A Fable (Vintage International)

A Fable (Vintage International)

Posted by jack_miller | Published 10 months ago

With 35 ratings

By: William Faulkner

Purchased At: $29.95

This novel won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 195. An allegorical story of World War I, set in the trenches in France and dealing ostensibly with a mutiny in a French regiment, it was originally considered a sharp departure for Faulkner. Recently it has come to be recognized as one of his major works and an essential part of the Faulkner oeuvre. Faulkner himself fought in the war, and his descriptions of it "rise to magnificence," according to The New York Times, and include, in Malcolm Cowley's words, "some of the most powerful scenes he ever conceived."
This is a very challenging, but rewarding read. Faulkner, in his usual way, creates a world that presents serious philosophical and religious themes in an attempt to make us all think deeply about our moral life on earth He drives to the raw bone in his exploration of our human nature and presents a dialectic that transcends time and historical period. So if you are expecting a novel about WWI, you will be disappointed. My favorite part of the novel, ironically, is the chapter that seemingly is misplaced because it does not take place in WWI ---- the chapter about the race horse. What a powerful part of the novel---- unforgetable! And the link to the rest of the novel is unique, penetrating and transcendent. It really made me think about the choices we have in life. I am not sure if this is Faulkner's best work, as I am a huge fan of As I Lay Dying and Absalom Absalom, but it is definitely worth the read and worth the time. Don't give up, just keep reading and it will begin to pull you deep into your soul and pose profound questions that each and everyone of us must answer for ourselves. In that sense, it is a very deeply religious novel. If only going to church could be as cleansing as reading this book. Stay the course -- the last 100 pages will leave you pondering your humanity in a way you have never done before.

- ingrid_young

A Fable was a National Book Award recipient and is a typical overwrought account of a French mutiny in World War I. It is also a veiled fable of the Passion of Christ. However, there are some readable nuggets of tales within the novel, including a three-legged racehorse and its owners, some exciting air battles, the three women who travel far for the fate of the Christ-like figure, the assigning of three American soldiers to execute a German officer who insists upon being executed from his front, the fatal decision of the Christ-figure to die when he could have had his freedom, the story of the one who is considered to be a Judas, the bizarre episode of French soldiers being sent out to bring back bodies from a devastated war zone (They trade one body for some wine) and then they return to retrieve the Christ figure's body for the three pleading women.A Fable is difficult to read but challenging. That is why one reads Faulkner--Right? Faulkner won several awards, including the National Book Award. In 1949 he received the Noble Prize for Literature.

- mohammed_rogers

William Faulkner considers A Fable his masterpiece. It won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1955 (one of only a handful of books to win both in the same year). These accolades, however, have not led to widespread acclaim or longevity for the novel, and for years it was relegated to afterthought status, deemed "minor" Faulkner, and available only as a cheap, hard to read paperback or as a part of an expensive anthology.

As Faulkner is my favorite writer, and as I am, by nature, a completist, I read A Fable (a library copy that was easier to read than the pulp paperback) a few years back, despite the warnings that it was difficult - even impossible -to read, despite the cautions that slogging through it was not worth the effort...and I loved it.

Now that Vintage International has re-released it (along with most of Faulkner's other novels) in a beautiful new paperback edition, I decided to reread it, apprehensive that I might have overestimated the novel's strengths, having been 26 when I first read it - but I had not. If anything, I found the novel even more brilliant and illuminating on second reading.

This is not your typical Faulkner (as another reviewer pointed out) but it is far from "minor" Faulkner. This book is, at times, difficult, but what Faulkner isn't? - and who would even consider reading any Faulkner if they didn't want to be challenged? And, when compared to some of his other masterworks (The Sound and the Fury or Absalom, Absalom! for example) it is actually a quick, surprisingly easy read.

A Fable has much in common with the aforementioned Absalom, Absalom! in that it focuses more on the human condition and the various aspects of human nature than on character-driven narrative. The characters here, as in Absalom, Absalom! are allegorical representations of diverse facets of humanity, playing out, in their myriad interactions, the eternal struggles we have faced for millennia (the endeavoring for peace in uncertain times, the concepts of forgiveness, and bravery, and heroism, and love, the striving to find meaning and redemption in the world). The lack of traditional characterization in no way undermines A Fable's emotional impact, for we can see, as a result, expressions of ourselves - and our world and history - within these characters.

While A Fable essentially tells (allegorically) the story of Christ and his Apostles, culminating in his "crucifixion" and eventual "resurrection" in the French trenches of World War I, it is not really a religious novel; it never gets bogged down in religious theology, never seems heavy-handed, never becomes either preachy or blasphemous. So too with its anti-war themes: it makes its case by focusing on war as a curse of mankind (and a product of our species' ongoing internal conflict), not by politicizing it or proselytizing upon it. As a result, A Fable achieves a universality found only in the best works of literature, speaking to that that is good - and not so good - in all of us.

The rewards of reading this book cannot be overstated: this is vast, inspired, passionate and virtuosic writing. (Consider the following description: "Her face [was] quite empty for the moment but with something incipient and tranquilly promising about it like a clean though not-yet-lighted lamp on the kitchen bureau.") A Fable is Faulkner at his best, and that is really saying something. Hopefully, now that Vintage International has brought it out in an edition worthy of its merits, it will continue to receive, on a larger and larger scale, the attention and commendation that is deserves. For A Fable is not just a Faulkner masterpiece; it is a literary masterpiece, a masterpiece of all time.

- peyton_flores

If Faulkner novels like As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury aren't your style, try this novel. It is much easier to read and doesn't require an additional study guide to figure out what is going on in the story.

- connor_parker

Classic William Faulkner! I'm surprised that today's scholars see this book as one of Faulkner's lesser works. It won a Pulitzer and a National Book Award which certainly has to mean something. I see it as one of Faulkner's works that will have a prominent place on my bookshelf.

- adelaide_ramos

I had to read and re-read numerous sections of this book hoping to understand what Faulkner was getting at with this story and sadly, I never did get it. I knew that this was going to be a difficult book but not to the point that it discourages a person to never want to pick up another book. Faulkner's language and structure was not beautiful but forced and didn't seem to come natural like it had for me in his other works. There were times when I was reading when I thought that Faulkner was enjoying himself ramble aboout a non-sensical detail that left me frustrated and wanting to put the book down for good, but I carried on and finished the book.

The book had its moments but not enough of them to make a clear and understandable story for me. Read at your own risk of being completely disappointed with Faulkner's A Fable.

- dream_ramirez

Faulkner is unsurpassed at drawing you in so you feel you are living his characters the way they are living.

- logan_alvarez

This was a great book with great appearance. I strongly recommend this leather bound book to any Faulkner lovers. Blacksea

- bria_lee

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