The Hamlet, the first novel of Faulkner's Snopes trilogy, is both an ironic take on classical tragedy and a mordant commentary on the grand pretensions of the antebellum South and the depths of its decay in the aftermath of war and Reconstruction. It tells of the advent and the rise of the Snopes family in Frenchman's Bend, a small town built on the ruins of a once-stately plantation. Flem Snopes – wily, energetic, a man of shady origins – quickly comes to dominate the town and its people with his cunning and guile.
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©1954,1976 William Faulkner (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
Unlike The Sound & the Fury or Absalom, Absalom!, The Hamlet doesn't have layer upon layer of meaning (in general, at least-- however, it does have such moments..). Faulkner left very little up in the air, as opposed to the 2 books mentioned above, in which he leaves the reader with the unresolved tension of whether a certain event (ex. incest) actually happened or whether the relationship was such that the character experienced the situation in that way without it actually happening. The Hamlet is an exploration of reactions & relationships that develop in response to the Snopes family as it elbows its way into the Frenchman's Bend community.
The reading is quite good. About halfway throught the Part 2 file, there is a section which Faulkner also released as a short story called "Spotted Horses". The reader is totally in his element in this section... I'm not sure I ever was so caught up by an audiobook as in this part of the reading.
I was a little skeptical about listening to Faulkner, but I was delighted to discover that in many ways he is easier to listen to than to read. As convoluted as his writing can be at times, it is in the oral tradition. It helps that the narrator is excellent. If you listen to this book, don't stop there. You must go on to The Town and The Mansion as Faulkner continues the story of Flem Snopes and the lives he affects. Taken together, they are a remarkable look at early twentieth century Mississippi, as well as an integral part of the Yoknapatawpha County stories.
We listened to the entire trilogy while traveling by car through the South recently, including the Delta. My wife and I had both read these books years ago and loved them, but there is something enchanting about the narration by Joe Barrett. He has a pleasant "country" voice and (with a couple of minor exceptions) gets the dialect and the wordplay. These are hilariously funny books, in their ways, especially The Town and The Hamlet.
Ratliff, of course. Ratliff is the moral center and primary narrator of this part of the trilogy. He plays a critical role in the story and provides humor and humanity.
No, but this was wonderful.
No, I don't think that's possible.
Reviewer from Utah
Great writing and story. Faulkner has created a modern myth in Yoknapatawpha County.
The narration evokes the rough beauty of rural life.
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