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82 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gateway to Faulkner
This book, in my opinion, is the best introduction to Faulkner possible where the reader has a chance to become accustomed to the sentence structure (to some extent: the longest sentence in The Unvanquished doesn't seem to run for even a page, making this quite simplistic by Faulknerian standards) without having to worry about an overly confused plot. Although there...
Published on July 5, 2000 by M. E.

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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sartoris Redux
Although published in 1938, the initial appearance of this novel can be traced to September 1934. Pressed for cash, Faullkner sent off the first of a series of short stories, dealing with the adolescent adventures of two boys during the Civil War, to the Saturday Evening Post and Scribners Magazine. The idea of collecting these stories into a "novel" was first proposed...
Published on May 15, 2006 by Jerry Clyde Phillips


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82 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gateway to Faulkner, July 5, 2000
This review is from: The Unvanquished: The Corrected Text (Paperback)
This book, in my opinion, is the best introduction to Faulkner possible where the reader has a chance to become accustomed to the sentence structure (to some extent: the longest sentence in The Unvanquished doesn't seem to run for even a page, making this quite simplistic by Faulknerian standards) without having to worry about an overly confused plot. Although there are parts where the reader will have to back up and read a passage over, it is far more straightforward than others of Faulkner's works.
This story chronicles the growth of Bayard Sartoris from the child who thinks war is a game (even though it isn't all that far from him) and can't imagine the consequences when he plays his games a little too close to the Yankees (Ambuscade) into a man who, when faced with the tragedy of his father's demise, must make this decision: who lives by the sword shall die by it--is it time to change the Southern tradition of bloodshed?
It is also the story of the South as it undergoes its most severe upheaval in its history: the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the effect on its people.
In my opinion, the best way to get acquainted with Faulkner is to begin with The Unvanquished. Once you're done with that, I suggest Intruder in the Dust. Be warned, though, that the latter isn't nearly as simple as The Unvanquished and there is a sentence that (if I recall correctly) runs for five or six pages (or more, but I'm not entirely sure). The good thing, at least, is that you can get used to the confusing syntax while the plot is still reasonably clear: what is clearer than a murder mystery and story of racial injustice (which, as the reader will gather from The Unvanquished, is one of the themes with which Faulkner is concerned in almost all his works)? Once you are used to seeing things from a somewhat blurred perspective (and to dealing with that syntax and stream-of-consciousness technique), I suggest moving on to Go Down, Moses (but you REALLY need to look at a McCaslin genealogy first, and to do this you should go to William Faulkner On the Web), and the stories in this book range from fairly simple to truly confusing (The Bear: it is in this story where you will be very glad you read Intruder In the Dust first!). And finally, you're ready for The Sound and the Fury (all of this, of course, is my own opinion about Faulkner; the reader may tackle these books in any order which he or she chooses: BUT DEFINITELY START WITH THE UNVANQUISHED!)
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Faulkner's Fascinating and Courageous Characters, February 28, 2005
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This review is from: The Unvanquished: The Corrected Text (Paperback)
If you haven't read any of Faulkner's works, this is a good place to begin. The Sartoris family lives through Faulkner's books. The plot centers on the familiy's personal experiences in the South during the Civil War. History comes alive on the pages of The Unvanquished, and the reader gains a better understanding of the Confederate viewpoint by witnessing the southern struggle to survive the destruction of their homes, families, and way of life. I heartily recommend this book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Faulkner for beginners, May 4, 2007
By 
Luis M. Luque (Brunswick, Maine) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Unvanquished: The Corrected Text (Paperback)
If you've never read a Faulkner novel, this is the perfect place to get your feet wet. I did exactly the opposite, starting with THE SOUND AND THE FURY, AS I LAY DYING and ABSALOM, ABSALOM! Had I read this first, I might have been more accustomed to Faulkner's difficulties (i.e. using pronouns to keep the reader guessing, frequent repetition of key phrases, his habitual use of images and symbols, frequent allusions to the Bible, occasional use of obscure vocabulary, the provision of minimal context to action -- especially early on, lengthy sentences and italic text to indicate a character's interior monologue) and not had to struggle so much when reading his masterpieces.

The characters and stories here (and please, read THE UNVANQUISHED as a collection of short stories told chronologically, rather than as a novel) are more simple and fun than his novels. And perhaps that's because he was taking a break from his most serious and difficult work and needed money and a vacation from ABSALOM, ABSALOM! The stories here progress in Faulknerian difficulty, the amount of Southern Gothic tragedy they depict, and the complexity and intricacy of the plots as the book goes along. By the time you're finished reading it, you're ready for SANCTUARY, THE WILD PALMS or LIGHT IN AUGUST.

