Wild Palms

ISBN: 0099282925
ISBN 13: 9780099282921
By: William Faulkner

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About this book

'Between grief and nothing I will take grief'In New Orleans in 1937, a man and woman embark on a headlong flight into the wilderness of illicit passion, fleeing her husband and the temptations of respectability. In Mississippi ten years earlier, a convict sets forth across a flooded river, risking his one chance at freedom to rescue a pregnant woman. From these separate stories Faulkner composes a symphony of deliverance and damnation, survival and self-sacrifice, a novel in which elemental danger is juxtaposed with fatal injuries of the spirit.

Reader's Thoughts

Ricardo de Almeida Rocha

Faulkner. Cada século tem escritores que são seus arautos. O começo do século 20, a decadência de uma forma de vida, absurda, atrasada, injusta, não irá se transformar, pelo fim oficial de um de seus maiores emblemas, o preconceito racial oficial, numa era melhor. Antes o quadro se torna paradoxal e a perspectiva mais sombria. As soluções que restam talvez sejam os pontos altos das grandes obras desse autor. Em Santuário, a volta do advogado para casa, depois de experimentar a liberdade pelo mundo, é a um tempo patética e quase gloriosa. Como se ele tivesse conseguido o mais importante, sobreviver e, ao sobreviver, aprender o que não sabia e com isso ser um homem menos espetacular mas mais realista e, portanto, útil, tanto à irmã (cujos sentimentos intensos são tão incestuosos quanto o paterno em relação a Little Lee e todavia se mantém puros por se manterem numa dimensão dominada pelo bem, num mundo, como diria a única Lou Salomé, “onde o incesto não seria pecado”. Em Luz em Agosto, é a peregrinação de Lena em busca de seu suposto amor, que termina por encontrar tudo menos amor onde imaginava, mas todavia deflagra em Byron sentimentos de altruísmo que determinaram igualmente o final da história daquela menina viajante e grávida. Num e noutro caso há o melhor do homem não redimindo o mundo sujo ao redor, mas dando-lhe um certo alento. Mas nada como em Palmeiras Selvagens. Os embates interiores do protagonista afetam tudo, a amante, o marido, o puritano, a prática mulher do puritano, o policial, as filhas. “Isso é demais, há um limite para tudo! Normas! Para a fornicação, o adultério, o crime e o que ele queria dizer era Há um limite para tudo a menos que alguém se torne Deus que sofreu assim tudo que satã era capaz de conhecer!” A frase determina o romance. Editado originalmente junto com um segundo romance curto, O velho, esse Palmeiras Bravas, na única edição que não partilha mas domina de ponta a ponta, sem as alternações convencionadas pelo próprio Faulkner, é de fato impartilhável. Ao falar de amor, destrói a “honrabilidadehonorabilidade”. Ao falar de filhos, destrói a noção de que seja algo para qualquer casal de seres humanos de sexos diferentes. Ao falar de dinheiro, vai muito além de consumo capitalista. Reduz dinheiro a subsistência, que se torna tudo de que um casal deve precisar, e mesmo assim, e mesmo assim... Portanto, a célebre última frase é apenas a coroa da majestade que dominou as duzentas páginas anteriores: se eu me tornar nada, todo o recordar deixará de ser. . E pensou: Entre a dor e o nada, portanto, eu escolho a dor. Mas o nada é tudo. E a dor pode ser insuportável.

Lori

When I first started reading this book I became terribly afraid that I was just way too stupid to read Faulkner on my own. Every other Faulkner book I've read has been for a class, so I had the guidance of a teacher to get through the rough spots and bring to light some of the more difficult passages. While I know I definitely didn't get a lot of what was underlying the main two stories, the feelings that Faulkner can evoke in his narratives were still there and I was blown away by both stories, especially Old Man. Faulkner is just a genius, plain and simple.

Lynn Fredericks

This is one of favorites. It requires great focus to read, but that may be one of its good qualities. In an age that prides itself on speed and efficiency, here is something that should be savored and experienced thoroughly, without rush. If I forget thee Jerusalem, is the tittle Faulkner wanted for thees two separate but subtly entwined tales. The two tales have subtly kindred themes, but share hardly any outward similarities and no connections of plot or character. I especially love the Wild Palms story; the story of a young couple trying to live on love alone, and the sorrow of loss. The tragicomic tale of the enduring convict, sounds like a story form the bible. Each story helps illuminate the other. I feel that this beautifully written work is the type of story that one could read several times, each time seeing something new, like traveling to a distant country.

