The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner

A publishing landmark – the first edition of Faulkner’s masterpiece to be printed as he intended

‘I wish publishing was advanced enough to use colored ink … I’ll just have to save the idea until publishing grows up’  William Faulkner

Faulkner’s vision fulfilled in a new limited edition
William Faulkner’s most revolutionary novel has challenged and rewarded readers in equal measure. Faulkner wanted to see it printed using different coloured inks to mark different time periods, but no publisher at the time could take on such a complicated and expensive project, and Faulkner never left an exact schematic of his idea. Now, over 80 years later, The Folio Society is fulfilling Faulkner’s vision in the creation of this new edition. A scholarly glossary and line-by-line commentary on the book by two eminent Faulknerians has been updated and published as a companion volume to this limited edition. To assist the reader further, a bookmark is supplied with all colours and their matching dates as well as line numbers marked along one side. Beautifully bound and strictly limited to 1,480 numbered copies, this is quite simply the finest edition of The Sound and the Fury ever published.

A giant of American literature
In October 1928, the young writer William Faulkner tossed a recently completed manuscript to his friend: ‘Read this, Bud. It’s a real son-ofa- bitch … This one’s the greatest I’ll ever write.’

He went on to write many great novels and short stories. In 1949, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his ‘powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel’. But Faulkner was right that The Sound and the Fury – searing, tragic, extraordinary in its innovation – is the most powerful of all. Indeed, it remains one of the most influential of all 20th-century American novels.

 

‘For all the range of effect, philosophical weight, originality of style, variety of characterization, humor, and tragic intensity [Faulkner’s works] are without equal in our time and country’ ROBERT PENN WARREN

 

Faulkner knew the public might find the book difficult, that its stream-of-consciousness form, the jerky timeshifts and dislocations between external and internal would confuse some readers. In the first section, because the narrator Benjy is mentally disabled, Faulkner wanted to convey ‘unbroken-surfaced confusion’. His agent attempted to add extra paragraph breaks in pursuit of clarity, prompting an angry objection from Faulkner. He quickly jotted down eight time levels in Benjy’s section, ‘just a few I recall’, and wished that it could be ‘printed the way it ought to be with different color types’, but he concluded pessimistically, ‘I don’t reckon … it’ll ever be printed that way.’

Once The Folio Society determined that it could be printed that way, two noted Faulkner scholars, Noel Polk and Stephen M. Ross, helped to identify all the time-levels in the first section and assign a colour to each. We can never know if this is exactly what Faulkner would have envisaged were he to have created the colour scheme himself, but the identification of each time shift has been carefully researched and the colours selected to work harmoniously in different combinations on the page.

Fans of Faulkner will find this edition exhilarating, for it reveals a new way of looking at what Faulkner’s friend and literary agent Ben Wasson called ‘the sheer technical outrageousness and freshness of the Benjy section’. Those who have been put off by the book’s reputation for obscurity will find that the colour scheme (and special bookmark developed for this edition) aids comprehension. Crucially, the colour-shifts achieve this without removing the ‘thoughttransference’ to the reader for which Faulkner argued so passionately.

Sound of genius, fury of tragedy
In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Faulkner championed ‘the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice’. The Sound and the Fury is filled with those emotions: the reader cannot help but care for Quentin begging his sister not to marry ‘that blackguard’; even for Mrs Compson with her bleak self-centred cry, ‘I am a lady’, and for Benjy waiting by the golf course just to hear the golfers call ‘caddie’ at which he begins to howl, mistaking it for his beloved sister’s name.

‘No man ever put more of his heart and soul into the written word
than did William Faulkner’ Eudora Welty

• Strictly limited to 1,480 copies, numbered by hand
• Presented in a cloth-bound slipcase with inset leather title label
• Quarter-bound in vermilion goatskin leather blocked in gold
• Paper sides printed letterpress with a typographic design by Russell Marat
• 320 pages. 10¼” x 6½”
• 232-page commentary volume
• bound in cotton cloth, blocked in gold

Strictly limited, bound to order and never repeated, Folio Society
limited editions are outstanding works of literary or historical
significance reproduced as works of art in their own right. Many of our
editions are facsimiles of treasures held in some of the world’s greatest
libraries and museums. For others, we commission leading artists and
craftsmen to create editions that represent the pinnacle of book publishing.
All are designed to become keepsakes for future generations.

 

Folio Society limited editions are outstanding works of literary or historical significance reproduced as works of art in their own right. Many of our editions are facsimiles of treasures held in some of the world’s greatest libraries and museums. For others, we commission leading artists and craftsmen to create editions that represent the pinnacle of book publishing. All are designed to become keepsakes for future generations.