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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!
0Kommentar| 7 Personen fanden diese Informationen hilfreich. War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?JaNeinMissbrauch melden
I've read all of Faulkner's work and I truly believe that those who find 'Absalom' hard to comprehend should start by first reading 'The Unvanquished'. It gives one a more comfortable, easier and firmer foothold in Yoknapatawpha County so that when "Absalom, Absalom" is read, one will better understand what the author is telling us....how it felt to BE southern at Quentin's time. All the promise and past glory, all the self-destruction and inner demise is there. "Intruder in the Dust" should be the third book to be read. Those three give you a priceless inside track into the works of Faulkner. His short stories, "A Rose for Emily" and "Tomorrow" show both sides of the southern social strata. These stories are both masterpieces yet easy for the new Faulkner reader to appreciate. Although "The Sound and the Fury" is used in many colleges as an introduction to Faulkner, I feel that choice is not good. That particular book, although popular with many, was far from his best work. His style went awry there, in my opinion. The heaviness of the dialect and the time in which the story took place is no way to introduce anyone to this marvelous writer.
But of his complete body of work, "Absalom, Absalom" is the magnificent star and nobody should deny themselves the opportunity of reading this great contribution to American literature.
0Kommentar| 6 Personen fanden diese Informationen hilfreich. War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?JaNeinMissbrauch melden
am 26. September 1999
Absalom, Absalom is one of the best books I have ever read. To the reader who has the endurance and patience to plow through page after page without paragraph or any other interruption in layout the novel is a wonderful reading experience for three reasons:
1. Story: It is a compelling story of fratricide, incest, war and greed. It is tragic in the true sense of the word to see the characters struggle and be defeated eventually. Just a perfect story.
2. Historic Background: The novel gives an insight into life in the South before and after the Civil War. Anybody not living in the South should read the book to get an impression of the impact the Civil War - a war that is hardly paid any attention to in Europe - and the Reconstruction period have left on this part of the US and its lifestyle and culture.
3. Language: Faulkner is a master of the English language. I found myself rereading many sentences - not only because they were so long that I lost track, but also because of the powerful and elegant expressions used. Faulkner makes you appreciate the beauty of the English language - as far as language is concerned, Absalom, Absalom is definitely the best book I have read so far in English.
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am 11. Juni 2000
This is an amazing reading experience. A book that simply cannot be read only once. I have read it five times and each time is a totally different experience. The greater the familiarity with the characters, style and rather convoluted narrative, the greater the rewards. Your first time is without a doubt going to be difficult, but then with each re-reading the material becomes clearer, until you suddenly wonder why you ever found it hard in the first place. Huge in scope, yet intimate. It tackles great themes and succeeds. This material in lesser hands would have been a blood and guts piece of ante-bellum grand guignol. In the hands of Faulkner it is a true masterpiece of twentieth century literature.
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am 16. April 2000
I am a big Faulkner fan, and have read many of his novels and short stories. I can still remember reading Absalom, Absalom! for the first time, and how much I was moved by this epic story and Faulkner's prose. Even today, 10 years later, I can still vividly recall where I was when I finished reading Absalom, Absalom! for the first time. I envy those who haven't yet experienced this book, but soon will. Like most of Faulkner's novels, this is not an easy read, but well worth the time and effort. I think this book and Light in August are two of the greatest American novels of the 20th century. Enjoy.
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am 16. Februar 2000
My favorite book used to be The Sound and the Fury, but Absalom! Absalom! simply blew that away! A novel of themes dating back to the Bible and Greek tragedies--love, hubris, fratricide, incest--juxtaposed with the most peculiarly American of settings. Despite what many readers might say (my one friend said this was the first and last book she's started reading that she could simply not finish), it's not that diffiuclt once you get in the rhythm--reading aloud to yourself helps as well. While I would place this at the top of my "greatest books ever written" list, I would not recommend it to a first-time Faulkner reader. I'd read (in this order) The Unvanquished, As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, Go Down Moses, and Light in August before tackling Absalom! The Unvanquished is probably your best bet to start out on--its stream of consciousness style is not nearly as extreme as in Sound, Absalom, or even As I Lay. This book is worth all the page-long sentences and multiple voices...It's the finest work of not just Faulkner but of American writers as a whole.
