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

Amanda Roa

This is a story, in fact two juxtaposed stories, about flawed people blundering through life, fate against them, misdirected values, inevitable outcomes, all told via stream of consciousness prose for which Faulkner is famous. This is the second Faulkner novel I have read, both of which after reading a biography of his life. He was a complex, conflicted man, full of ideation and of dubious morals. Once I allowed myself to get in sync with the cadence of Faulkner's style of writing, I fell in love with it. The personified Faulkner is never very far away from his fiction. Reading his work is like getting to know the man himself in a vivid and intimate way. He was a private man, yet his prose was raw and revealing. I can imagine him, a solitary soul, in his room at Rowan Oaks writing and fantasizing and proliferating each and every scene. This won't be the last of Faulkner that I read.


I’m not sure where to begin when talking about The Wild Palms. Perhaps by clarifying that The Wild Palms is the publisher’s chosen name for If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem, Faulkner’s preferred title, and that it is also one of two intertwined stories in the book published under that title. A friend insisted that I read it, that it would probably become my new favorite book, but that I also might want to throw it against a wall when I finished. As usual, he was annoyingly right.The Wild Palms was my first Faulkner, despite my degree in English and my two Southern-born-and-educated advisers and my proclivity for mid-century male authors (see also: Hemingway, Durrell, Greene). As an educated and enlightened woman in this day and age, I know that I should have strong feelings about the rampant (perceived or actual) misogyny in the works of these authors. I know. Let’s just set that aside for now because you know what? I don’t want to hear it. This isn’t about what I should think or feel. It is about what I am or did or do think or feel.And that was completely devastated. I started the book on a rainy Friday night when Rachel and I wanted to be alone together, her at one end of the living room with video games and the dog, me curled up with my book and a glass of wine and the cool breeze. I was leaving Ann Arbor in four days, and my copy was checked out from the library, adding an extra urgency to the read. I went to bed early, woke early, and finished the first 70 pages by 7am, turning back into my pillow for a good, wrenching cry.“It doesn’t die; you’re the one that dies. It’s like the ocean: if you’re no good, if you begin to make a bad smell in it, it just spews you up somewhere to die. You die anyway, but I had rather drown in the ocean than be urped up onto a strip of dead beach and be dried away by the sun into a little foul smear with no name to it, just This Was for an epitaph.”I had things I needed to do – it was my last weekend in town – but I spent part of Saturday morning walking around in a daze, the mood heightened by the fine mist and the fact that I forgot my wallet at home, thus preventing me from buying coffee until far too late in the day for me to be actually functional. I felt like that U2 song whose video provided one of my earliest impressions of alternative music and memories of MTV from a summer visit to my grandparents, when I would sneak downstairs while they napped to watch cable in Grandpa’s huge naugahyde chair. The hugeness of the chair and the significance of the video have both diminished over time, as will, I suspect, the memory of the numbness of that morning, though there have been other mornings like it that have stuck with me for years and years.“It’s what we have come to work for, got into the habit of working for before we knew it, almost waited too late before we found it out.”In the titular story, a couple turns their back on all of the things society tells us to value – children, careers, friends, stability – for love, for love only, for love always.“Listen: it’s got to be all honeymoon, always. Either heaven, or hell: no comfortable safe peaceful purgatory between for you and me to wait in until good behavior or forbearance or shame or repentance overtakes us.”Do I even need to tell you that there can’t possibly be a happy ending? “That story ends very badly for all involved, you know.” “Don’t all the good ones?” And then there’s this, where I am right now, drinking bourbon in the back room of my new apartment in Pilsen, listening to the whistle of trains in the distance, scanning for the moon against the night sky.“You must do it in solitude and you can bear just so much solitude and stil 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.”The theorists would tell me that there is no meaning outside the text. The theorists would tell me that my reading is contextually bound. Most of the time I feel like the theorists are full of shit, but this one time, I’ll buy it. I’ll buy it because this story resonated with me in ways I didn’t anticipate. Because I recognized myself, my experience, my fears and desires in both the normalcy the couple fled, and the recklessness with which they embraced the impossible. Because I was thankful for the (slight) reprieve offered by Old Man, the story told in alternating chapters – of a convict facing similarly inexorable though completely different circumstances, choices, and actions. Because I was thankful to finish the book on a flight back from DC, surrounded on all sides by people, unable to completely lose my shit as I would have otherwise. Because I was thankful to finish the book at the end of the flight and on the eve of two extremely long, extremely draining days when I wouldn’t have time to read anything else, allowing the book to rest in my mind and on my heart in the same way that you might savor the first taste of something amazing, in the way that a first (or last) kiss lingers on your lips long after the physical sensation has passed into memory.“Because if memory exists outside of the flesh it wont be memory because it wont know what it remembers so when she became not then half of memory became not and if I become not then all of remembering will cease to be. – Yes he thought Between grief and nothing I will take grief.”This is the fourth of at least 10 books that I plan to read in the next year for my friend Mark’s 2/3 Challenge.