But to dismiss THE UNVANQUISHED as a lesser work somehow, because the stories are more accessable, is to make a big mistake. The stories are teeming with beautiful prose and haunting storytelling, and they have a great deal to reveal about what the South endured during and immediately after the Civil War and about the mindset of Southerners at the time and for a long time afterward.
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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sartoris Redux, May 15, 2006
This review is from: The Unvanquished: The Corrected Text (Paperback)
Although published in 1938, the initial appearance of this novel can be traced to September 1934. Pressed for cash, Faullkner sent off the first of a series of short stories, dealing with the adolescent adventures of two boys during the Civil War, to the Saturday Evening Post and Scribners Magazine. The idea of collecting these stories into a "novel" was first proposed to his publisher in late 1936 although it is obvious that Faulklner was interested in a quick sale rather than in the creation of another serious work of literature. He did not put a lot of work into the revision and editing of these stories for the novel and consequently the "chapters" of the novel are pretty much identical to the stories that appeared in the two magazines from 1934-36. Interestingly, he was not able to sale the most powerful of the stories, An Odor of Verbena, to the magazines and thus this "chapter" represents the only unique part of the novel. (For those readers who are interested in the original form of the stories that make up this novel, they can be found in The Uncollected Stories of William Faulkner).

Faulkner had already written of the Sartoris family in an earlier novel, Flags in the Dust, but he set that novel during the era of post-World War I disillusionment and in it dealt with the descendants of Bayard - one of the two boys of The Unvanquised - and the condition of the South some sixty years after the Civil War. It is by far the superior work. Perhaps because The Unvanquished was serialized over a period of two years and went through scant editing for re-publication, it is much too episodic and fairly soaks in sentimentality, incongruity, and disbelief - all key ingredients for stories published in the mass circulated periodicals of the day such as the Saturday Evening Post. If the Yankees of the novel were as stupid as Ringo and Granny Rosa made them out to be, we (I guess my Southern upbringing is showing through) would have been marching on the White House in the summer of 1862.

But with even the weakest Faulkner novel there are places in which his brilliance shows through. The description of the flow of recently freed slaves - having no concept of what freedom represented - following the retreating Union army is mesmerizing and the characterization of Ringo and Granny Rosa is among his best. Ringo is elevated from the stereotyped pickaninny, whose sole purpose was to serve and entertain his masters, to an intelligent and cunning boy who is not only the intellectual superior of his white playmate and master, Bayard, but is equal to Granny Rosa in her business dealings with the Yankees. The scene in the church where Ringo is forced to sit in the balcony with his fellow slaves although holding the ledger that could save or destroy the lives of his white "superiors" is brilliant and the irony is not lost even on the most casual reader. By the end of last story, "An Odor of Verbena," it appears that Bayard has made a significant movement away from the nebulous but clinging heritage of the South with all its manifestations of honor and codes of chivalry, to a more aware state of mind. However, to readers of Flags in the Dust, set in the 1920s, this same Bayard is shown as an old man unable to sever himself from the traditions of the Old South, and still rides to town in a horse drawn carriage driven by his family's old slave, Simon.

Many reviewers have suggested that this novel is the place to begin for readers new to Faulkner. It is most decidedly not. Start with Light in August, Sanctuary, or even Flags in the Dust - all three very approachable and far superior to The Unvanquished.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The French connection..., June 24, 2009
This review is from: The Unvanquished: The Corrected Text (Paperback)
There is a particular "French connection" with this novel, and there is an overall connection between the French people and William Faulkner, and none of the other reviewers have raised this matter. It was the subject of a recent article in "The Guardian," which said that he was the second favorite French author, beating Flaubert, Stendhal, Baudelaire, de Beauvoir, Camus and Celine. Only Marcel Proust was ranked ahead of him. Faulkner spent only a very limited period in France, once during the 20's, and once in 1945 when he worked with the film director, Renoir. Apparently the peasant revolt in the Vendee, led by the clerics, against the forces of the French revolution, resonated with his feelings about the "lost cause" of the South's fight in the American Civil War. For some reason, certainly not evident to me, he entitled the chapter concerning Bayard and Ringo's (who was apparently named after the French victory at Marengo) hunt for Grumby as "Vendee." Furthering some of the inexplicable possible connections on this matter, in Honore de Balzac's great novel on the Vendee revolt, entitled "Les Chouans," the first chapter is "Ambuscade," the same name that Faulkner used for the first chapter in this book. Mere coincidence?

Aside from French connections, the style and content in Faulkner's novels continues to dazzle, and "The Unvanquished" is no exception. The chapters are set during the Civil War, starting with the fall of Vicksburg, through the 10 year period of Reconstruction following the war. The setting is the familiar, to Faulkner readers, Yoknapatawpha County, in northwestern Mississippi. Although the occupation of the county by Union forces is depicted in the novel, and there are numerous killings in the book, there is not a single incident of a Northern or Southern soldier being killed there by the opposite side. (of course, "far off" deaths, such as Drusilla's fiancée at Shiloh are noted). There are numerous memorable scenes, from the night marching of recently freed black slaves to the "Jordan River,"( that borders of Magic Realism) to the generosity of a Union officer who played along with Granny's ruse, to the courage, and ultimate submission of Drusilla, who was forced back into her pre-war role by her female contemporaries, a la "Rosie the Riveter" after the Second World War.

