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Reading Groups

William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying with Elizabeth Howard

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Once a week Wednesdays, 6:30 pm EDT - 8:00 pm EDT October 4 to October 25, 2023

The Center for Fiction

The ‘With Book’ option includes a copy of As I Lay Dying at a 10% discount from our Bookstore.

As I Lay Dying, published in 1930, is considered one of the significant novels of the 20th century. The title is derived from William Marris’s 1925 translation of Homer’s Odyssey, referencing the similar themes of both works. A number of well-known writers have noted being influenced by the novel, and these include Graham Swift, Damon Galgut, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Jesmyn Ward, to name a few.

In conversations around the novel, one can look at the multiple voices Faulkner uses as he removes himself and divides the narrative into fifty-nine separate monologues, each spoken or thought by one of fifteen characters. There is no exposition, no description of character or action outside of the way the characters see themselves, one another, and the events in which they are involved.

The book can be described as an experiment in modernism and considers the alienation of the artist—or the alienation of the individual from what is happening within the culture.

With the influence of this novel on writers and the current period of disruption and transformation in society, there is value in reading this novel and thinking about its impact on contemporary fiction.

I encourage participation and readings outside of the text that will educate participants.

Meeting Details:
Wednesdays, 6:30–8pm ET
10/4, 10/11, 10/18, 10/25
In-Person at The Center for Fiction

  • Session I: Read to page 68
  • Session II: Read to page 136
  • Session III: Read to page 205
  • Session IV: Read to the end

Led By

  • Elizabeth Howard

    Elizabeth Howard

    Elizabeth Howard

    Elizabeth Howard grew up with a passion for books and reading. Her articles have appeared in Corporate Board Member, Communication Arts, European Communications, Investor Relations, Law Firm Marketing & Profit Report, Communication World, the Strategist, and the New York Law Journal, among others. Queen Anne’s Lace and Wild Blackberry Pie, a book of reflections on growing up in New Hampshire, was published by Thornwillow Press in 2011. Her other books include A Day with Bonefish Joe (David R. Godin, 2015) and she edited Ned O’Gorman: A Glance Back (Easton Studio Press, 2016). She was the inaugural Madeleine L’Engle Fellow at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

    She is the producer and host of a podcast, the Short Fuse, that can be found on Spotify, Amazon Music, Simplecast and through the Arts Fuse, the online journal of criticism and commentary. Through the Short Fuse, she is often in conversations with authors.

    Elizabeth Howard lives in New York City.