Years ago, when I first read Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, I was stunned by it. I was especially affected by the disembodied voice of the character at the center of the novel, Addie Bundren, and was compelled to commit to memory some of what she said. “I feel my body, my bones and flesh beginning to part and open upon the alone,” she tells us, “and the process of coming unalone is terrible.” The last words of this line are themselves terrible, and somehow, even then, I understood through poesy what I would not have been able to bear otherwise.


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