The characterization of black-white relations in Faulkner novels has been, I'm sure, the subject of several PhD dissertations. While I found the relationship of Ringo and Bayard 10 years after the war somewhat implausible, much is redeemed by the actions of Loosh during the conflict. Faulkner no doubt digested the folk tales involving the South's continued defiance of the North, and this was reflected in the somewhat embroidered tale of the unlikely alliance of Ringo and Granny fooling those Union officers. What continues to astonish about Faulkner are the sometimes vertiginous twist and turns, such as the interaction between Bayard and Drusilla in "An Odor of Verbena," and the quick suspense involving the question of whether to tell his father, the indomitable Col. Sartoris, who has already begun to find solace in brandy.

Other reviewers say this novel is an excellent introduction to Faulkner, since it is more "straightforward," others say no. I'm divided on the question. I believe it is as good as any of the others, and has numerous unexplained complexities. It is a joy to read, and deserves the full 5-stars, as do all his others.

Finally, a thought for the present: Col. Sartoris, at times a rigid man of the past, viewing the world through a certain structure, had numerous books on his shelf, including Napoleon's "Maxims," and rather surprisingly, the Koran!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Approachable Faulkner, February 10, 2008
By 
David Zimmerman (Baton Rouge, LA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Unvanquished: The Corrected Text (Paperback)
A local English professor's answer to a radio call-in question, "What's a good place to start reading Faulkner?" sent me looking for "The Unvanquished." This short novel of the Civil War and Reconstruction was created out of a series of magazine stories written by Faulkner in the 1930s, with one previously unpublished story added. Faulkner maintains his famous stream-of-consciousness style, but manages to remain approachable, perhaps because his narrator is a young boy, around whom (and his slave/friend) the stories revolve. The narrative is a little disjointed on a chapter-to-chapter basis, as each was written to stand alone. Apparently Faulkner didn't add much to enhance continuity in the novel format.

Like "Cold Mountain", the story focuses on the homefront during the Civil War. Rather than spouses, children and older people are the lead characters. Their ingenuity during the hard times of war is impressive, as is the general chaos surround organizing a war effort.

The book's last chapter "An Odor of Verbena" focuses on the Reconstruction period. Our current politics can't compete with this era for danger and intrigue, depicted at the local level in this story.

Some of my forays into Faulkner have foundered on his infamously difficult style--dense language, paragraph-long sentences and chapter-long paragraphs. "The Unvanquished" lowers this hurdle while retaining the sense that you are inside the character's minds while they deal with the challenge and tragedy that is the Civil War.

