Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Guest Blog--Absalom, Absalom!

My summer syllabi had me writing only one essay, which seemed fine to me and my two busy editors, The Aspirant and Blogger. Yet, my wily professors filled the void of term papers with an avalanche of assigned reading.

Assigned reading for history majors is not exactly exciting reading. It consists of journals, diaries, and historiography as dry as the hardtack the historian authors are describing. It has caused me to long for the likes of Tom Clancy, John Grisham, or even Stephenie Meyer, to lighten my heavy reading load (I obviously have no problem lowering my standards).

Just when I started to pine for an essay on the merits of Southern honor I was relieved to be assigned Absalom, Absalom! by Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner of Mississippi. Mr. Faulkner paid off with a superbly written and memorable novel that clarifies and illustrates as much or more than the other half-dozen books on the South written by Yankees and Rebels alike.

Absalom, Absalom!'s title is a reference to the Biblical son of King David, and Faulkner uses the Old Testament and Greek tragedy as inspiration to explore the family relations, sins, history, and misunderstanding of the Sutpen family and the residents of the made-up Yoknapatawpha County, MS.

To be honest, reading Faulkner is hard - really, really hard. I almost picked up my book Southern Honor in exasperation but was rewarded for my patience. Faulkner's love of words and extra long sentences were a hurdle, but the map, glossary, and list of characters in the back of the book help to establish who each character is and their purposes in the novel. By persevering, I was able to become engrossed with the lives of the Deep South and was mesmerized by the art of one of America's greatest writers.


notaconnoisseur said...

You really have inspired me to try some Faulkner. What do you recommend I start with? Anyone?

Blogger said...

Thank you for this excellent blog. Notaconnoisseur (and GenuineClass), I highly recommend The Unvanquished as a superb Faulkner novel.

Blogger said...

By the way, I'm impressed you could include hardtack in your review.

Wanna-Be Lit said...

How long is Absalom, Absalom?