STARKVILLE, Miss.--Fifty years after his death, novelist William Faulkner is finally getting his wish for "The Sound and the Fury," the 1929 novel widely considered his most difficult reading experience.
Employing multiple, shifting points of view--including that of a mentally disabled narrator--the book long has presented challenges for readers and scholars. At the time, Faulkner lamented the fact that publishing hadn't yet devised a way to graphically represent in color the time-shifts and changes of narrators.
Now, Mississippi State University English professor emeritus Noel Polk and co-editor Steven M. Ross have done just that.
The color-coded, limited edition of 1,400 is a Folio Society release. Orders of the 320-page publication may be completed at www.foliosociety.com/book/SAF.
Both Polk, editor of MSU's Mississippi Quarterly literary journal, and Ross are noted Faulkner scholars who previously collaborated on "Reading Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury" (1996, University Press of Mississippi).
Ross directs the Office of Challenge Grants at the Washington, D.C.-based National Endowment for the Humanities.
In addition to the laborious undertaking of identifying a large number of time levels represented in the narrative, the scholars also provide a comprehensive commentary that gives insight into countless allusions and ambiguities in the dense text. An accompanying bookmark is printed with a color key.
Ted Atkinson, another Faulkner scholar at MSU, said that "the issue of a colorized edition of 'The Sound and the Fury' has provoked debate about authorial intention and speculation about how such an edition might change the reader's engagement with one of Faulkner's most challenging and richly rewarding novels.
"With this landmark new edition, expertly edited by Noel and Steve, there now is tangible ground for exploring these issues," he added.
Specializing in American fiction, Polk has published and lectured widely in this country, Europe, Japan, and the former Soviet Union on both Faulkner and fellow Mississippian Eudora Welty. A University of South Carolina doctoral graduate, he also has written "Children of the Dark House: Text and Context in Faulkner" (1996), "Eudora Welty: A Bibliography of Her Work" (1993) and "Outside the Southern Myth" (1997).
Ross holds a doctorate in American literature from Stanford University and a juris doctorate from the University of Maryland law school. Previously an English professor at the United States Naval Academy and Purdue University, he also has authored "Fiction's Inexhaustible Voice: Speech and Writing in Faulkner" (1989).
"Once again, these distinguished Faulknerians have made a major contribution to the field, one that will surely reinvigorate interest in 'The Sound and the Fury' and spark lively discussion not only in Faulkner studies but also in broader related fields such as modernist studies and American literary studies," Atkinson observed.