Recommended for all adult readers and even teenage readers with an interest in literary fiction or the Civil War.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Civil War and Reconstruction Faulkner Style, August 18, 2001
By 
IRA Ross (LYNDHURST, NJ United States 07071) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Unvanquished: The Corrected Text (Paperback)
_The Unvanquished_ is William Faulkner's majestic and stirring account of the Civil War (called the War Between the States in the confederacy) and the post-reconstruction periods told from the perspective of civilians on the Southern home front. It is a series of seven tales, held masterfully together with the help of a number of picaresque characters who appear, or whose decendants appear, in a number of other Faulkner novels. Those who criticize Faulkner as unreadable have often referred to the tendency of his sentences run on and on for several pages. Here, Faulkner modifies this style considerably, while maintaining an almost breathless style that is always holding and exciting.
_The Unvanquished_ is told from the point of view of its young narrator, Bayard Sartoris, the son of Colonel John Sartoris, the head of an aristocratic, slave-holding Jackson, Mississippi family. This novel, putting aside any unnecessary moralizing, is first and foremost the story of survival and maintainence of a way of life by any means available. If this requires otherwise good people to resort to lying, forgery, stealing, preventing newly enfranchised blacks from voting, and even committing murder for the sake of revenge, then so be it. Granny, the Sartoris family's matriarch, always has her bar of soap ready to wash out the mouths of Bayard and his slave friend, Ringo, should they ever dare use a cuss word. A good, Christian woman, Granny, with Bayard and Ringo in tow, never fails to kneel down to pray to God to beg His forgiveness for their sins.
One of the things I liked best about _The Unvanquished_ is Faulkner's treatment of women. Southern women have often been presented as dainty, delicate creatures who exist solely to marry and to be protected by their men. Faulkner turns this idea on its head by giving the story a feminist twist. To the horror of some in the novel, he allows a female member of the Sartoris family, Drusilla, to don a confederate uniform and to pretend to be a man so that she can join her uncle's regiment to fight the Yankees. She does this to seek vengence after her fiance is killed in the war. It is even suggested by one of the characters, perhaps revolutionary for a book written in the late 1930's, that this young woman may possibly have been a lesbian.
In sum, _The Unvanquished_ is very highly recommended to those who admire Civil War literature, to lovers of novels about the South, and even to those who may have previously shyed away from reading Faulkner fearing an inability to get through his so-called tangled style of writing.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Faulkner Classic, November 16, 2005
By 
Q (The Continuum) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Unvanquished: The Corrected Text (Paperback)
You can learn more about Southern history and culture from reading Faulkner than from a dozen "politically correct" textbooks written from a Northern perspective. THE UNVANQUISHED is about the Sartoris family during the time of the Civil War and Reconstruction. It's narrated by the boy Bayard, who is too young at first to really understand what is going on; the limited perspective of the narrator, the unconcern to explain the background to events, provides much of Faulkner's famous difficulty (it's said that you have to have already read a Faulkner novel in order to "read" it). But this "difficulty" is central to Faulkner's art, and to the meaning of his works. Bayard is a Sartoris through and through, which means he is fiercely independent, courageous, and stubborn as a mule. His Father is a colonel in the Confederate Army, and a legend in his own time. Even though the South was defeated, we learn that they were ultimately "unvanquished" in spirit. This novel really helps readers to understand the tragedy and chaos of the Civil War for the South, the destruction of their homes and cities, their traditions, and their whole way of life. Even though slavery is finally unjustifiable, much that was good and noble was lost and destroyed in the War. The description of hundreds and thousands newly-freed slaves wandering the roads searching for "Jordan" is unforgettable. Ultimately, the Sartoris family survives, but at great cost. They keep their values and integrity intact. Unlike some of Faulkner's other novels, this is finally a tale of heroism and triumph, but never sentimental.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of The Unvanquished, March 16, 2005
This review is from: The Unvanquished: The Corrected Text (Paperback)
The book I am reviewing is The Unvanquished, a novel by William Faulkner about hardships in the South during the Civil War. It is told in first-person by a boy named Bayard. The author uses complex, verbose vocabulary to make the situations in his story seemingly play themselves out on the pages. Also, he often uses metaphors to intricately describe the setting and characters. Much of the book is dialogue, which also assists in making the story more realistic and convincing. Moreover, the narration is nothing less than stellar, with many descriptive adjectives, similes, and analogies. This renowned author most definitely knows how to write an articulate, descriptive novel.

The Unvanquished is mainly about the difficulties of living in the South during and after the Civil War, but the theme goes deeper than that. It describes courage in individuals, but not only the courage to fight, but the courage not to fight when it is for the better of humanity. It is also about the growing, mentally and physically, of a young boy named Bayard. He is influenced by the people around him, some courageous and some wise, but in the end he learns that he must choose his own path, for the better of the town he lives in and the South as a whole. I can relate to this book, since I am influenced by others, but I, like Bayard, have to make choices for myself. Faulkner's The Unvanquished is a one-of-a-kind journey almost any reader would enjoy. However, I would recommend this book only to experienced readers, for all the verbosity and complex underlying themes is somewhat difficult to comprehend the first read. Overall, this book is without question one of my favorites, and is one of the most intriguing books I have come across in my reading.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heroism, Faulkner-style, January 25, 2012
I remember reading this book in college, for an American Literature course I was taking. I read "Absolom", "The Sound and the Fury", and "The Unvanquished", over the course of my English major, since I also took a survey of the Southern Literary Renaissance. I read "The Unvanquished" right after reading a collection of Hemingway short stories, and "The Sun Also Rises". I think "The Unvanquished" is sort of Faulkner's answer to the "Hemingway Hero." In Hemingway, a hero has a kind of stoicism and "grace under pressure." This is a very masculine, edgy concept of heroism. Faulkner's heroes, on the other hand, display a type of heroism that is described very well in the title of this book - in the face of shattering defeat and devastation, they remain "unvanquished." While grace under pressure is good if you're climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, or you're an old man who enjoys sea fishing, but being "unvanquished" is the characteristic that will best carry you through career disappointments, failed relationships, and the kind of devastation that the financial collapse of 2008 wreaked on so many lives.

I personally have found great strength from Faulkner's concept of being simply "unvanquished." Life can throw at me what it will, but it is only up to me whether I give it permission to defeat me. I can *choose* to be unvanquished.

Read this book. You will love it, and it will change your life. Then read Absolom, and then TSatF (TSatF is the most difficult of the three, I think, in terms of Faulkner's peculiar stream-of-consciousness style and sentence length).
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The Unvanquished: The Corrected Text
The Unvanquished: The Corrected Text by William Faulkner (Paperback - October 29, 1991)
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