Samuel Breed

** spoiler alert ** Severely Overlooked and Brilliant!The Wild Palms: [If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem] is one of my favorite books ever written. Combining elements of noir with pioneering modernist techniques, it distills the best out of Faulkner. The following are excerpts from papers I've written about The Wild Palms. From "A Collage of Collision: The Use of Montage in The Wild Palms [If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem] and The Sound and the Fury"[...]Ten years and six novels later, Faulkner’s ability to create play within structure is fully realized with the publication of The Wild Palms [If…Jerusalem], a novel whose structure plays as much of a role as the content of the text itself. Composed as two novellas, “Wild Palms” and “Old Man,” presented in alternating chapters, The Wild Palms [If…Jerusalem] demonstrates what only was hinted at in the dialectic structure of The Sound and the Fury. The power behind the structure of The Wild Palms [If…Jerusalem] is the synthesis of themes and tone that does not exist when presented differently. Both memorable and compelling novellas in their own right, “Wild Palms” and “Old Man” tell two completely separate stories fastened together by their theme of the surrender, but reach startlingly different conclusions. Written in the order that appears in the corrected text and originally titled If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem, the two were meant to be inseparable, but have both been published independently of one another. The stories set of a series of oppositions while remaining faithful to the theme and their synthesis was meant to be explained by the original title. Unfortunately due to a disagreement with his publish and the desire to see the work publish, Faulkner settled on the title The Wild Palms for the novel—a title which has recently been appended with the original. The differences of the two components reveals itself firstly through differences in each section’s pace. Both novellas begin with a summons and are narrated in the past tense, but that’s where the similarities between the first two chapters begins to fall off. The first scene of “Wild Palms” is taken out of chronological order from the rest of the story, ending with a cliffhanger that is not returned to until its final act, while “Old Man” opens with two unnamed convicts talking about how the ended up where they are. “Old Man” is narrated by its protagonist, the tall convict, who remains detached from the narrative throughout. The narrator of “Wild Palms” is not as easily defined however. Ostensibly, the story is also narrated by its protagonist, Harry Wilbourne, but Harry’s involvement within the narrative itself makes the issue more complex than a simple past tense narration would normally be. Ultimately, “Wild Palms” is more like a stream-of-consciousness reflection on the events of the story, as remembered by Harry. Thusly, “Wild Palms” lends itself to be more frantic and emotional while “Old Man” remains slow and methodical. This dichotomy of tension and release is the fuel for the novel’s complex use of the dialectical montage.The use of montage in The Wild Palms [If…Jerusalem] further extends itself into the character development of the two protagonists. Harry and the tall convict represent the two extremes of kept men: Harry is bound to Charlotte by his intense feelings towards her, and pushes himself through unpleasant and undesirable situations to keep Charlotte, eventually compromising his own ethics in order to do so; the tall convict is bound to the woman by nothing other than his own sense of duty to someone in trouble, and though their relationship is largely silent, he protects her and her newborn child without objection. And two both admit at separate points in their narrative that they are bound to forces beyond their control. For Harry, he describes his love for Charlotte and her saving him from solitude and virginity as hinging on “one single fluxive Yes out of the terror in which you surrender volition[…]” (The Wild Palms [If…Jerusalem] 117). Harry’s passion for Charlotte is almost incommunicable, something that’s wrapped around him to which he is inexplicably bound. Similarly, the river and the woman are bound, inescapably to the tall convict:“It merely seemed to him that he had accidentally been caught in a situation in which time and environment, not himself, was mesmerized; he was being toyed with by a current of water going nowhere […] and in the meantime it did not much matter just what he did