Faulkner, William. Soldier’s Pay (1926).


There were books everywhere, on shelves, on window ledges, on chairs, on the floor: Jones saw the Old Testament in Greek in Several volumes, a depressing huge book on international law, Jane Austen and Les Contres Drolatiques in dog eared amity: a mutual supporting caress

Faulkner’s first novel about a maimed amnesiac soldier (and his two unlikely care takers) who comes home from WWI to a small Georgia town with a father in denial about his condition; a fiance who is naive, immature, and self absorbed; and the one girl who really loves him but whom he remembers not, is almost completely lacking in legal aspects [sentence comes in at 62 words, a feeble attempt a Faulknerian length, but an attempt all the same. The book itself is definite precursor to Faulkner’s later writing. He plays with language in this novel but not in nearly as mature a way as he would later in his career. Its not a great novel, but it isn’t a bad one either.

Legally speaking there are only two mentions of the law that I caught. The first is description of the Rector’s study which contains a “depressing huge volume on international law.” The second is that when Cecily and George get married (after premarital sex and a presumed pregnancy), it all becomes “legal.” Maybe the theme (if such a smidgeon of information can be called a theme is the age old intermingling of law and religion. The rector reads law, and the relationship is legal after a “priest in Atlanta” does the ceremony. Law and religion are the two things central in the society in this book. Religion is easy to spot through the Rector who plays an important role in the book. Law is a little more subtle, but if one recognizes that the entire town functions around the courthouse its centrality, though not emphasized in the book is nontheless there.

William Faulkner

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