The Sound and the Fury, published in 1929, was William Faulkner's fourth novel and is considered his first masterpiece. The story is set in the fictional county of Yoknapatawpha that Faulkner created for the setting of his third novel Sartoris. Faulkner set fifteen of his novels and many short stories in this geographical location that he invented, the descriptions of which mirror the area in northern Mississippi where he spent most of his life. While he is called a Southern writer, most critics praise this book and many of Faulkner's other fictional works for their universal and humanistic themes. The book was published in the year of the great stock market crash on Wall Street in 1929 and sales were meager. Faulkner did, however, gain considerable critical recognition for the work.
Before writing The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner found himself overly involved with the problem of selling his previous books to publishers. He decided to refocus his attention back on his writing so that he could create a finely crafted work. The result was The Sound and the Fury. The inspiration for the novel came from one of his short stories, "Twilight." He had created the character of Caddy in this story. In a scene where Caddy has climbed a pear tree to look into the window where her grandmother's funeral is being held, her brothers are looking up at her and they see her muddy pants. Faulkner claimed he loved the character of Caddy so much that he felt she deserved more than a short story. Thus the idea for The Sound and the Fury was born.