First modern library edition of William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury & As I Lay Dying; inscribed by William Faulkner to lifelong friend Phil Stone
The Sound and the Fury & As I Lay Dying.
Item Number: 95312
New York: The Modern Library , 1946.
First modern library edition of Faulkner’s two great novels. Octavo, original cloth, pictorial endpapers. Association copy, inscribed by the author on the pastedown, “To Phil Stone from Bill Faulkner.” The recipient, Phil Stone and William Faulkner both hailed from Oxford, Mississippi, where they met in 1914. Stone, a law student, quickly became the Faulkner’s close friend and confidant; he was “uniquely fitted to serve as William Faulkner’s friend and mentor. He was a compulsive talker, a man who loved to teach and tell stories. Moved by impulses toward literary creation but lacking the drive to carry them through to fruition, he could satisfy them only vicariously. He would later say of himself, ‘I’m like an elaborate, intricate piece of machinery which doesn’t quite work'” (Blotner 44). As they grew older, Stone encouraged his friend’s literary interests: his secretaries typed Faulkner’s early work and he personally paid for the fine press publication of The Marble Faun, Faulkner’s first book. In turn, Faulkner would dedicate the three books of the Snopes Trilogy to Stone, and base characters on both Stone and his family. The lawyer Gavin Stevens, a major character in Intruder in the Dust and Knight’s Gambit, was based upon him. Near fine in a very good dust jacket. Housed in a custom cloth and chemise slipcase with gilt morocco spine label. Rare and desirable.
Although The Sound and The Fury is now considered one of top one hundred novels of the 20th century, it actually wasn’t initially received well upon publication. This was mostly due to the fact that at the time Faulkner wasn’t well-known as a novelist, although this was his fourth published work. Because he had not had much commercial success with his first few novels, it is believed that the publisher limited the initial printing run to 1,789 copies. It wasn’t until his novel Sanctuary was published in 1931 that he started being really noticed as a writer and more people started giving The Sound and The Fury more serious attention. The title of the book comes from the famous soliloquy of act 5, scene 5 of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Faulkner literally takes Shakespeare’s words and writes a "tale told by an idiot,"… in this case from the point of view of the members of the Compson family, who are former Mississippi aristocrats who fall into financial trouble and over a 30 year period, many of whom die tragically in one way or another…. Or as Shakespeare put it… “the way to dusty death”. Faulkner used a stream of consciousness method conceived by other novelists such as James Joyce and Virginia Wolf. Although this narrative style and lack of regard for sentence structure can often alienate new readers, it is considered a masterpiece by literary critics and scholars and played a large role in Faulkner’s receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949. Faulkner had stated to have written As I Lay Dying in six weeks with no revisions, and its stream-of-consciousness style suggests such an immersive spontaneity. “I set out deliberately to write a tour-de-force. Before I ever put pen to paper and set down the first word I knew what the last word would be and almost where the last period would fall” (William Faulkner on As I Lay Dying). “No man ever put more of his heart and soul into the written word than did William Faulkner. If you want to know all you can about that heart and soul, the fiction where he put it is still right there" (Eudora Welty).