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Reading Faulkner

Reading Faulkner: Absalom, Absalom!

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Reading Faulkner
    Book Description:

    Absalom, Absalom!has long been regarded as one of William Faulkner's most difficult, dense, and multilayered novels. It is, on one level, the story of Thomas Sutpen, an enigmatic stranger who came to Jefferson in the early 1830s to wrest his mansion out of the muddy bottoms of the north Mississippi wilderness. He was a man, Faulkner said, "who wanted sons and the sons destroyed him." On another level, the book narrates the tragedy that befalls the entire Sutpen family and that tragedy's legacy that continues well into the twentieth century and beyond. The novel's intricate, demanding prose style, and its haunting dramatization of the South's intricate, demanding history make it a masterpiece of twentieth-century American literature.

    Reading Faulkner: Absalom, Absalom!offers a close examination and interpretation of the novel. Here difficult words and cultural terms that might prove to be a problem for general readers are explained and keyed to page numbers in the definitive Faulkner text (Library of America and Vintage editions). The authors place Faulkner's novel in its historical context, while also connecting it to his other works.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-435-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    Noel Polk
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Joseph R. Urgo and Noel Polk

    When he completedAbsalom, Absalom!in May 1936, Faulkner said, “I think it’s the best novel yet written by an American” (Blotner 364). That assessment remains valid. It is also among the most demanding of American novels, one which, as one critic said in 1954, “should have no casual readers” (Scott 219). What we found in applying the methods of the Reading Faulkner series toAbsalom, Absalom!is that the novel has in fact had generations of casual readers (including both of us) who have understandably been drawn to a handful of critical, powerfully meaningful passages, while too often leaving...

    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. ABSALOM, ABSALOM! Glossary and Commentary
    (pp. 1-200)

    TitleAbsalom, Absalom!Numerous critics have discussed the meaning of the title. Faulkner took it from 2 Samuel 18:33, which records King David’s reaction to the death of his rebellious son: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” While the biblical reference affirms the son, it is not apparent in Faulkner’s title alone who that son is—Henry, Bon, Quentin, or Sutpen himself. Nor is it apparent how David’s plaint that he wants to die for his son applies to the novel’s presumptive king, Thomas...

    (pp. 201-204)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 205-207)