a new wife.”

In Faulkner’s world, that’s about as close as you get to a happy ending.

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