or did not do” (The Wild Palms [If…Jerusalem] 124-25).Harry and the tall convict are both in circumstances of which they have no control, but they differ in their need for an explanation. The tall convict seems to not need one; drifting in the swell of the pregnant river, only thinking about what action must be performed presently. However, Harry feels that he must communicate and analyze what has happened to him, turning his mind away from the actions he must take to maintain it. [...]Both men are eventually sentenced to serve time at the state penitentiary at Parchman, Harry for the death of Charlotte due to his botched abortion, and the tall convict for not returning sooner. Again, both outcomes are placed together in a dialectical montage, leaving the synthesis to the reader. Harry’s sentence of fifty years and his acceptance of that with his final statement of “between grief and nothing, I’ll take grief,” can be viewed as his acknowledgement of Charlotte as an ineluctable force (The Wild Palms [If…Jerusalem] 273). Harry sees his fifty years as somewhat of a favor, it allows him the time to play back the events of his life with Charlotte, knowing his mistakes, but not regretting his experience. On the other hand, the tall convict’s resignation that the events during the flood possibly “not even worth talking about,” demonstrate his nihilistic outlook—something possibly created by his years spent comfortably institutionalized (The Wild Palms [If…Jerusalem] 280). He fails to see the injustice of his sentence, and the two differing endings make for an effect that is hard to put your finger on.This disaffecting ending is possibly best summarized by Faulkner’s original title of If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem, a line from Psalm 137 about the importance of remembering Jerusalem while in captivity. The purpose of this title was to focus the logic and justice of the book, inasmuch that it is your duty to not forget about Jerusalem, even in times of great suffering. The synthesis of the montage is then embedded in the title, along with an explanation of the endings: Harry’s decision to remember “Jerusalem” (in his case Charlotte) becomes the right one, while the tall convict choice to forget becomes the wrong one. Only through the use of montage does the theme of The Wild Palms [If…Jerusalem] truly emerge, and each novella is unquestionably enhanced by their relative juxtaposition.By using montage along with omission and repetition, Faulkner was able to craft novels that contain content that extends beyond their textual limitations. His early problems of overwriting were solved when he discovered that the reader ultimately does not need to have every detail explained in drawn-out sections of dry prose. By forcing the reader to make assumptions to have a full grasp on the content of a particular novel with the use of dialectical montage, he unlocked what is considered a pillar of modernist literature. Instead allowing arcane references and complex symbolism to render his books unreadable, he created a canon of literature that was popular with scholars as well non-academics. The essential principle behind montage in film, is that if an audience is exposed to the convention enough times, they gain the ability to make jumps in thought without having to be told “the man is hungry.” Whether or not Faulkner was familiar with the work of Kuleshov and Eisenstein before he wrote The Wild Palms [If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem] ultimately becomes irrelevant because of his understanding of the mechanics and purpose of montage in literature.[...]From "A General Introduction to the Works of William Faulkner"[...]Faulkner’s return to a more commercially appealing novel and the best example of the influence of film theory is The Wild Palms [If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem]. The novel alternate chapters between two seemingly unrelated stories “Wild Palms” and “Old Man” (both have subsequently been published independently of one another, despite being composed in the order and style of the original text). The Wild Palms [If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem] is most notable for its use of dialectical montage in its structure. By opposing the two novellas, a series of opposites is established which create symbolism and meaning not present when separated. This is perhaps the most obvious example of Faulkner’s desire to have structure directly influence content, and continues the exploration of darker subject matter and subjective justice. [...]

