Francesca M. Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course. Log in or Sign up. Have you ever found yourself wondering about your family's past?
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Maybe you cannot know when you first approach a novel to reread if it will live up to your recollection or sink like dead weight. Maybe, it will haunt you. Second time around though, no stunning surprises to keep the pages turning; the language of racism begins to feel gratuitous, painful yeah, yeah, I know, it was reflective of the times and attitudes of Civil War-era South, blah, blah, blah. For a Blue State liberal, some words become tiresome, painful. What was contextually acceptable the first time around, is more oppressive the second time.
I found it interesting that Faulkner was a clothes horse, fashionista in his youth—rendering him, perhaps, his own model for Charles Bon, who in turn becomes a model for Henry Sutpen. Apparently, Faulkner was also not a huge fan of people—hovering, talking, wanting something—I can relate. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
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Although the novel's complex and fragmented structure poses considerable difficulty to readers, the book's literary merits place it squarely in the ranks of America's finest novels. The story concerns Thomas Sutpen, a poor man who finds wealth and then marries into a respectabl Published in , Absalom, Absalom! The story concerns Thomas Sutpen, a poor man who finds wealth and then marries into a respectable family. His ambition and extreme need for control bring about his ruin and the ruin of his family.
Sutpen's story is told by several narrators, allowing the reader to observe variations in the saga as it is recounted by different speakers. This unusual technique spotlights one of the novel's central questions: To what extent can people know the truth about the past? Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published November 30th by Vintage first published More Details Original Title.
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Laduke Ely Yes, he is. Pretty sure Faulkner has a few more characters that appear and reappear throughout the Yoknapatawpha novels. This question contains spoilers… view spoiler [Why did Clytie set the house on fire? Like I don't understand why she would want to?
See all 4 questions about Absalom, Absalom! Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Absalom, Absalom! Apologies for previously having some snobbery in this review that I wrote 10 years ago which I have now edited.
In the interim 10 years I have had children and now have to read books about cat mermaids so karma has bit my ass aggressively. Her voice would not cease, it would just vanish.
View all 34 comments. The picture above was used on the first edition dust jacket published in by Random House. The hundred stands for a square miles, the geographic size of the plantation. The gist of all this is that Thomas Sutpen built himself an empire. These plantations were so large that it required an unbelievable amou The picture above was used on the first edition dust jacket published in by Random House. These plantations were so large that it required an unbelievable amount of human labor to keep them productive.
Mechanical invention had not advanced enough to provide the machines that the plantation owners needed to work such a large tract of land. When you own more land than you can work and there is not a labor pool available to sustain your industry Well, we know what they did, but what should they have done?
Around when cotton became king is when the demand for slaves escalated exponentially. The potato famine in Ireland happened in which brought thousands of displaced Irish to the United States, but this wave of immigration came too late to keep the South from becoming too economically dependent on slavery.
Now I'm not advocating turning the Irish immigrants or the Chinese immigrants who followed into slaves, but wouldn't it have been a better solution for our history if those plantation owners had adopted the flawed, but still better than slavery, system of tenant farmers?
Eventually technology would have caught up with the needs of large land owners which would have freed up the tenement farmers for the industrial work that made the North so strong. Maybe the availability of that labor pool would have encouraged manufacturing in the South. Some of the better tenement farmers would have become land owners themselves as plantations fell out of the hands of Southern aristocratic families due to the untimely death of a patriarch or because of mismanagement.
Not a perfect world, but a better world and maybe, just maybe we would have avoided a costly Civil War for which the South to this day has never fully recovered.
But then would Southern literature be the same? I have a grudging respect for Thomas Sutpen. As a boy he was asked to deliver a message to a wealthy plantation owner in Virginia. He watched the plantation owner lying in a hammock with his shoes off while a slave fanned him. Thomas was asked to go to the backdoor to deliver his message. He will never forget the slight. He lays awake at night thinking about what he can do about it. He does a stint in the West Indies and comes back to the United States, specifically Mississippi, with blacks speaking a strange language.
He came here with a horse and two pistols and a name which nobody ever heard before, knew for certain was his own anymore than the horse was his own or even the pistols, seeking some place to hide himself. Quentin Compson is the thread that sews the plot together. As Rosie Coldfield and his father and a host of other people tell him stories about Yoknapatawpha County his head becomes filled with a convoluted history of his birthplace.
His childhood was full of them; his very body was an empty hall echoing with sonorous defeated names; he was a being, an entity, he was a commonwealth. When he successfully rooked a drunken Indian out of some land they clucked about that, but then as he continued to gain influence and wealth, building a comfortable living out of nothing; they started to worry. This opportunity had been there for them their whole lives, but it took a man with daring from outside the county to see the potential or have the immorality to make it happen.
He took a wife descended from a good family and the community showed their disapproval by not showing up to the wedding. Undaunted, barely noticing that the community had turned against him, Thomas Sutpen forged forward siring a son and a daughter and building the life for himself he had coveted as a boy in Virginia.
The Civil War happens. Almost every able man is called up to serve. Thomas's son Henry is away from school and has become friends with Charles Bon who because of the encouragement of his mother has, at the advanced age of 28, decided to go back to school. He meets up with Henry and as the plot advances we find out that Charles Bon is Henry's half brother. Charles becomes engaged to Henry's sister Judith and of course she is also his half sister. As you might expect this causes much consternation in the family.
I really didn't think that Charles loved Judith. She was just the blank shape, the empty vessel in which each of them strove to preserve, not the illusion of himself nor his illusion of the other but what each conceived the other to believe him to be-the man and the youth, seducer and seduced who had known one another, seduced and been seduced, victimised in turn each by the other, conquerer vanquished by his own strength, vanquished conquering by his own weakness.
The book is riddled with incredible passages that would balloon this review up to megalithic proportions if I were to share them all with you. The layers of the story are frustrating and magnificent.
I equate this book to going to a family reunion and spending time with a great aunt, an uncle, and a grandparent and asking them each the same question. The story is told with lots of repetitiousness because the narrators know a lot of the same information; and yet, from each storyteller is gleaned a few more nuggets because each person who is solicited for the story has a unique perspective and is in possession of different pieces of the life puzzle.
I had moments where I wanted to deconstruct this story, strain out all the redundant information and write this story out in a linear fashion, but then it wouldn't be a masterpiece. It would just be another book telling a story about a slice of Southern history.
By writing this book, this way, Faulkner not only preserved a piece of Southern history, but also preserved the tradition of Southern oral storytelling.
Absalom, Absalom! by Faulkner: Summary & Characters
Maybe you cannot know when you first approach a novel to reread if it will live up to your recollection or sink like dead weight. Maybe, it will haunt you. Second time around though, no stunning surprises to keep the pages turning; the language of racism begins to feel gratuitous, painful yeah, yeah, I know, it was reflective of the times and attitudes of Civil War-era South, blah, blah, blah. For a Blue State liberal, some words become tiresome, painful.