Monday, November 9, 2009

Rereading a Classic: As I Lay Dying

I love to read things that correlate with places I've just been or am about to go. I'm so thrilled about this weekend when I'll be visiting Oxford, Mississippi, that I decided I better reread some Faulkner. The highlight of my weekend, of course, will be a visit to Rowan Oak, Faulkner's home. The highlight of my husband's weekend will be watching his Tennessee Vols take on Ole Miss.

My first exposure to William Faulkner happened at a time in my life when I needed reassurance that I had made the right decision. I was a sophomore in college and had a terrible time choosing a major because I just wasn't sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. Over Christmas break I decided on English because I'd always liked the courses and teachers, and had always done well in the classes. I was under the gun, maybe the last of my friends to declare her major. I picked it because I knew I'd enjoy it and decided to figure out a specific career path later. As it turns out, I loved majoring in English so much that I did it again in graduate school and I love my job as a freelance writer/editor. And, would I be writing a blog if I had majored in psychology, speech communication or fashion merchandising? Probably not. Or at least not quite like this. So, see, it has turned out well.

But when I came back from Christmas break my sophomore year, I rearranged my class schedule to drop classes from a discarded major and add two English courses: Survey of British Literature and Survey of American Literature.

I knew American literature would be my all-time favorite when I read my first Anne Bradstreet poem. I just didn't know how much I would love American lit until a few weeks later when the class began reading Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. Really, I think this novel is responsible for a lot of things where I am concerned, so here I am, 10 and a half years later, rereading it.

There is something about reading a book for the first time and loving it, but it is something else entirely when you revisit it after a long time and the plot and characters come back to you and it feels so familiar.

Check back later for more on my visit to Oxford.

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