“A man is the sum of his misfortunes.”
—William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
William Faulkner’s provocative and enigmatic 1929 novel, The Sound and the Fury, is widely acknowledged as one of the most important English-language novels of the twentieth century. This revised and expanded Norton Critical Edition builds on the strengths of its predecessors while focusing new attention on both the novel’s contemporary reception and its rich cultural and historical contexts. The text for the Third Edition is again that of the corrected text scrupulously prepared by Noel Polk, whose textual note precedes the novel. David Minter’s annotations, designed to assist readers with obscure words and allusions, have been retained.
“Contemporary Reception,” new to the Third Edition, considers the broad range of reactions to Faulkner’s extraordinary novel on publication. Michael Gorra’s headnote sets the stage for assessments by Evelyn Scott, Henry Nash Smith, Clifton P. Fadiman, Dudley Fitts, Richard Hughes, and Edward Crickmay. New materials by Faulkner (“The Writer and His Work”) include letters to Malcolm Cowley about The Portable Faulkner and Faulkner’s Nobel Prize for Literature address. “Cultural and Historical Contexts” begins with Michael Gorra’s insightful headnote, which is followed by seven seminal considerations—five of them new to the Third Edition—of southern history, literature, and memory. Together, these works—by C. Vann Woodward, Richard H. King, Richard Gray, William Alexander Percy, Lillian Smith, William James, and Henri Bergson—provide readers with important contexts for understanding the novel.
“Criticism” represents eighty-five years of scholarly engagement with The Sound and the Fury. New to the Third Edition are essays by Eric Sundquist, Noel Polk, Doreen Fowler, Richard Godden, Stacy Burton, and Maria Truchan-Tataryn.
A Chronology of Faulkner’s life and work is newly included along with an updated Selected Bibliography.