William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, in September 1897; he died in Mississippi in 1962. Faulkner achieved a reputation as one of the greatest American novelists of the 20th century largely based on his series of novels about a fictional region of Mississippi called Yoknapatawpha County, centered on the fictional town of Jefferson. The greatest of these novels—among them The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, and Absalom, Absalom!—rank among the finest novels of world literature.
Faulkner was especially interested in moral themes relating to the ruins of the Deep South in the post-Civil War era. His prose style—which combines long, uninterrupted sentences with long strings of adjectives, frequent changes in narration, many recursive asides, and a frequent reliance on a sort of objective stream-of- consciousness technique, whereby the inner experience of a character in a scene is contrasted with the scene's outward appearance—ranks among his greatest achievements. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949.
Absalom, Absalom! is perhaps Faulkner's most focused attempt to expose the moral crises which led to the destruction of the South. The story of a man hell-bent on establishing a dynasty and a story of love and hatred between races and families, it is also an exploration of how people relate to the past. Faulker tells a single story from a number of perspectives, capturing the conflict, racism, violence, and sacrifice in each character's life, and also demonstrating how the human mind reconstructs the past in the present imagination.
Many believe Faulkner made a mistake in describing Sutpen's house as built of brick at the beginning of the story, but in describing the fire that destroyed it we are made to see a wooden house burning to the ground.
This was no mistake. Consider the fall of Sutpen. He built a brick house, big as a courthouse, when he came as a symbol of his power over the people around him. A common wooden house would never suit Sutpen as we first know him. By the end of the story Sutpen is destroyed with no hope of redemption. A brick house, with w... Read more→
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I am reading this book for the first time for a classics book club. I've had a hard time following the story because the narrators seemed to change, description overtook plot and I lost who was who as the story developed. It was great to have a short synopsis and also a clarification about how Faulkner writes. The conclusion of the first chapter notes reminded me of when I see my optometrist and he tries out the different lenses to find a better view for me before he writes a prescription.