William Faulkner wrote his fifth novel, As I Lay Dying, in only six weeks in 1929. It was published after very little editing in 1930. The novel tells the story of the Bundren family traveling to bury their dead mother. The novel is famous for its experimental narrative technique, which Faulkner began in his earlier novel Sound and the Fury: fifteen characters take turns narrating the story in streams of consciousness over the course of fifty-nine, sometimes overlapping sections. At the time, Faulkner’s novel contributed substantially to the growing Modernist movement. He was no doubt influenced by the work of Sigmund Freud, whose theories about the subconscious were made increasingly popular in the 1920s. Faulkner’s novel regards subconscious thought as more important than conscious action or speech; long passages of italicized text within the novel would seem to reflect these inner workings of the mind. Faulkner’s prolific career in writing is marked by his 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature and two Pulitzer Prizes, one in 1955 and the other in 1962.
As I Lay Dying might be one of the most important works in American Literature, but it just sounds to us like the greatest of all childhood games: The Oregon Trail. But let us demonstrate: