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Absalom, Absalom!

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2006

    Rosa

    Thomas Sutpen when he is fourteen years old knocks on the front door of a mansion and is told to go to the back door. He and his family are poor and just down from the mountains, the many class distinctions of southern plantation society stun him. He forms a life design that he will aquire all that southern plantation owners have, slaves, riches, mansion, wife, respectability, and sons. The sons thwart his design. Rosa Coldfield is the second daughter of Goodhue Coldfield and much younger sister to Ellen, born in Jefferson Mississippi. Her mother died in childbirth. Rosa's sister marries Sutpen and when Ellen dies in January 1863, Rosa agrees to take care of her daughter, Judith, who is four years her senior. Following the death of her father in 1864, who had nailed himself up in the attic to avoid having anything to do with the war, she goes in 1865 to Sutpen's Hundred to live with her niece. During the war Rosa, Judith, and Judith's half sister Clytie form a female cabal at Sutpen's Hundred and in an apathy that is almost peace wait in the house like three nuns wedded to the idea of Thomas Sutpen's return. When he does return Rosa becomes engaged to Thomas Sutpen, but when he suggested they attempt to produce a male heir before marriage, she breaks off the engagement and moves back to Jefferson. Following her broken engagement to Sutpen, except for Sunday church services she stays anchorite in her house in Jefferson. Along with other characters Rosa was caught up in the design vortex of the demon demiurge Thomas Sutpen. Faulkner has spun an intricate tapestry of polymathic prose. He experiments with characters becoming part of telling the story. The story is told from three views, Rosa Coldfield, Mr. Compson whos father knew Sutpen, and Quentin and Shreve who are college roomates and who tell and imagine parts of the story in their cold, cold room deep into one winter night. Reading Absalom, Absalom! is like being lost in a maze turning corners and finding where you have been before but a little different, something added, growing dimensional jigsaw until you hit the exit panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark saying I could go again like you have been on some phantasmagoric carnival ride.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2001

    Of Fate, Slavery, the South, Pride, and Story-Telling

    Review Summary: Absalom, Absalom! is a book that you can easily underestimate. Your persistence will be rewarded with pleasure if you are patient, and assume that something magnificent will appear that is different from what you expect. The story is a cross between a Greek tragedy, King Lear, and the oral tradition of story-telling. As such, it strikes the deepest chords of human connection and ambition. The primary settings are Mississippi and the West Indies from the Antebellum period through Reconstruction and into the early 20th century. The themes touch deeply on Southern tradition, slavery, and social class. This is a challenging book to read, and will appeal primarily to those who like difficult books that are full of allusions. For most, having read other Faulkner novels will make this one easier to access and understand. As I Lay Dying is a good precursor for this novel. Reader Caution: A six-letter word beginning with 'n' to describe people of Afro-American descent is used frequently in this book in ways that will offend many people. The use of the word is consistent with the beliefs and the historical moment of the characters who utter it, and does not reflect racist beliefs by the author. Review: Absalom, Absalom! is certainly one of America's greatest tragic novels. Thomas Sutpen arrives in Jefferson, Mississippi in middle age with a burning desire to establish a magnificent plantation and a dynasty with a leading role in society. To accomplish this, all he has available is his passion, a French architect, some slaves from Haiti, and a huge tract of land that he has somehow swindled out of the Native Americans. From the mud, his dream rises. But his very determination to accomplish his dream causes counterforces to rise that drag his dream into the mud again. The story is told in a most unusual fashion. Almost every major character's perspective is captured through the device of recounting prior conversations with other major characters. Most of the characters are missing major elements of the 'why' of the story, so you need to keep adding the stories together to begin to understand what was happening beneath the surface. The book eventually relies on a conversation with a nonparticipant in the events to explore why they might have occurred, where no direct evidence is available. In this last regard, the book takes on a little of the mystery-solving tradition involving logic that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. This conversation-reporting story-telling device makes the book both remarkably recursive and potentially maddening. If you are like me, you will wonder at times what else could possibly be covered in the book. And then, Faulkner pulls new dimensions to his story out of the hat. Faulkner's point is that we can almost always know 'what' has happened in terms of major events, but without great investigation and thought we unlikely to ever understand the 'why.' You come to appreciate this point by seeing your understanding of Sutpen's life change as you learn more about him and the events that preceded his arrival in Jefferson. I ultimately came away intrigued and inspired by the book's structure. You could easily have the opposite reaction. The book is a rich source of concepts and observations about the contradictions inherent in slavery and Southern notions of gentle behavior during the 18th and 19th centuries. You only find these contradictions as well laid out in Thomas Jefferson's writings and biographies. After you read this book, you should be in a good position to ask yourself some basic questions about what you are trying to accomplish with your personal life and your work. Are your goals any more worthy than Sutpen's? What dangers are you exposed to as a result of having this focus? In what ways are you an innocent in your pursuits? In seeking respect and esteem, remember to give it to others even more generously! Donald Mitchell, co-auth

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2004

    Better than I Expected

    I dove into this book not knowing what is about and was initially disappointed to discover that it was about the South (I am not particurally interested in it because most of the movies and books about it have bored me, except To Kill a Mockingbird). However, this is a rich telling that gets better after wading the through the initial confusion. It's not an easy read, so you have to really pay attention. Also, memory and reconstruction of memories are integral, which adds to the confusion. Overall, a great American novel. The story is okay, if not a bit hard to identify with; it's the storytelling that's incredible.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2007

    Great story, but dense

    The book is told from an anecdotal point of view, with the main characters relating events that occurred a long time ago. The story is intriguing, but at times the writing bogs down because of Faulkner's long, sometimes convoluted writing. Many sentences go on for up to half a page, and it's easy to lose yourself. Intriguing and thought provoking, but at times difficult to read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2013

    Absolutely, Absolutely loved it!

    A mysterious stranger comes to Jefferson with nothing but the clothes on his back and the horse upon which he road. The stranger’s goal was to attain respectability by marrying the daughter of an upstanding citizen with unimpeachable character.

    Absalom, Absalom is a book about secrets that reads like a Shakespearean tragedy. The secrets are based on tragic themes of slavery, subservience of women, murder, rape and incest. Faulkner exposes secrets of men and women, slave and slave owner during this dark period of American history. I highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2004

    Incredible Novel!

    Let me begin by stating that this book truly surprised me. Many people criticize Faulkner's writing style in this book (complicated, hard to follow, and at times confusing). But let me tell you that you get used to this type of dialect and you understand it as if you've heard it all your life. You have to give it time. Also, the plot is so original, heart-breaking, and surprising. Every true literature lover must read this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2013

    fantastic

    And brutal. Not an easy read but worth the effort and return.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2013

    Absalom

    Faulkner tells the story of a twisted southern family in a way only he can do, i prefered sound and the fury but if your interested in exploring the authors catalogye check this out

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  • Posted August 5, 2012

    One of the very best books ever!

    Outstanding story, great new introduction!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2000

    Faulker is unsurpassed

    The gloriously trajic tale of the Stupen family. A must read for any fan of modern literature.

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