Mat

Greatest Faulkner book I have read so far! Fan-bloody-tastic. I liked this even better than Absalom! Absalom! And it was much easier to follow.The Wild Palms is a novel which actually consists of two different stories. Faulkner decided to interweave two different stories to build each respective story more towards its climax. Faulkner actually wanted to call this novel If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem but his editors insisted on calling it The Wild Palms, the title of ONE of the two stories in this novel. The editors won out but in editions sold today you can see Faulkner’s title in brackets. The ‘main’ story, The Wild Palms, is a classic tale of illicit love (i.e. adultery) in which a married woman Charlotte runs away with a med student/intern Harry. Many of the women in Faulkner’s novels are fascinating – usually singular, strong-willed, determined, independent, abusive or abused and Charlotte is no exception. The star-crossed lovers travel across the country, barely managing to scrape by. At one point, Harry gets a job as a doctor at a mining shaft and it is around this time that Charlotte gets pregnant. However, it is here that we begin to learn of one of the reasons why Charlotte wanted to run away – she did not want children (nor stability or those other things that most women crave). She laments that childbirth is too painful but in a typical Faulknerian masterful stroke of subtlety, he suggests to the reader that there is much more to it than that, that there is a painful past that even we the readers should not be too ready to probe into and examine and condemn. Therefore, she asks Harry to perform an abortion, which he has successfully done once before, but which is totally against his morals and principles. I won’t spoil the rest of the story for those who have not read it but it does ascend to a dramatic climax.Now, to the other ‘strand’ of the novel entitled, The Old Man. This story is about a convict who is asked to go and rescue two people stranded in a famous flood which occurred in 1927. The convict is asked to bring back a stranded pregnant woman and a man clinging to the roof of a cottonwood house. The first operation is successful but not the second. The tall convict is one of those guys whose luck just goes from bad to worse. In the end he succeeds in his operation after going through various trials and tribulations and despite the great odds that were weighed against him. He managed to navigate a skiff through incredibly treacherous waters (the flood), nearly drowning several times, going for several days without food, gets shot at when spotted by police and ends up hunting alligators with a wild bayou-rat Frenchman. What’s not to like in this story? So how are these too novels related? On the surface level, they are not related at all. According to Faulkner, he decided to write and include The Old Man strand of the story “as a counterpoint to the story of Charlotte and Harry”, which works beautifully as it sets both stories up for an exhilarating climax without letting the illicit love tale become “too shrill”. I could be going way out on a limb here, but I think there is more to it than just what Faulkner lets us onto. I believe that these stories and in particular the endings of these stories and the ultimate fates of the main characters forces the reader to question ideas of justice/injustice in the world at large. I don’t want to delve more into it than that for those who have not read the novel. Just like in Light in August, there is one ‘happy’ ending and one ‘sad’ ending to this novel. Some have pointed out, myself included (in a previous review of another Faulkner novel), that Faulkner does not create stories so much but creates atmospheres. This is very true although after reading this novel I have to say that there is a definite and very traceable plot there as well. Not only is he the master of sketching such unforgettable and singular characters in literature but he takes us headlong into their minds and deepest thoughts. And that is why some may find reading his novels difficult. In more conventional novels, much of the action occurs externally (told through a narrator) but I would like to argue that Faulkner is a great internal storyteller, just like some poets are great at writing internal poetry (for example Michael McClure). We get to see the world and the whole story through their eyes, which gives us a better understanding of who they are and why they behave the way they do and sometimes a justification for how they are or what they do, no matter how reprehensible it may be. And in this respect Faulkner is a real champion of the human heart. He wants to explore the human condition unabashedly and openly and for this I hold him in the utmost respect. All in all, I cannot rate this book highly enough. I have read quite a few Faulkner books this year, most of them good, and after reading such great novels as Light in August, Sanctuary and particularly the stunning The Unvanquished (my second favorite), this comes as a pleasant surprise and a welcome addition to the Faulkner corner of my small and humble library. Highly recommended even for someone new to Faulkner’s work as this story is very accessible, for the most part. Five stars.

Wingedbeaver

I’ve come to find that I tend to read as two different people, the writer and the reader. What each of these personalities likes and appreciates in a novel can be completely different. The reader is looking for plot and character, a fun story with interesting characters that pulls me into the book and prevents me from putting it down. The writer is looking for technique and word use, a well structured sentence or paragraph with deep description and intriguing word choice that leaves me in awe. In a few very rare occasions there is a novel that appeals to both the reader and the writer, but usually if the reader is enthralled the writer isn’t all that impressed and if the writer is in awe the reader is left with a headache. There is no doubt that William Faulkner is an author that appeals solely to the writer in me because the reader struggled with every minute I spent with Wild Palms. It was obvious from the first page that Faulkner was an author writing on a different plane then most I am use to reading. His style is very stream of conscience, with long complicated sentences and flowery word choice. One can’t breeze through a Faulkner sentence. You need to take it slowly, soaking in every word and punctuation, because it won’t end where it started, nor will the journey be a straight line. In Wild Palms, he seems to have thrown a parenthesis into every sentence, breaking the flow of thought to jump around in time and story. It’s a technique that makes the novel hard to read and enjoy, but one that forces you to read closely and pay attention to every thing that occurs. It’s something the writer in me can’t help but admire. Reading someone like Faulkner as a writer can prove to be a slightly depressing exercise, because I know I will never be able to write a story with such a sense of art. I’ll admit, I’m far from a fan of the stream of conscience style of story telling, yet I found Wild Palms to have more for the reader in me then anything written by Virginia Wolfe. As much as Faulkner makes you work, there is something more accessible in this novel then I have found in most stream of conscience stories. It may have been painful, and it may be a while before I choose to tackle another Faulkner novel, but nothing in Wild Palms made me swear off his work. It certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, but there are enough enjoyable moments to give him another try. If you are looking for light fun fare, Faulkner will never be for you, but if you are looking for a challenge, a story that you may admire more then enjoy, give Wild Palms a try.

