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Go Down, Moses Paperback – January 30, 1991

4.4 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“For range of effect, philosophical weight, originality of style, variety of characterization, humor, and tragic intensity, [Faulkner’s works] are without equal in our time and country.” —Robert Penn Warren
 
“He is the greatest artist the South has produced. . . . Indeed, through his many novels and short stories, Faulkner fights out the moral problem which was repressed after the nineteenth century [yet] 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 for greatness of our classics.” —Ralph Ellison

From the Inside Flap

Faulkner examines the changing relationship of black to white and of man to the land, and weaves a complex work that is rich in understanding of the human condition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 365 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (November 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679732179
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679732174
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Anderson on December 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
I first bought "Go Down, Moses" for an undergraduate course in American Literature, read "The Bear" as required, and quickly forgot about the rest of the book. This Thanksgiving I picked it up again as a replacement for my usual airport-bookstore holiday reading. Thank goodness! Nothing like some heavy-duty race and environmental issues to spice up your turkey and stuffing.
Faulkner has always been a pleasant read for me, because I find it quite challenging. "Go Down, Moses" is no exception. In particular, the genealogy of the McCaslin-Edmonds-Beauchamp family causes no end of confusion. You will encounter characters named McCaslin Edmonds, Carothers McCaslin, Carothers McCaslin Edmonds, etc... (I found drawing a family tree helped me immensely)! Furthermore, the narrative is hardly linear; characters jump around in space and time, tell stories of other peoples' experiences in the midst of their own reminiscences, and in general relate their tales in a manner that will keep you constantly flipping back and forth through the book. That being said, I happen to *enjoy* books like this, where the reader is not a passive recipient of information but actively engaged in the process of determining plot, characters, and truth. I like this style because it reminds me of how we construct narratives in our own minds. We go off on tangents, we ramble endlessly before returning suddenly to our original subject, we remember things as they occur to us more often than we do in chronological order. Faulkner is more psychologist than novelist: he puts us inside the minds of his characters and lets them tell the story for themselves. If you want a clear-cut, action-driven story instead of a thoughtful and intimate history, Faulkner is not for you.
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Format: Paperback
I read Go Down Moses in 1996 before taking a trip to Mississippi. I had never read Faulkner before and had only one criterion for picking a book of his: it had to take place in the mythical Yoknapatawpha County. I picked this one off the library shelf.
For any non-southern American whose sole exposure to what happened there was from history books, this should forever shatter the pat preconceptions and simplistic black and white (no pun intended!) formulas they were taught.
The book plunges you into a vast panorama of ambiguities and contradictions. It was clear to me from the first paragraph that Faulkner was a genius. In the whole history of literature, he surely stands among a select few at the very pinnacle of greatness.
Go Down Moses is a tremendous struggle to get through. Some parts are straightforward and easy, but there are others that you can't hope to make literal sense of. You're bombarded by its twisted grammar. Its frantic confusion. Its endlessly unresolved sentences. But through these, Faulkner ultimately conveys the pain of history -- past and present. The emotion of that pain seems more real to him than the specific incidents it sprang from. Why else would a book begun in pre-Civil War Mississippi -- entirely skip it -- picking up again a generation later?
This book is about the South. Having read it, Faulkner walked beside me every step of the way I took through his state. But this book also has a sub-theme that should not be overlooked. Faulkner was a profound environmentalist, although sharply contrasted with how we usually think of that term. Hunters don't much fit the mold of environmentalism -- and Faulkner was an avid one of that lot. So, in that sense, along with all the sociological, he can shake you up pretty good!
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Format: Paperback
I had never read any Faulkner until I picked this off my bookshelf while browsing. Out of my wife's american literature classes has come what I feel to be one the best written books I have read in quite some time. The people are tortured, alive and very well described. The races are diagnosed in merciless precision and scrutiny, the unfortunate frustrations that plague them both. (there don't seem to be many other types of people in the stories except a few Indians) But this is art, literature the way it is supposed to be written. The language of Faulkner literally soars off the page with insight, feeling and relevance to the story. These Southern lives are mixed together, bringing forth a mulatto-rainbow mix of wonder and mystery and deep appreciation, a well developed reverence for life, its pain and people, suffering through a walk on the blessed earth. Truly great writing as compassionate as it is accurately reflecting the Southern world, post slave to this century through the eyes of a family smorgasbord of bloodlines and personalites. If you want to enjoy reading and have wondered at times why you are wasting your time on cultured pulp, this book will set you back on the right path.
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Format: Paperback
Go Down Moses was my latest stab at Faulkner. I'd certainly recommend, as someone before me has, a college course or reading group study of this book, and just about any other great Faulkner work. That being said, even a marginal understanding of this book (like mine) is worth the time and effort.

Go Down Moses is a collection of temporally fragmented novellas and stories concerning the McCaslin family's past, present, and future legacy in a southern town. Thematically, Faulkner tackles a bevy of issues--race, slavery, paternity, masculinity, the natural and supernatural. The stories are loosely centered around Isaac McCaslin, descendant of Carothers McCaslin--a plantation owner.

The best regarded and most complex story is considered to be "The Bear." Over a hundred pages long, it follows (often meandering) the hunting team that includes young Isaac, ex-Civil War officers, and a half Choctaw/half African hunter (Sam Fathers) as they obsessively pursue the invincible bear Old Ben through the years. Bursting with imagery and symbolism, "The Bear" will please Faulkner fans and hunters alike.

My personal favorites are "Was" and "The Fire and the Hearth." Lucas, half-black and the oldest living McCaslin save Isaac, searches for buried gold on Carothers Edmonds's plantation, where he farms, while his wife, fed up with his mania, gives him an ultimatum. An unlikely and graceful story of marital bonds and family values, and the triumph of humanity and dignity over birthright
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