Saturday, 22 January 2011

William Faulkner - Absalom, Absalom!

A tale with Biblical parallels and Biblical proportions. A rise-and-fall story of Thomas Sutpen and his quest for wealth and respectability - wealth through an ostentatious estate and plantation 'acquired' from a local native Indian tribe and built by a group of black slaves and a French architect, and respectability through marrying a local merchant's daughter who will give him a son, his heir, and a daughter. Tangled up in Faulkner's burly and almighty streams of consciousness, which spit out spectral and visceral characters among a strong sense of time and place, are tales of origin, bloodlines, and birthright, of race and society in the South in the 1860's. Sutpen's own origins and subsequent plans and designs, his realization of a society that can be built on material worth. The bloodlines of Sutpen's heirs, his renouncement of his son, borne to him by his first wife of mixed race, and this son's desire for the acceptance of his own heritage, for his father's recognition. This is a book that wholeheartedly reaches down into murky waters to grab hold of what human greed and human worth really mean.
Sutpen's trouble was innocence. All of a sudden he discovered, not what he wanted to do but what he just had to do, had to do it whether he wanted to or not, because if he did not do it he knew that he could never live with himself for the rest of his life, never live with what all the men and women that had died to make him had left inside of him for him to pass on, with all the dead ones waiting and watching to see if he was going to do it right, fix things right so that he would be able to look in the face not only the old dead ones but all the living ones that would come after him when he would be one of the dead.”

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