Jeremy Hauck

Between the needlessly strange structure--two novels with no direct connection to each other told in alternating chapters, both of which use frames--and the language--a distant third narrator writing in extremely lengthy sentences left too long on the boil, with dialogue that often sounds like old Hollywood speak ("Do it, Jack. Just do it. It's no good, see?"), it's no surprise that Wild Palms is not part of the Faulkner canon. And really the Wild Palms portion of the novel, which deals with Harry Wilbourne and Charlotte Rittenmeyer, absconding on a year-long love affair in 1938 or so, boils down to a botched abortion, yet, with the characters propelled more by circumstance than their environment or their actions, it comes across as very dated. In the Old Man portion, much the same: circumstances, this time a humongous flood in 1927, propel the Convict to continually row about the south with his cargo, a woman he was commanded to rescue who has just given birth.Both storylines suffer from a lack of clarity. The language is so dense that it is not clear why Harry and Charlotte do the abortion, or why her husband comes back at the end, or what exactly motivates the Convict, or why the state adds 10 years to his sentence at the end. The interrupted dialogue device is used a couple dozen times too often.As for its strengths, the novel takes place in the Mississippi delta as well as Chicago, the Rocky Mountains, and New Orleans, showing us a wide array of settings, with a flooded landscape, a train of convicts, a hospital, court room, jail cell and several remote cabins (at least 4, by my count)--the places where great literature tends to patrol regularly. The cajun sequence with the Convict was particularly interesting.

Victoria Young

The two novellas that together make up Wild Palms (aka If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem) are at first glance quite different stories: The first (Wild Palms), featuring an idealistic unmarried couple striving to live an authentic, passionate life, meanders all over America from the Gulf Coast to Chicago to the Colorado mountains; the second (Old Man) is closely anchored to the geography of the Mississippi Delta and provides a convict's insight into the disastrous flood of 1927. Where Wild Palms is an earnest and tragic story of lovers resisting conformity and bourgeois society, Old Man highlights the absurd powerlessness of the individual pitted against the forces of nature.The two tales are, however, connected thematically and engage in a kind of antiphonal call-and-response, each examining opposing sides of the same conceptual coins. Both plots are preoccupied with pregnancy and the female body- while one story depicts its female romantic interest struggling to maintain her independence from the procreative functions of her body with dire consequences, the other shows its sole female character as defined entirely by her gravidity, devoid of sexuality, but birthing life in the midst of desolation. Incarceration is another common theme: on the one hand Faulkner creates a convict moving heaven and earth to return to his penitentiary, on the other, you have a man swept into prison by bad luck and circumstance. Interestingly, both protagonists do at various moments consciously choose incarceration, if for very different reasons.Where Faulkner is concerned, narrative voice is often at the forefront, but I think that is a less important feature in this work than his other novels. The use of stream of consciousness is quite minimal, and both stories rely more on omniscient 3rd person perspective than Faulkner's usual character driven and introspective point-of-view narrations. The narrative structure however, is quite tightly manipulated to highlight contrasts in the two plots, and uses chaptered 'cuts' to balance the romantic intensity of the first story with the physical trials of the second.Although it's easy to be caught up in the personal drama of Wild Palms, I think Old Man actually is the more powerful of the two. The imagery is starker, the plot more tightly written and focused on something more fundamental, more interesting than a romantic relationship, and the absurdist irony there in its ending is subtly but brilliantly done.

