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Thread: Faulkner, Steinbeck, and Hemingway...where to start

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    Faulkner, Steinbeck, and Hemingway...where to start

    Ok, i have read a lot of modern novels such as the road, outer dark, life of pi, into the wild, etc...but i want to start reading some classic stuff. Of the three authors where would you start and what books would you start with.

    I am interested in all three just need a good push in that direction. Let me know what author i should start with and what novels of his would be the best to read first


    thanks in advance

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    Cool I would start with the easiest and work my way up the laddr ....

    Start with the Novels of Hemingway: The sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and To Have and Have Not. Steinbeck: Grapes of Wrath, In Dubious Battle, Of Mice and Men. Faulkner: As I Lay dying, The Sound and the Fury, and Absolam, Absolom. Of course each writer wrote many more novels and short stories, but these nine will get you going, and I hope you don't return to novels like you mentioned in your post. Also, you might want to include three novels by Scott Fitzgerald: This side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night.

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    dfloyd,

    thanks so much, are those pretty much the order you would read them in, or would you read one from each and then back to the first?

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    Registered User Travis_R's Avatar
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    Personally I'd suggest starting with Steinbeck, as his writing is the simplest and has the most dialogue. I'd start with The Grapes of Wrath. Next I would try my hand at Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby. I'm personally not a fan of Hemingway but you should at least read one of his novels. I'd recommend A Farewell to Arms. Lastly, Faulkner is probably the hardest to understand out of all listed, but The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying are absolute must reads. Try these after reading a bit of Steinbeck or Fitzgerald however.

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    I would start with Hemingway's In Our Time which was a collection of short stories he had published in 1925 prior to The Sun Also Rises. Although Faulkner was a couple of years older than Hemingway, and had actually been writing longer than Hemingway, it was 1929 before Faulkner really hit his stride with The Sound And The Fury. As For Steinbeck, he came later--in the latter 1930s

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    It doesn't matter significantly which you order you read them in, or what books to start with.

    Personally I read The Sun Also Rises first, followed by The Sound and the Fury, and The Grapes of Wrath (generally considered each author's best novel), and enjoyed The Sound and the Fury the best, followed by Hemingway. I am not a big fan of Steinbeck.

    When it comes to Hemingway and Faulkner (as I am far more familiar with these two than Steinbeck), you'll find that their writing styles could not differ more. Hemingway's novels (of which I have read around 4) tend to all be written in the same style and feature generally the same themes, i.e. alienation and submersion of feelings in the modern world. Faulkner, too, often deals with the same themes, in his case, history, the decay of Southern tradition, and existential topics such as consciousness and being. Overall I prefer both Faulkner's style and theme to Hemingway's, though I enjoy both.

    There's a good thread on starting out on Faulkner already on this forum, generally you should start out with something like The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, or Light in August, and avoid Absalom, Absalom! to start. With Hemingway, any book will do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis_R View Post
    Personally I'd suggest starting with Steinbeck, as his writing is the simplest and has the most dialogue. I'd start with The Grapes of Wrath. Next I would try my hand at Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby. I'm personally not a fan of Hemingway but you should at least read one of his novels. I'd recommend A Farewell to Arms. Lastly, Faulkner is probably the hardest to understand out of all listed, but The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying are absolute must reads. Try these after reading a bit of Steinbeck or Fitzgerald however.
    I agree totally with this advice, and the critical assessments! Except, I haven't read the Sound and the Fury. I read 'As I lay dying' recently, which is the hardest read, but is a good introduction to modernism. If you like it, then you might like to tackle Joyce's Portrait, which offers similar difficulties. If you breeze through these works then why not try some non-American classics? Some examples where the writing is (just about!) as straightforward as Steinbeck's (but better: "The Cossacks" by Tolstoy (shorter than his most well known novels!), "Madame Bovary" by Flaubert, Tess by Thomas Hardy, Bleak House by Dickens, and Middlemarch by George Eliot.

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    Ajax090 -

    It matters not what order you read them in, but just know that Faulkner is the hardest read. It always amazes me how respondents on this forum try to give advice never asked for; ie, you ask about Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Faulkner and right away you get advice about Hardy and others. I had an employee once who when given instructions immediately started on a tangent which I didn't want him pursuing. I asked for A; he came back with B. At first I let him ramble since I didn't want to squelch creativity, but when it became too irritating, I fired him!

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    It amazes me that some respondents in this forum never want to go off at tangents. I like it when people give advice I've never asked for, that's when I'm likely to learn something new. Does anyone know why sad music is so beautiful?

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    Conceptually, Steinbeck is the most simplistic. So, I guess you could say the easiest. Stylistically, Faulkner and Hemingway are opposites: Faulkner's style is dense while Hemingway is a mimimalist. Faulkner is hardest to understand because of his writing style.

    For Steinbeck, I don't care much for Of Mice and Men. I think Cannery Row is much better. And I recommend The Grapes of Wrath.

    Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bells Toll, A Farewell to Arms--I also like his stories, especially A Clean Well Lighted Place.

    Faulkner: As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury

    After reading Hemingway, try some of the short stories of Raymond Carver.

    Other classic novels of modern American literature to consider are: The Great Gatsby, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Catch 22, The Catcher in the Rye, Lolita
    The answers you get from literature depend upon the questions you pose.
    - Margaret Atwood

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    Quote Originally Posted by myrna22 View Post
    For Steinbeck, I don't care much for Of Mice and Men. I think Cannery Row is much better. And I recommend The Grapes of Wrath.
    I agree, Cannery Row is excellent. A good one to read after "Grapes" to see the lighter side of Steinbeck. I had a chance to see Cannery Row after reading the novel--not a good experience, they've changed it into a Steinbeck tourist trap...

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    Hemingway The Old Man and the Sea or The sun Also Rises
    Faulkner Go Down Moses
    Steinbeck I like East of Eden but Grapes of Wrath is a good place to start.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis_R View Post
    Personally I'd suggest starting with Steinbeck, as his writing is the simplest and has the most dialogue.
    Agree to that. 'Of Mice and Men' and 'The Moon is Down' are both novellas, very readable and very gripping.

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    I think that we should start with william faulkner: Light in August. personally I'm interested in this book. I want to explore the depths and the perspectives of this book.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ajax090 View Post
    Ok, i have read a lot of modern novels such as the road, outer dark, life of pi, into the wild, etc...but i want to start reading some classic stuff. Of the three authors where would you start and what books would you start with.

    I am interested in all three just need a good push in that direction. Let me know what author i should start with and what novels of his would be the best to read first


    thanks in advance
    You say you want to 'start reading some classic stuff.' I'm not dismissing your specific interest in Faulkner, Hemingway and Steinbeck, though I wonder from what that interest arises. However, I want to make the point that those particular authors are a limited representation of classic American literature and all come from a mid-20th century perspective. Some other American classics that may be of interest are (and this is not meant to be a definitive list):

    Lolita, Vladimirovich Nabokov
    The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles
    Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
    The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
    The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
    Main Street, Sinclair Lewis
    Slaughter House Five, Kurt Vonnegut
    Native Son, Richard Wright
    The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison

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