Over 80 years after The Sound and the Fury made its debut on the literary stage, the novel which would go on to become one of the classics of 20th-century American literature is finally being published the way William Faulkner intended.
The four sections of the book, which tells of the disintegration of a southern family, move back and forth through time. Faulkner had hoped to use different colours of ink to mark the sometimes-confusing chronological shifts, writing on its publication in 1929: “I wish publishing was advanced enough to use colored ink … I’ll just have to save the idea until publishing grows up.”
Instead, the Nobel prize-winning author had to be content with using italics to convey different periods in time, and what he called the “unbroken-surfaced confusion” of Benjy’s narrative, the first section of the novel which is told from the perspective of an adult with the mind of a child. “If I could only get it printed the way it ought to be with different color types for the different times in Benjy’s section recording the flow of events for him, it would make it simpler, probably. I don’t reckon, though, it’ll ever be printed that way, and this’ll have to be the best, with the italics indicating the changes of events,” said Faulkner.
Now, following a suggestion from a member, the Folio Society has worked with two Faulkner scholars, Stephen Ross and Noel Polk, for the past year to pin down the different time periods in the novel, and is publishing the first ever coloured-ink edition of The Sound and the Fury on Friday 6 July, to mark the 50th anniversary of the author’s death.