Sutpen was a man, Faulker said, "who wanted sons and the sons destroyed him". His tragedy left its impress not only on his contemporaries but also on men who came after, men like Quentin Compson, haunted even into the 20th century by Sutpen's legacy of ruthlessness and singleminded disregard for the human community.
©1986 Jill Faulkner Summers; ©1993 Books on Tape, Inc.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Truth is fungible and ephemeral. It rests in the minds of the beholder and disappears in the light of history.
So many interpretations; so little time; “Absalom, Absalom!” is a masterpiece of literature for its phrasing, for its human exploration, and for its maddening reinvention of itself. If one of the criteria of literary success is a book’s nagging temptation to be re-read, “Absalom, Absalom!” deserves a Nobel Prize for literature (which Faulkner wins in 1949).
In the beginning, a reader is cast into confusion by a woman’s rant about Thomas Sutpen, a man she cohabitates with, nearly marries, and despises. Faulkner’s prose is all that keeps one trudging through this diatribe of discontent. Confusion reigns for several pages until a dim light of understanding reveals Thomas Sutpen as a driven, ill-educated, and poor Virginian that migrates to Mississippi with a plan, i.e. a plan to become wealthy, respected, and immortal; like a King of Jerusalem.
This is no easy read but it consumes one’s attention and helps one understand amoral behavior, slavery, discrimination and how they lead to inhumanity and destruction.
One master-passion in the br east, like Aaron's serpent, swallows all the rest. A. Pope
This novel is heavy, nearly indigestible.
I find it rather challenging to absorb, while driving (where I listen most), all the import of sentences filled with words that stretch the lexicon of even a Hahvahd literature professor. So, I purchased both the text and audible versions to listen to some and go back through. This proved too time-consuming.
If I were learned enough, perhaps I'd have enjoyed it enough to give it 5 stars. On the other hand, were I a true redneck I wouldn't have picked it up and certainly would have chunked it after Chapter 1.
If you purchase this, be sure to carry a pocket-sized dictionary for quick, easy and frequent reference.
I forgive Faulkner his racism now. I see that he not only speaks for the old Confederacy as her chief apologist, but also speaks to her and prophesies against her. Faulkner is hard to listen to in audio format because of those wonderful tangled sentences that go on for miles. But the narrator does an excellent job of differentiating each character, and you can see that the author really meant to be heard, not just read.
Maybe only a true believer can criticize. Faulkner gives full voice to those caught in the culture of trafficking in human labor, while still honoring the great ruined charade of Southern chivalry.
Say something about yourself!
Maybe The Great American Novel.
(Of course more than one Faulkner book could conceivably be called either one--Greatest American/Greatest Southern novel).
An incredible story of a southern man's rise and fall. The story is clearly an allegory for the South itself (and, by extension, America?).
Faulkner's writing style is light-years ahead of its time. The actual story being told could be done in a chapter. In fact, each chapter tells the same story from different perspectives, with new details. The perspectives and details often contradict each other. The details are sometimes explicitly made up.
This layered, recursive process demonstrates the construction of human knowledge, making this fiction "real."
Gardner's narration is wonderful. He doesn't necessarily change his accent from character to character except that it is always clear when a Southerner is speaking.
Dark, foreboding, mysterious
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Engaged different accents to make them recognizable and distinct without drawing too much attention to it.
Yes, and I almost did on one long car ride
First Faulkner book I've read since high school and the first time I felt I really appreciated one.
struggled to finish. very confusing. at the end, I still wasn't sure who Quinton was.
Absolutely superb. I especially recommend this book to those who have exiled themselves from the South and to those who want to understand that region better.
A unique capture & indictment of Southern iniquity, from the perspective of a Southerner, geographically removed, for perspective. This is the genius of his writing, his genre. The saddest thing is that this also the story of New York, Boston & Chicago with only honor & duty as a distinction. Thank God that these times are gone, thank God that Faulkner captured it before it was gone. Let us hope that the sins of slavery will stop punishing our land one day, even as that evil institution expands in other parts of this blessed/cursed planet.
Faulkner's exploration of human nature, of the civil war south and all of the prejudices, the taboos, the struggles for acceptance give the reader today, 150 years after the war ended, an understanding of it all that no other writer has or could ever provide.
As noted by other reviewers, "Absalom Absalom" does require some effort on the part of the listener; it might be worth having a printed copy to refer to in order to keep track of the rich complexities of the plot and the narrative voices (I referred to an online study guide as I had no copy of the book). But Grover Gardner's masterly reading enables the listener not only to make sense of the text, but to revel in the wonderfully full, almost poetic cadences of language so rich as to be almost musical. The listening in itself was a pleasure.
As for the book as a novel, it has so much to discover : themes of race, gender, American history, prejudice, equality, sexual morality to name but a few; a structure so clever as to be an object of satisfaction in itself, especially combined with the complex interweaving of the time patterns; a magnificently Gothic atmosphere, especially the last scene, the forcefulness of which can rival any other.
I am grateful to previous reviewers for recommending a book which otherwise I would never have discovered, and to Grover Garner to bringing alive this remarkable novel from a powerful author.
"Making sense of a difficult masterpiece"
It seems Faulmner's Absalom, Absalom holds the world record for the longest sentence ever written. So that is how difficult this work gets. I twice gave up reading the print edition. But this audio recording by Grover Gardner, I listened mesmerized. The long winding incomprehensible sentences suddenly turned poetic. It was like mist lifting to reveal the beautiful scenery behind. I have read few thrillers so engrossed. So that is it then the recording has made a thriller out of an unreadable classic. It doesn't get better than that.
Absalom is a difficult book and whether you read or listen there will be long passages where you just want to cry 'get on with it' and yet as the book goes on this is all necessary and the repetition and endless looking at the same thing from a slightly different angle brings you further in than most any of book... normally I would say read the book first then listen to it but actually in this case sit back, listen, don't worry if parts don't make sense, don't worry about seeming repetition and glory in hearing this novel read in a southern accent!
"not for everyone"
I wish I could give more stars for the book. Since at one point in history the work was rewarded by Nobel Prize. And I really wanted to read (to listen) to it. and I tried. for few hours. I realy tried hard to grasp the storyline. and I failed. Because its impossible to put a completed thought in a centence 3 pages (5min.) long. The narator's voice contributed to unpleasant listening. It may be southern accent, but it sounds more like one of bravade-propaganda of news readers on TV in 60s.
Well, it's like Picasso in art, not for everyone. Faulkner in literature, not for everyone either.
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