We will be generous and expansive here and say that modernism was a legitimate moment in literary time and that there are good reasons for reading The Sound and the Fury, but we will tell you straight up that we are still not through with it – it sits in its lumpen green cover on the piano waiting to go either upstairs to bed or over to the club chair but obviously not in any hurry to go anywhere. It’s a punishing read. It just is. And we think the world of some of its biggest advocates, including the spectacularly charming emeritus professor from Miami who Actually Met Faulkner.
But then there’s Possession. Mrs Wolfe warned us off of Possession twenty years ago. We seem to recall that she thought it was too clever by half or at least so erudite that it would irritate. But then we read The Virgin in the Garden which wore us down to where we caved in and liked it in the end, and then we met ASB and she was awfully nice even though she bored our daughter senseless, and we were in the middle of The Children’s Book when the Dame came to dine, so we understood what it was she was defending from the majestic Hyatt lectern. So since Mrs Wolfe had trundled out the family copy of Possession to have it signed and since it hasn’t yet been put away because we are v. v. slow to shelve in the Wolfe household, we have taken to reading it. And, unlike The S & The F we genuinely look forward to picking it up and spending time on the great doorstop even though it is not modern and even though you have to read every last detail to get the picture she’s drawing for you and even though it keeps interfering with our career as a thriller reader, and we will keep at it with pleasure until it is done.
If there is anyone else out there in the Stacked universe who has tackled both Faulkner and Byatt and lived to tell the tale, we would be really really curious to see some comments about why we should finish that ridiculous book.