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Image provided by Edward Berry

Edward Berry
Professor of English

The Sound and The Fury, William Faulkner

Affiliation with UVic: Professor Emeritus

When did you first read this book: 1962

Which sentence from this book has special significance for you?

“Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.”

What does the sentence mean to you?

The “meaning” of this opening line only became apparent upon second reading. In it Faulkner narrates the story through the eyes of Benjy, the so-called “idiot,” whose incomprehension of what he experiences is profoundly moving throughout. Benjy’s melancholy but uncomprehending image of men hitting golf balls on his former family pasture and his sensitivity to the fence and “flower spaces” encapsulate many of the novel’s themes: the destructive power of time, the emergence of a new social order, the intimate bond between humans and nature, and the mystery of consciousness. I had not encountered such dense, moving, and ethically engaged fiction before.