Two stories, one tragic and one darkly comic, alternate in successive chapters, five for each, in this influential experimental novel. The stories never touch, and probably occur in different years, though they both end in southern Mississippi. The juxtaposition of two stories related only obliquely in theme continues to have resonance in literature and film up to the present day.The comic story covers only a few months in the life of a convict who escapes while out doing relief work during a flood of the Mississippi River, probably the one of 1927. The tragedy takes place over several years during which two illicit lovers flee New Orleans and travel all over the country before coming to rest, with tragic consequences, on the Gulf Shore of southern Mississippi, probably some time in the '30's, but definitely not at a time of a river flood.The convict's accidental meeting of a woman about to have a baby, and his setting up house with her, though only briefly, is juxtaposed against the story of a married woman's passion for a young doctor, and their fleeing her husband and children in order to be together, and existential need and desire that neither of them can explain. The themes bounce off of each other in comic and tragic turns. IT's quite an amazing story, outside of Faulkner's usual Yoknapatawphaw County universe.


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.


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..."


¡¡¡Leído por Jose María Pou!!! Jo. Qué manera de leer, madre mía. Qué gozada.Vale, ya está. Uno de los mejores libros que he leído ultimamente pero el que más me ha echo sufrir con diferencia.Son dos historias que se intercalan sin que tengan nada que ver la una con la otra. Aunque una de ellas tiene mucha más intensidad y duración.Leerla es como ver una película de cine negro descarnado y despiadado, llena de frases y conversaciones lapidarias y no lógicas del todo.La historia principal va de una pareja que abandona todo absolutamente para vivir su amor. Pero en ese abandono de personas, cosas, familiares... también abandonan aparentemente la esperanza. Desnudan el amor de la posibilidad de que te mejore la vida, solo se aman por amarse y para amarse.Un amor descarnado que podría concebir quizá en dos enfermos, dos toxicómanos, dos seres abocados a la desgracia pero me cuesta vivirlo con dos personas que lo hacen por voluntad propia.Así hasta que se destruyen. No, se despedazan descarnadamente.La otra historia que transcurre en otro escenario, otras circunstancias y otra época es la de un hombre que renunca a amar, a ser libre, a vivir, con tal de estar en la carcel sin más esperanza.No sabemos bien por qué. Lo hace.

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.

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.


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

Luciano Losiggio

Dos historias. Ambas sobre el amor y las mujeres. Una sobre cómo lo valen, a pesar del dolor, el sufrimiento y los quilombos. La otra sobre cómo no. Todo contado por Faulkner. Traducido por Borges.


I'm only giving this book 3 stars even though it's by Faulkner, because it was a complete drag to read. I mean, it was painful. That said, I still liked the twist at the end, it was wicked and unexpected (ok, it wouldn't have been totally unexpected if I really thought about it), and the twist really enliven the book. And since the twist doesn't come until near the end of the book, I don't feel the book picks up the pace until the end either. Also, I have a feeling this is just Faulkner's writing style (I haven't read his other works so I have no clue, apologies if I'm wrong), but that man loves his extremely-complicated-and-near-incomprehensible-but-still-poetic run-on sentences, and paragraph length brackets. The writing is just so dense, and I'm sure that if each sentence was slowly read and dissected and analyzed down to the letter, each sentence is probably pure poetry, but when it just continues on and on and on...it just doesn't seem to flow as well.

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. [...]


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.


This is a very famous flood that is referenced in many novels, this book is referenced in the book my boyfriend was reading just after I finished this one. That book is: "Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story" by Nick ToschesWhat eloquence. I can't wait to read more faulkner. His sentences were mesmerizing in length and thought and still this small novel tied two stories together so well. Like the flooded tributaries of the Mississippi, so is this book on my mind. Its theme of struggle the current. are some of my favorites to read, but this book accomplished it so well in a raw and courageous brilliance. It uses some of the same beautiful ideas of freedom that i admired in jack kerouac's novels, but this is less poetic. some quotes: "we were too busy; we had rent and support a room for two robots to live in.""I was in eclipse" "I was outside of time." "I was still attached to it, supported by it in space as you have been ever since there was a not-you to become you, and will be until there is an end to the not-you by means of which alone you culd once have been--that's the immortality-- supported by it but that's all, just on it, non-conductive like the sparrow insulated by its own hard non-conductive dead feet from the from the high-tension line, the current of time that runs through remembering, that exists only in relation to what little of reality we know, else there is no such thing as time.""It was like the instant of virginity, it was the instant of virginity: that condition, fact, that does not actually exist except during the instant you know you are losing it...""If Jesus returned today we would have to crucify him quick in our own defense, to justify and preserve the civilization we have worked and suffered and died shrieking and cursing in rage and impotence and terror for two thousand years to create and perfect in man's own image; if Venus returned she would be a soiled man in a subway lavatory with a palm full of French postcards--" "...it was the mausoleum of love, it was the stinking catafalque of the dead corpse borne between the olfactoryless walking shapes of the immortal insentient demanding ancient meat.""... if They were to let us beat Them, it would be like unchecked murder and robbery. Of course we can't beat Them; we are doomed of course; that's why I am afraid."


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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