Aprile

Lievi anticipazioni (non più comunque di quanto appaia nel risguardo)Generalmente prima di iniziare un nuovo libro, lo sfoglio, lo soppeso, ne leggo il risguardo - per la precisione - lo rileggo. La prima lettura era già avvenuta all'acquisto ma questa nuova è fondamentale per le precedenze, mi deve colpire in quel momento particolare in modo da indicarmi il libro da iniziare. In questo caso, però, tale lettura è stata nociva. Mi ha distratto dal godimento spontaneo del testo. Il lettore viene avvisato che i racconti sono due, ben distinti e paralleli, con nulla in comune. Allora questa è una sfida: vuoi non trovare un filo conduttore? E si cercano le somiglianze rischiando di perdere la poesia dell'onda del fiume che risucchia e lo sferzare delle palme al vento. I conti con la Natura sono sempre dovuti, la sfida dell'uomo è impari, soccombe. Fortunatamente la scrittura di Faulkner è così bella, è così una bella scrittura che fa dimenticare la volontà di indagine e ci si abbandona al suo ritmo. Progressivamente si riescono a comprendere le motivazioni delle persone - non personaggi - incomprensibili al primo approccio. Quando si legge l'ultima pagina, non si sente la necessità di capire perché Faulkner abbia alternato un capitolo di una storia con il capitolo dell'altra, è evidente che ciò che le lega è la contrapposizione della volontà dei diversi protagonisti: nascita/ristabilire un vecchio ordine di cose nel primo racconto, aborto/cambiamento nel secondo. Il fallimento è comunque comune ad entrambi. Leggetevelo, leggetevelo il rammarico del forzato nelle ultime parole del libro, e il dolore di una vita sprecata, prima e dopo, del dottorino... Ignoranza e immaturità, queste le colpe, alleggerite dal solito senso dell'umorismo di Faulkner: come si può non ridere a pag. 246?E questa è la prima cosa tradotta in parole, misere, da quando ho chiuso il libro pochi minuti fa, molte frullano nel cervellino, ma le tengo per me, Faulkner non può essere raccontato, è uno spreco, va annusato in prima persona.1956, Mississipi 1897-1962

Ethli (w-p)

Nie czuję się odpowiednią grupą docelową, są pewnie tacy, którym pasowałoby to dużo bardziej. Ewentualnie mi kilka lat temu, mając tych lat 17 czy 20...często powracające zdanie (głownego bohatera): nie jestem tu nikomu do niczego potrzebny; częsta nuda i nieskończona pustka. wybrane jako lepsze od monotonii, od mieszczańskiego schematu bytowania-trwania w czasie-życia bez życia. więc skoro nie jesteś potrzebny tu, zrób coś, znajdź się tam,gdzie jesteś potrzebny! marazm znany mi kiedyś, ale dziś już jest ta wiedza, że nie jest to jedyna z dróg, więc -- nihil novipodobnie jak i to, że nie trzeba chodzić w szlafroku tylko dlatego,że należy chodzić w szlafroku, że nie trzeba pozostać we wszystkich obyczajach--choć może wtedy(ksiązka jest prawie sprzed 100 lat) było to mniej osiągalne, mniej wykonalne-nowe... więc znów-nie wina ksiązki,tylko target,target nie ten.choć i teraz pewnie wiele ludzi-mrówek żyje bez życia,nie widząc zgubionej prawdziwości siebie ale można też próbować zachować ją - nie kosztem utraty przydatności, nie kosztem zachowania tylko pustki czy nudy, bądź smutku - są inne drogi (tylko może trzeba je dostrzec odpowiednio wcześnie, zanim jest już za późno, zanim zabraknie sił -- odwagi)

G.

