Thursday, August 21, 2008

"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner

Source: Miette's Bedtime Story Podcast (mp3)
Length: 37 min
Reader: Miette

The story: This story defines "Southern Gothic" for me. Faulkner introduces us to the life of Emily Grierson, a spinster in a small Southern town. Although Miss Emily becomes more and more reclusive, we gain insights into her character through the details of brief encounters between her and the townspeople. In this way, Faulkner builds up a portrait of a genteel lady of the Confederacy whose pride is so strong it seems the only thing propping up her life.

Miss Emily reminds me of some of the elderly belles I knew when I lived in Middle Tennessee. None of these women I knew were old enough to have lived through The War, as the Civil War is sometimes still familiarly called, but they had the superior sense of entitlement that comes in the Deep South from being female, white, and from an old respectable family. Of course, the South has changed greatly since Faulkner's time - the rigid class structure has declined, racism is less pronounced, and life moves more quickly - but even now, if you're in the right place and know the right people you can still find the echoes of the Old South that are so dark and so fascinating.

Rating: 9/10

The reader: Miette has a lovely British accent that's quite charming. At first, I found it odd that a British accent should be reading a story about the South. Faulkner was from Oxford, Mississippi not that other Oxford. But, if I can enjoy Wodehouse read by an American, I certainly can love a Brit reading a story set in Dixie. The recording quality is amateur, but with no great flaws, it is an enjoyable listen.

(photo "Pink Roses in a Vase." (1915). George Eastman House Collection via flickr. No copyright restrictions.)

2 comments:

miette said...

It's really a remarkable story, isn't it? I read this one four or five times, an anomaly for the way I do the readings. Every time I'd make progress through the narrative and stumble upon something remarkable, which would choke me right up and leave me flustered and red-faced, and I'd need to start all over with the new knowledge. It has a cadence and avalanche-like structure that's very unlike most Southern fiction; I really loved reading it. Thanks for the kind notes!

xo
-- Mtte.

Listener said...

I know what you mean. It was difficult to review the story without giving anything away, so I eventually decided to just talk about the "Grand Southern Lady" in fiction and real life.