Friday, February 12, 2010



A Fable, William Faulkner, Random House Inc, 1954, 437 pp

In my humble opinion, ever since William Faulkner won the Nobel Prize in 1949, his writing went steeply downhill. This novel, published in 1954, won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1955. I found it nearly incomprehensible.

After 100 pages, I went to Google in desperation. As I should have guessed from the title, it is an allegory which juxtaposes WWI and the Christ story. OK. Fine. There is a story with characters buried deeply inside Faulkner's longest sentences ever, but I found it hard to care. 

Some soldiers decide to mutiny one morning by refusing to fire their weapons and actually stop the war for a week or so. Among the characters are an instigator or two; a strange trio of women keep showing up; I was pretty sure I figured out who the Christ figure was; but it was hard going, even for me. Some books are just meant to be read in school.

Actually I could glean that Faulkner was grappling with some big ideas about war, its causes, what makes men become soldiers, what makes them fight, and the power of a few individuals to put a stop to it all by just refusing to play. I settled for that. 

(A Fable is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)


  1. I have about 40 pages to go... and basically am suffering the same way you have. There was a Peter that denied him and a Polchek that betrayed him. Having a hell of time figuring out if the General is God, Lucifer, or Pilate. It's nice to know I'm not the only person in the world who's picked up the gauntlet on this one.

  2. Thanks for your comment Atticus. You went deeper than I did in figuring out those characters. Have you read other books by Faulkner? I loved Absalom, Absalom. Somehow Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon reminded me of that Faulkner novel.