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Faulkner First Lines ...

The following passages are the opening lines of William Faulkner’s novels. Can you identify which novel?

 

Behind the smokehouse that summer, Ringo and I had a living map. Although Vicksburg was just a handful of chips from the woodpile and the River a trench scraped from the packed earth with the point of a hoe, it (river, city, and terrain) lived, possessing even in miniature that ponderable though passive recalcitrance of topography which outweighs artillery, against which the most brilliant of victories and the most tragic of defeats are but the loud noises of moment.

 

 

 

The jury said "Guilty" and the Judge said "Life" but he didn't hear them.

 

 

 

Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.

 

 

 

For a full minute Jiggs stood before the window in a light spatter of last night's confetti lying against the windowbase like spent dirty foam, lightpoised on the balls of his greasestained tennis shoes, looking at the boots.

 

 

 

Long before the first bugles sounded from the barracks within the city and the cantonments surrounding it, most of the people in the city were already awake.

 

 

 

From beyond the screen of bushes which surrounded the spring, Popeye watched the man drinking.

 

 

 

Grandfather said:

This is the kind of a man Boon Hogganbeck was. Hung on the wall, it could have been his epitaph, like a Bertillon chart or a police poster; any cop in north Mississippi would have arrested him out of any crowd after merely reading the date.

 

 

 

The courthouse is less old than the town, which began somewhere under the turn of the century as a Chickasaw agency trading-post and so continued for almost thirty years before it discovered, not that it lacked a depository for its records and certainly not that it needed one, but that only by creating or anyway decreeing one, could it cope with a situation which otherwise was going to cost somebody money;....

 

 

 

"The sex instinct," repeated Mr. Talliaferro in his careful cockney, with that smug complacence with which you plead guilty to a characteristic which you privately consider a virtue, "is quite strong in me. Frankness, without which there can be no friendship, without which two people cannot really ever ‘get' each other, as you artists say; frankness, as I was saying, I believe—"

 

 

 

Sitting beside the road, watching the wagon mount the hill toward her, Lena thinks, ‘I have come from Alabama: a fur piece. All the way from Alabama a-walking. A fur piece.'

 

 

 

Old man Falls roared: "Cunnel was settin' thar in a cheer, his sock feet propped on the po'ch railin', smokin' this hyer very pipe...."

 

 

 

Frenchman's Bend was a section of rich river-bottom country lying twenty miles southeast of Jefferson. Hill-cradled and remote, definite yet without boundaries, straddling into two counties and owning allegiance to neither, it had been the original grant and site of a tremendous pre-Civil War plantation, the ruins of which —the gutted shell of an enormous house with its fallen stables and slave quarters and overgrown gardens and brick terraces and promenades—were still known as the Old Frenchman's place, although the original boundaries now existed only on old faded records in the Chancery Clerk's office in the county courthouse in Jefferson, and even some of the once-fertile fields had long since reverted to the cane-and-cypress jungle from which their first master had hewn them.

 

 

 

It was just noon that Sunday morning when the sheriff reached the jail with Lucas Beauchamp though the whole town (the whole county too for that matter) had known since the night before that Lucas had killed a white man.

 

 

 

The knocking sounded again, at once discreet and peremptory, while the doctor was descending the stairs, the flashlight's beam lancing on before him down the brownstained stairwell and into the brown-stained tongue-and-groove box of the lower hall.

 

 

 

From a little after two oclock until almost sundown of the long still hot weary dead September afternoon they sat in which Miss Coldfield still called the office because her father had called it that— a dim hot airless room with the blinds all closed and fastened for forty-three summers because when she was a girl someone had believed that light and moving air carried heat and that dark was always cooler, and which (as the sun shone fuller and fuller on that side of the house) became latticed with yellow slashes full of dust motes which Quentin thought of as being flecks of the dead old dried paint itself blown inward from the scaling blinds as wind might have blown them.

 

 

 

I wasn't born yet so it was Cousin Gowan who was there and big enough to see and remember and tell me afterward when I was big enough for it to make sense.

 

 

 

Isaac McCaslin, 'Uncle Ike', past seventy and nearer eighty than he ever corroborated any more, a widower now and uncle to half a county and father to no one

 

 

This page was last modified on Monday, October 09, 2000 at 11:56 AM -0500

Copyright © 1995-2001 by John B. Padgett


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