** spoiler alert ** I struggled through the majority of this book. That's not to say that I didn't admire and relish the challenge of reading the long, rambling and complex sentences. I actually liked this aspect of the style of the novel. I also appreciated the over-riding themes contrasting between 'Old Man' and 'The Wild Palms'; it definitely gives you plenty to chew on.What I didn't like was how blatant Faulkner was about these themes and ideas. There was something which grated on me in the way he would employ at the same time vagueness and uncertainty (i.e. in 'The Wild Palms', what Harry and Charlotte had exactly done, why she was calling him Rat, what did she mean?) with long-winded explanations (i.e. Harry relaying the whole meaning of his life to McCord). I would have preferred to have one or the other; oddly enough, considering how difficult the book is to actually read , I ended up feeling like I was being spoon-fed the subtext.Another irritation: maybe I'm wrong - I don't know much about Faulkner apart from this book - but I got the distinct impression from the way he described the convict's work that Faulker himself had never done a day's hard labour in his life. Who else would be able to say that the convict 'forgot how good it is to work'? After struggling through most of the book, I stopped exactly 5 pages before the end. I couldn't be bothered. But, again through determination, I picked it up after a two week break and read the last 5 pages. Funnily enough, I actually liked the ending. It felt like the only bit of the whole book which rung true. Apparently this book was born out of Faulkner's own heart-ache. I can imagine that the final words of 'Women, shit' came straight out of his own emotions at the time, and reveal the reason why women barely get a look-in throughout the whole book.Some of my dislike of the book is probably my own fault. There is nothing more aggravating than having to look up a word in the dictionary every few sentences. Still, I'd like to lay some of that blame on Faulker for being gratituously verbose.I suppose that is what defines my rating of 'The Wild Palms'. It is not a one-star book. But according to Good Reads' rating system, I had to choose that option because it means 'didn't like it'. If I could, I would have chosen 'good book - didn't like it'.

Richard

The continuing saga of my traipsing (at long last) through the genius of Fualkner.What carries this book the most is the imagery - in here are some of the most mesmerizing descriptions of landscape (possibly some of the most amazing known to human history). The description of a land covered in flood is awe-inspiring, to both character and reader alike. In this one we have two separate narratives that revolve on love and the nature of man and woman with a young doctor who falls in love with a married woman (his first chance to fall in love in his life) and a convict who gets separated from his guard in a flood and comes across a pregnant woman sitting in a tree. Here we find the shock of emotion that gets laid upon reticent Faulknerian men, and of course the deep psychologies of devotion and sacrifice and the need to sacrifice. I am only reticent to offer 5 stars on this because the escaped convict line simply didn't compel me as much--sorry to make reference to a dim book in comparison, but Cold Mountain held me back in the same way, that when two storylines are entwined, one runs the risk of the paler dragging down the whole effort. Cold Mountain did that in spades, and while the lesser storyline only dragged this down a bit, I did feel nonetheless dragged down and tempted all too often to skip. Sorry, Bill.

Matthew

There he is, the Old Man, the river that is something of a deity in the American South. The muddy water that threatens and nurtures and has a will and a force that can not be predicted or tamed, even in our time.In this book you have a prisoner struggling against the whims of the Mississippi. Convicts are enlisted to rescue stranded peasants. A tall convict is asked if he can row a boat, he says he can, probably because he doesn't know what he is promising. The point is made that this convict alive in 1927, has plowed, lived on, and eaten from land irrigated by this river all of his life but sees it for the first time only after he is already grown and served many years in prison. That revelation is startling, but it must have been true of many in that time and place. And that river, which he has in his blood, is threatening him from the moment he sets down on its surface in his little rowboat.In this book you also have a man and a woman discovering a threatening love, and you could say that love is threatening them the moment they set down upon it in their little bodies. They are in New Orleans (a city built on the run off of the Old Man) in 1937. Their story opens the book and Faulkner's sentences have a strong current of their own. The words he uses flood your senses and you have to be a swift paddler to keep from being overturned or dashed against some obstacle (inevitable, and not so bad). These two don't actually float around on the river (they go to Wisconsin, Illinois and Utah instead)but like the convict, the river is in their blood.The two lovers have a threatening love because it is one great blinding demand, with no concern for civilized life. No marriage, employment, or child can survive it. They accept the violent demand of this love with a thrilling lack of experience. And the two personalities that Faulkner reveals in the lovers are the ideal vessels for such a love. A young medical student, in debt from birth and a remarkable woman of decisive action and words.The tall convict has his woman too, he takes her into his boat, a stranded woman great with child, and they search for any mercy they can along the river. The convict is so ignorant of everything outside of his prison that his common struggles against the elements become like dazzling mythology. Faulkner makes you feel the suffering of the convict, who really becomes no wiser in his adventures, but what he has is the stamina of the long-suffering prisoner. Eventually he is hunting for ancient reptiles with a Cajun of the Atchfalaya. You can imagine how puzzling and scary this would be to someone who never heard of alligators or Cajuns, largely because Faulkner dispenses with all conventions of perspective and lets you feel the story from many angles.A very unique and remarkable book. I never knew Faulkner was capable of this. Thanks to Steve Harris for getting me interested in reading this.

