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William Faulkner : Novels 1936-1940 : Absalom, Absalom! / The Unvanquished / If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem / The Hamlet (Library of America) Hardcover – June 1, 1990
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From the Publisher
The Library of America edition of Faulkner's work publishes new, corrected texts: manuscripts, typescripts, galleys, and published editions have been collated to produce versions that are faithful to Faulkner's intentions and free of the changes introduced by subsequent editors. The Library of America is an award-winning, nonprofit program dedicated to publishing America's best and most significant writing in handsome, enduring volumes, featuring authoritative texts. Hailed as "the most important book-publishing project is the nation's history" (Newsweek), this acclaimed series is restoring America's literary heritage in "the finest-looking, longest-lasting edition ever made" (New Republic).
About the Author
William Faulkner (1897–1962) was born in Mississippi and was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature and the Pulitzer Prize.
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I have spoken at length about The Wild Palms because it is an under-appreciated work, and one of the author's personal favorites. Of the indisputably canonical four [The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Light in August, and Absalom, Absalom!]--if you heed canon affirmation of literature--the last of the four aforementioned novels is included to provide a work that is widely hailed as classic Faulkner. While not my personal favorite of his great four, it is still one hell of a book.
This is probably the most unique Library of America Faulkner set, since it covers a very protean period in the novelist's explorations. The anthology, while organized by dates, is also centered around Faulkner's explorations of changes in time (on literal and philosophical levels). The examination of the consolidation of old and new is most clear in The Wild Palms, but the Unvanquished and The Hamlet show Faulkner's continued preoccupation with time and how he dealt with his ever changing views. While I don't feel he reaches the depth of meditation on subjective time attained in As I Lay Dying, The Unvanquished revisits a number of ideas introduced in his earlier texts but examined through a post-1930 (the year Faulkner achieved his title as a first-class philosopher of time, to bastardize Sartre's words; the year As I Lay Dying was released and one year after The Sound and the Fury). The Hamlet, an understated but ambitious book, marks the writer's move towards his ambitious project A Fable, but the poetry and economy of language present in the earlier text makes it a more successful endeavor than the later, which Faulkner seemed to have intended to be his Ulysses, To The Lighthouse, or A Remembrance of Things Past.
Again, this is possibly the most varied Faulkner anthology that includes four of his most brilliant creations--even though three remain more under-appreciated than the chronological first of the selections. Faulkner's presence isn't losing any of its momentum, but, were certain works to be valued above others by some committee on American Literature (perish the thought), I would fear for the continued and \deserved--importance placed on The Wild Palms, The Unvanquished, and The Hamlet. With this collection, you can rest easy knowing that you have three of the most important American writer of the first half and early second half of the twentieth century's less celebrated texts, which should be celebrated just as much as those of his novels considered quintessential.