0Kommentar| 2 Personen fanden diese Informationen hilfreich. War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?JaNeinMissbrauch melden
am 29. März 2001
Es ist sinnlos die aus diversen Erzählperspektiven geschilderte Handlung des Buches schildern zu wollen, es geht um ein unheimliches Hsaus (Sutpens Hundert), es geht um den dämonischen Frank Sutpen, um den Aufstieg und unaufhaltsamen Niedergang seines Geschlechtes.Das Buch schildert Boshaftigkeit, Wildheit, Verrohung, brodelnd neblige Sümpfe, Fluchten, Morde und lebenslange Hörigkeiten.All diese Schilderungen erfolgen in einem Stil, der wahrscheinlich den Höhepunkt von Faulkners Schreibkunst darstellt, er ist ebenso wild wie die geschilderten Charaktere, rauh und seltsam schwül anmutend wie die Sümpfe Mississippis.Absalom, Absalom ist ein großes Buch, zählt für mich zu den 10 besten Werken der Weltliteratur und reicht in Ansätzen an einen strukturell ähnlichen Roman heran, welcher jedoch mehr als 60 Jahre früher in England entstanden ist: Wuthering Heights. Ganz so ergreifend wie Emily Bronte schreibt Faulkner meines Erachtens in diesem Buch nicht, indes, er kann sich mit ihr (einer literarischen Göttin) messen. Und welcher Autor kann das schon? Ein durch und durch überragendes Buch.
0Kommentar| 4 Personen fanden diese Informationen hilfreich. War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?JaNeinMissbrauch melden
am 23. März 2000
Be warned: The first 100 pages of Absalom, Absalom! are some of the most confusing narration ever written in English. No matter how literate you consider yourself to be, you will have a difficult time in this novel until you get your bearings. There are multiple narrators, and the narrative shifts from one to the other, with little or no warning. However, by the end of the novel my jaw hung open in appreciation for how incredibly well crafted this novel is. In fact, it is almost perfect.
The story concerns the rise and fall of Thomas Sutpen, an outsider with a shady past who attempts to build a family dynasty in antebellum Mississippi. The events of his life and those of his children are told in a fascinating style where each narrator gives his or her take on each of the different events. Seeing a scene a third or fourth time from a different perspective, with a new twist of information, evokes an eerie feeling of inevitability. If you have ever seen CITIZEN KANE or PULP FICTION you know what I am referring to. Faulkner was brilliant for his deep-lunged prose style, for his fascinating plots, but most especially for his ability to understand the events he creted to such a degree that he can keep his trump cards hidden and dance around THE TRUTH for 250 pages and then drop the A-Bomb on his audience and leave them floored, slapping their heads for their failure to recognize where the story was going all along. This is a masterpiece of style. I can't give it a stronger recommendation.
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am 14. August 1997
Yes, it's the greatest American novel ever written by the greatest American novelist.Yes, it's unlike anything anyone else has ever written.Yes, it will change your way of viewing literature and the world forever. But it will give you headaches. It will cause your friends to wonder where you learned to speak Swahili so fluently. It will make your family recommend medication. 500-word sentences. Shifting (to put it mildly) points of view. Insanity, insanity, insanity. If you're a good reader you'll spend an hour on certain pages. If you're obsessive it could take you a lifetime to get through each chapter. If you just want a good story ... well, have you considered 'Moby Dick'? 'Absalom, Absalom!' is the greatest reading experience -- EXPERIENCE! -- I've ever had, the only book that ever really made me sweat, the only book that ever made me want to stay with it long enough to sweat. It ain't easy, but I assure you: the effort is commensurate with the reward.
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am 16. Juli 1999
I love Faulkner. Both "As I Lay Dying" and "The Sound and the Fury" are two of my favorite books. But "Absalom, Absalom!" just loses it's purpose within itself. Some pages will make you stop and take in every careful word choice and image that Faulkner presents. Other pages will drive you mad with their tedious ramblings and indulgences. Sherve's series of questions that go on for paragraphs will infuriate you. If 30 pages were cut out of this book or rewritten, it could have been one of his best. If you love Falukner, it's worth a read. If you haven't gotten into him before, this is not the place to start.
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