Book review: Absalom, Absalom!

July 4, 2009

Title: Absalom, Absalom!
Author: William Faulkner
Pages: 316

Absalom, Absalom! is a novel about the rise and fall of the Sutpen dynasty. Thomas Sutpen, the founder of the dynasty, ran away from home at the age of fourteen when he is turned away from the front-door of a rich-man’s mansion by his butler (probably because he was poorly dressed). Sutpen becomes obsessed with starting a plantation and becoming the patriarch of a dynasty.

The novel is meant to serve as an allegory to the rise and fall of Southern plantation culture. It takes place around the time of the American Civil War. The defeat of the Confederate Army (in which all the men of Sutpen’s family were participants) coincides with the downfall of Sutpen’s vision.

Faulkner uses a stream-of-consciousness style of narration often. The story is told by multiple people, who reveal parts of the plot in no chronological order. At times, the characters even interpret and create characters out of thin air.

This was book wasn’t anywhere close to being as difficult to read as I expected it to be. However, at times, Faulkner’s prose is unbeleivably dense and complex, using words most people have not heard of.


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