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William Faulkners fourth novel The Sound and the Fury is a haunting and sometimes bewildering novel that surprises and absorbs the reader each time it is read The novel was Faulkners personal favorite and along with James Joyces novel Ulysses and T S Eliots poem The Waste Land is generally thought to be one of the greatest works of literature in English of the twentieth century The Sound and the Fury also signalled the beginning of the major period of Faulkners own literary creativity four of the five novels that followed--As I Lay Dying Sanctuary Light in August and Absalom Absalom--are along with The Sound and the Fury often regarded as the best in Faulkners oeuvre Not surprisingly the novel has received an extraordinary amount of critical analysis much of which has been devoted to explaining Faulkners technical experimentations Critics have also widely discussed Faulkners treatment of issues such as race suicide incest time history and religion Central to any reading of the novel however is the character that Faulkner claimed was his source for the novel--Caddy Richard Gray has described Caddy as the novels absent presence and each of the four sections as another attempt to know her But to the reader Caddy remains an elusive mystery whose enforced silence prevents her from ever being known To her three brothers she is a source of obsession and irritation that cannot be forgotten or overcome The Sound and the Fury explores the breakdown of the familial relationships that lead to the Compson familys tragic deterioration Few readers would disagree that the familys demise is indeed tragic but the precise reasons for the downfall are still debated David Dowling has suggested that the tragedy of the Compsons is that they are slaves to themselves and to the past This argument is particularly relevant to the novels first two sections Benjys monologue for example is uttered in the present--Easter weekend 1928--but is mainly comprised of memories
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