Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Intruder in the Dust by William Faulkner

The main story in this novel involves a black man called Lucas Beauchamp who is wrongly accused of the murder of a white man. The story is told through the eyes of Charles Mallison, a sixteen-year-old who Beauchamp rescued from drowning four years earlier. Charles sets out to prove that Beauchamp did not fire the fatal shot and must prove this before a mob breaks into the jail-house and lynches Beauchamp. Together with his black friend Aleck and Miss Habersham, an elderly spinster they go on a mission to exhume the body of the murdered man- and make an unexpected discovery.

The above sounds like the plot of a thriller and indeed there are thrilling almost noir-ish elements which Faulkner uses to explore race relations in the south (and boy does Faulkner sometimes bash his message on the heads of the reader.)

This was my first Faulkner novel and it was not nearly as difficult as I imagined it would be, I struggled far more with reading Sam Bellow than I did with this one. Yes the writing is unusual (stream of consciousness involving page long sentences for a start) but I was able to easily let myself flow with the prose and see where it took me.

I enjoyed lots about this novel, the plot is a great one, the characters well drawn and the sense of the South as a place and culture are very prominent. While this is not considered to be Faulkner's best (and I didn't particularly like some of the preachy aspects in this novel) I look forward to reading more of his work.

Posted by Jess


  1. While I loved As I Lay Dying, the only other Faulkner novel I've read is The Sound and the Fury. I really need to read more. I'm glad to hear this one wasn't too difficult. TSATF was very, very hard!!

  2. You are much braver than me. I sucessfully managed to avoid reading four Faulkner novels on my degree course (this wasn't one of them).
    They are all still sat on my shelf, and I keep picking them up and putting them down again. One day I must read one!