Absalom, Absalom!

Faulkner, William. Absalom, Absalom! New York: Library of America, 1984.

Reason read: September is Southern Gospel Month. You can’t get much more southern than Faulkner!
To be honest, there was some confusion as to when I really read this book. On LibraryThing I had marked it “accomplished” and the detail of tags indicated I had read it at some time…but I couldn’t find a review. Not here, nor on LibraryThing. Plus, it was still on my challenge list. Weird.

Every town has their legends; the stories passed down from generation to generation. The Mississippi town of Jefferson has the story of Thomas Sutpen and his “Sutpen One Hundred.” All told, Thomas Sutpen was seen as a strange, mysterious and even evil man. When he first arrived in Jefferson no one knew his story. He bought one hundred acres of land and then disappeared, leaving the townspeople to talk, talk, talk. When he returned again he had a crew of slaves, materials, and a plan to build a mansion, a legacy. All the while he continues to be secretive and uncommunicative causing the townspeople speculate as to what he’s really up to (as people are bound to do when left to their own devices). The gossip subsides only a little when Sutpen finishes his beautiful home and marries a respectable woman. Quietly he starts a family when his wife gives birth to a son and a daughter. But the chatter can’t escape him. New rumors crop up when word gets around of Sutpen encouraging savage fights between his slaves. There’s talk he even joins in for sport. And that’s just the beginning.
Ultimately, Absalom, Absalom! is a story of tragedy after tragedy. Faulkner described it as a story about a man who wanted a son, had too many of them & they ended up destroying him.

Author fact: Faulkner realized his hometown had a wealth of stories to tell.

Book trivia: in my opinion, this was the most complicated of Faulkner’s books if only because the plot was so involved.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Southern Fried Fiction” (p 206).



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