Review / Sanctuary by William Faulkner

Pages: 317 / Publishing: Vintage International / Buy Here

A man in jail innocent of the murder he is accused of and a kidnapped debutante. In his novel Sanctuary, William Faulkner depicts a USA full of crime and deceit.

Temple Drake, a rich judge’s daughters enjoys life to the fullest. On one of her adventures, her male companion crashes their car and they search for help at a nearby house where the inhabitants make black-annealed alcohol. Her appearance unsettles the men there, wakens their desires and at the end, one of them is dead and the debutante taken away to a whore house.

Meanwhile, the recently seperated lawyer Horace Benbow takes on the case. His client refuses to give any detail, believing that his innocence will clear him of any doubt. Benbow nonetheless investigates and sets the tragedy in motion.

„Jazzing?“ Temple whispered, holding the child, looking herself no more than an elongated and leggy infant in her scantdress and uptilted head.

Sanctuary was heavily rewritten by the author after being proof-read by his editors. Faulkner, who became famous with his two earlier novels The Sound and the Fury and As I lay dying did not believe this work to be equally good.

Although Sanctuary is an enthralling crime novel, the author’s way of writing is doing much to repel the reader. Faulkner, wishing to establish the perfect south state atmosphere, goes overboard with a figurative language. When he describes a headless Temple Draking running around the house in a frenzy one is likely to feel the wish to smack her over the head oneself. Of the characters, one is more despicable than the other. Neither Temple Drake, the spoilt girl, nor Benbow’s sister who cares more for her reputation than justice, have any redeeming qualities.


William Faulkner received much praise for his debuting which I am sure he deserved. That Sanctuary could not live up to that standard was clear to him which is the reason I will not shy away from Faulkner’s novel on the basis of this less-likable reading experience.

Tassen-1von5

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