Jenny

I have to confess, that after finishing Faulkner's five novels most commonly listed as his "masterpieces" (Absalom, Absalom!, The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, As I Lay Dying, Go Down Moses), I had more or less figured that I'd exhausted his supply of truly great novels. My experiences with Intruder in the Dust (good, but far from great) and Sanctuary (dull, with agonizing moments of brilliance) seemed to support that notion.But I decided to read The Wild Palms [If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem] on what I can only really term as a "whim" after finishing Sanctuary, perhaps in the hope that it would wash the disappointing taste from my mouth with another Intruder-level novel and I found myself completely engrossed in the two seemingly-unconnected-but-actually-totally-connected novellas that make up this one strange, beautifully disjointed-but-actually-unified novel.Perhaps this is the moment where I reach full Faulkner-fanatic status, touting minor works as masterpieces, but what can I say? In my book, it did nearly everything right: the overwhelming mood of melancholy and resignation throughout; the musings on the nature of memory; the black wind and wild palms in the final "Wild Palms" section; the ironic fate of the convict; the inevitably tragic end of Charlotte and Harry. Hell, I even loved Harry's weird monologue at McCabe at the train station as they leave Chicago. I'd place The Wild Palms in Faulkner's "second-tier masterpieces" level, alongside As I Lay Dying and Go Down Moses, and I think I even liked it better than either of those. The language is every bit as beautiful and the sentences as long and difficult, but it's actually quite a bit less opaque than a lot of his other work (though I certainly wouldn't term it straightforward). "You remember: the precipice, the dark precipice; all mankind before you went over it and lived and all after you will but that means nothing to you because they cant tell you, forewarn you, what to do in order to survive. It's the solitude you see. You must do it in solitude and you can bear just so much solitude and still live, like electricity. And for this one or two seconds you will be absolutely alone: not before you were and not after you are not, because you are never alone then; in either case you are secure and companioned in a myriad and inextricable anonymity: in the one, dust from dust; in the other, seething worms to seething worms. But now you are going to be alone, you must, you know it, it must be, so be it; you heard the beast you have ridden all your life, the old familiar well-broken nag, up to the precipice -- . . . maybe you thought all the time that when the moment came, you could rein back, save something, maybe not, the instance comes and you know you cannot, know you knew all the time you could not, and you cannot; you are one single abnegant affirmation, one single fluxive Yes out of the terror in which you surrender volition, hope, all--the darkness, the falling, the thunder of solitude, the shock, the death, the moment when, stopped physically by the ponderable clay, you yet feel all your life rush out of you into the pervading immemorial blind receptive matrix, the hot fluid blind foundation--grave-womb or womb-grave, it's all one. But you return; maybe you knew that all the time, but you return, maybe you even live out your three score and ten or whatever it is but forever afterward you will know that forever more you have lost some of it, that for that one second or two seconds you were present in space but not in time, that you are not the three score and ten they have credited you with and that you will have to discharge someday to make the books balance, but three score and nine and three hundred and sixty four and twenty-three and fifty-eight..."

Matthieu

Des trajectoires individuelles qui vont jusqu'au bout de leur logique anti-concessive, de leur morale exclusive, le tout dans une pratique de l'entrelacement des récits. Et cela finit sans point final par un "les femmes. Font chier!" C'est dramatique mais en même temps l'écriture ne nous pousse pas à l'identification narrative ; pas davantage que nous ne partageons le flux de pensée des protagonistes. L'écriture est accidentée et si peu fluide que des passages entiers de Faulkner ne constituent même pas une petite musique intérieure. Du bruit de fond assez systématique. J'ai eu du mal à y entrer.

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