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Absalom, Absalom! - The Most Faulknerian Faulkner Book

Uploaded by Quest4Glory on Jun 19, 2005

This novel is a historical reconstruction by the fictional Quentin Compson (from "The Sound and the Fury") of the long ago rise of Thomas Sutpen out of a bog of obscurity to become a wealthy landowner in Mississippi, only to have it all destroyed again. It features all of the bugaboos one expects of Southern or Gothic literature--rumors of miscegenation, incest, murder, love, and betrayal. In the telling of the story, Faulkner also uses Sutpen's history as an allegory of the South itself.
Anyone can tell a story, especially a story that is essentially as old as the hills as this one. What makes this book, of course, is the style in which Faulkner narrates it. In terms of language, this is the most excessive, Baroque, verbose, garrulous and thick verbiage Faulkner has ever laid down at this length. It's like Section 4 of "The Bear" for 300 pages, and features at least one notorious 1.5 page long sentence. I strongly recommend you take a peek at the first page available here, and then imagine that going on ceaselessly until the end of the book. True, it can be very tiresome--Faulkner is a demanding author--but it also has a way of getting into your blood, if you let it, so that the text becomes unbearably effective and powerful.

The structure of the novel is equally elaborate. Faulkner spent his entire career as a writer discovering ways to project narrative into a character's voice, rather than directly narrating himself. As such, you get things like Bob and James talking about how Jane related the story of Rex witnessing Sue and Melanie talking about Larry murdering who he suspected his wife was sleeping with. [This example is illustrative, and bears no relation to the book.) In the final analysis, this means knowing exactly what happens becomes difficult to follow in general, and perhaps unknowable. Of course, part of Faulkner's point is precisely that only we, here and now, can reproduce or guess at the history of our pasts, and it is those reconstructed histories that we live by, rather than the actual historical reality (whatever it was).

This is a difficult book by one of the United States most difficult authors. It is also one of the best books by one of our best authors. The relationship between Sutpen's children and the half-brothers is one of the most effective he ever penned; not since "The...

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Uploaded by:   Quest4Glory

Date:   06/19/2005

Category:   Literature

Length:   2 pages (516 words)

Views:   4938

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