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Absalom, Absalom! (Modern Library College Editions) Paperback – April 1, 1966

4.4 out of 5 stars 247 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"The novel in which Faulkner most profoundly and completely says what he has to say about the South and the human condition" -- Walter Allen "For range of effect, philosophical weight, originality of style, variety of characterisation, humour and tragic intensity [Faulkner's Works] are without equal in our time and country" -- Robert Penn Warren "For all his concern with the South, Faulkner was actually seeking out the nature of man. Thus we must turn to him for that continuity of moral purpose which made which made for the greatness of our classics" -- Ralph Ellison "The magnitude of Faulkner's characters lies in their blood and bone and sinew: the exquisite specificity of their human fallibility... Faulkner seemed incapable of separating intimate character from universal truth, and this rough refusal - both humble and defiant - was at the root of his force as a writer... No other American writer has achieved such staggering heights of form" Boston Globe "Heart-pinching" New York Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

Absalom! Absalom! is William Faulkner's major work--his most important and ambitious contribution to American literature. In the dramatic texture of this story of the founding, flourishing and decay of the plantation of Sutpen's Hundred, and of the family that demonic Stephen Sutpen brought into the world a generation before the Civil War, there rises the lament of the South for its own vanished splendor. From its magnificent and bold inception, when with his wild Negroes the founder of the great plantation appeared out of nowhere to seize his hundred square miles of land and build his mansion, through the destruction of the Civil War and its aftermath, and the drab beginnings of the new South, the narrative is colored by the author's glowing imagery, his command of a powerful and magical prose style. Beneath its brilliant surface and dark undercurrents, the novel sweeps backward and forward through time. The story in all its ramifications becomes crystallized in the mind of a relative of this strange family, young Quentin Compson, a Harvard student. At the terrifying and abrupt end of the tale there remain in the crumbling shell of the old house only the dying son of its builder, an ancient Negro woman who had been his slave, and the idiot mulatto youth who was to be the only direct descendant of the Sutpen blood.
This edition is set from the first American edition of 1936 and commemorates the seventy-fifth anniversary of Random House.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 378 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (April 1, 1966)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0075536579
  • ISBN-13: 978-0075536574
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.7 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (247 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #412,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bryan A. Pfleeger VINE VOICE on September 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
Absalom, Absalom! is Faulkner's great novel of the rise and fall of the Sutpen dynasty and a great allegory of the rise and fall of the Old South. It should be noted that first of all this is probably Faulkner's greatest and most difficult work.
The book told through three interconnected narratives tells the life story of Thomas Sutpen. The story parallels the rise of the Old South. The narratives are not straight forward and present a constant challenge to the reader. But if the reader does not close the book in despair the rewards are great indeed.
The mood of the storytelling alone is worth the price of admission here. The long flowing sentences are marvels and testaments to Faulker's skill as a writer. The narrative drive makes reading the book almost like reading Greek tragedy. We gets views of Sutpens life from several townspeople and also across generations.
This is the first book that I've read in a long time that made me feel like I had accomplished something when I finished it. You don't so much read this novel as you become lost in it. Jump in get your feet wet and prepare for some of the most intense Southern gothic that you are ever likely to read.
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By A Customer on February 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
My favorite book used to be The Sound and the Fury, but Absalom! Absalom! simply blew that away! A novel of themes dating back to the Bible and Greek tragedies--love, hubris, fratricide, incest--juxtaposed with the most peculiarly American of settings. Despite what many readers might say (my one friend said this was the first and last book she's started reading that she could simply not finish), it's not that diffiuclt once you get in the rhythm--reading aloud to yourself helps as well. While I would place this at the top of my "greatest books ever written" list, I would not recommend it to a first-time Faulkner reader. I'd read (in this order) The Unvanquished, As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, Go Down Moses, and Light in August before tackling Absalom! The Unvanquished is probably your best bet to start out on--its stream of consciousness style is not nearly as extreme as in Sound, Absalom, or even As I Lay. This book is worth all the page-long sentences and multiple voices...It's the finest work of not just Faulkner but of American writers as a whole.
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Format: Paperback
I struggled through this aggravating yet breathtaking book, but I don't think very many people can say they've read it and not struggled through it for Faulkner is still experimenting with style, and in this novel, considered by many to be his masterpiece, he does this by writing confusing page-long sentences for which he became famous (or should I say infamous) - this overall effect, combined with Faulkner's overuse of SAT vocabulary, makes the book a hard but worthwhile read; some read it and love every word of it, some read the first fifty pages and say it's "unreadable" - I happened to really enjoy it, but then again, I am a big Faulkner fan, and these sentences I'm writing are written in the same style Faulkner uses in Absalom, Absalom! - so if you think this style is annoying, don't even pick up this book! The story itself is told from a twisted angle: Quentin Compson (yes, the same Quentin Compson from The Sound and the Fury) hears the story of Thomas Sutpen's life and of his desire to forge a dynasty in Jefferson, Missisippi, a desire which failed due to the actions of Sutpen's children and of Sutpen himself - this story is told to Quentin from various different members of the Jefferson community (each account is slightly twisted or bias, and the reader, along with Quentin, is left to patch the "true" story together from the myriad accounts) in an attempt by Faulkner to show how a community tells and twists a story as it passes through the town - Faulkner masterfully succeeds at this, but in doing so, he only gives the reader enough information to just keep the story going, and things happen later in the book that explain the mysteries in the beginning.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I am glad to have read Absalom, Absalom!. The unknowable story of Thomas Sutpen and his doomed progeny is haunting, the heavy gothic atmosphere is effective, and I'm certainly not likely to forget it any time soon.
On the other hand, I have to say, by no means did I actually enjoy the process of reading Absalom, Absalom!. The Sound and the Fury, Light in August--those I actually got pleasure out of reading. Absalom, Absalom!, I did not. I won't deny that there is some brilliant writing on display here, the sort of thing that makes you pump your fist and shout "yeah! Go William!" (c'mon, I know I'm not the only one--'fess up), but more often than not, the prose just seems convoluted and tangled, for no other reason than that the man wanted to display his virtuosity. More often than not, this does not work, and sometimes it actively damages the novel. Regard, for instance, the following passage:
"...because I had learned nothing of love, not even parents' love--that fond dear constant violation of privacy, that stulification of the burgeoning and incorrigible I which is the meed and due of all mammalian meat, became not mistress, not beloved, but more than even love; I became all polymath love's androgynous advocate (117)
Yes indeed: polymath love's androgynous advocate. Faulkner would seem to be going for the 'bad prog rock lyrics' effect here. Even if you can figure out what this is supposed to mean, the fact remains: it looks damned silly, a clear case of complexity for complexity's sake. Sometimes less is more, Bill.
So no, slogging my way through three hundred pages of this stuff was not an enjoyable task. And yet, for some reason, it really does stick with you, as previously noted. I'm still not sure I'd recommend it, though.
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