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Three Famous Short Novels: Spotted Horses, Old Man, The Bear

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  1,411 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” —William Faulkner

These short works offer three different approaches to Faulkner, each representative of his work as a whole. Spotted Horses is a hilarious account of a horse auction, and pits the “cold practicality” of women against the boyish folly of men. Old Man is something of an adve
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 6th 2011 by Vintage (first published 1958)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,987)
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Mar 29, 2016 Dolors rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
"Courage and honor and pride, and pity and love of justice and of liberty. They all touch the heart, and what the heart holds to become truth, as far as we know truth."
The story of a boy, Isaac, who joins a hunting party for several summers, trying to kill Old Ben, an almost immortal and huge bear, a kind of a legend and a symbol of the power and the balance of nature. Seven times Isaac sees it, and once he forgives its life, forming a kind of unspoken tie with each other. Sam Fathers, a
Alec Sieber
Spotted Horses felt a little padded and boring, but had some amusing parts. Old Man was much more interesting, although admittedly a little rambling.

The Bear, however, is a goddam masterpiece, rightfully praised. It surely belongs in an elevated position along with the rest of Faulkner's great works. For the most part, Faulkner is working in familiar territory, evoking the death of his beloved South. However, I'm not sure if he ever hit this issue in such a direct or emotionally engaging manner
Jul 22, 2009 smetchie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who think hunters are assholes
Recommended to smetchie by: Newsweek
I only read "The Bear"(and only half of that) but goodreads doesn't have just "The Bear" alone, without "Spotted Horses" and "Old Man" and neither did the library so what can I do?

I adored the first half of "The Bear", which gave me a whole new perspective on hunting, but then it got all philosophical about the environment and I lost interest. Ironic since I picked this up based on it's inclusion on Newsweek's list of 50 books for our time and it made that list because of it's importance as an
Nov 24, 2014 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read The Bear - the first time I've read any Faulkner since my 20s (when I read him extensively). I was too young to appreciate his writing properly then, I think - too literal and too uptight in my reading. I used to love the atmosphere and the dynamism of much of the writing, but I don't think it really came properly alive for me.

Now, 20-plus years later, reading The Bear, I can see all the pluses and pitfalls of my Faulkner reading compressed into 100 or so pages, but I can sit back from
Matthew Towles
Oct 04, 2011 Matthew Towles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I envy few author's vocabularies more than I do Faulkner's.
Katie Herring
Jan 06, 2016 Katie Herring rated it it was ok
19 October | I've just finished The Bear. I liked it-- I was reminded of Gary Paulsen and Godforbid-- Why Are We In Vietnam. And then part 4 happened and I was lost and there were no periods and no capitalization and I'm sorry but I like format and I just didn't get it that was not simple-- why do people say Faulkner is simple?

This was my first introduction to Faulkner and I can't say it was very good-- I'm planning on finishing this little anthology-- but I doubt I'll like those better.

28 Octob
Apr 16, 2015 Simon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
Blimey! That was an adult's portion. I loved it but boy are you made to work for it? The first story had me chuckling in a way I can't remember doing to Faulkner. "Hey!" I thought, "I've got used to his style". The second story made me do a little more work. It also made me laugh from time to time on this odyssey. I got a sense that both Cormac McCarthy and the Coen Brothers had read this one. So much humanity. So much feeling. Such magnificent use of prose. The Bear is a monster. The rules of g ...more
Feb 11, 2009 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Reading these three novels was an interesting experience; there were times when I felt compelled to throw the book against the wall, and other times when I felt close to appreciating what it was that granted Faulkner the status his name enjoys. This was the first book of his I have read, and it took discipline to read the entire thing. He bends the rules of punctuation and seems to enjoy writing paragraphs that last 2-3 pages without break. At times it's beautiful; at other times it's infuriatin ...more
Meredith Cenzer
Jul 23, 2016 Meredith Cenzer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, these are great excerpts, but it is patently false to call these "Famous short novels"; these are chunks taken out of famous novels. This should really be advertised more prominently on this collection.

That said, they are all excellent and do stand alone successfully.
Gary Baughn
There were many moments of pleasure reading this collection, but Faulkner's style makes you work for those moments. His descriptions, his compaction of a person's or a place's history into one very long sentence, his changing of nouns into adjectives and vice versa, all that you expect of Faulkner are here, but also the maddening inability to let one read without making one guess constantly who the subject of this long sentence is and when and where are we in time and space.
I have given up on se
Oct 13, 2014 Tiffany rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I loved As I Lay Dying, alas these short stories did not grasp me the same way. It was hard to get through this book, almost as if trudging the same waters as the "Old Man". I appreciate Faulkner's skill. I feel one day I will appreciate the stories of this volume with more life experience on my part.

I tried reading for pleasure with this book and these stories require a mind ready to internally react to the action and characters. In short you need to be ready for participation in your reading.
J.K. George
Apr 18, 2016 J.K. George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wrestled with the rating, not that it's important for me to rate Faulkner. I read all three, with (for me) Spotted Horses a "3," Old Man a "4," and The Bear somewhere off the charts either a zero or a ten. I would say a "5" but only after a week to let it all sink in, and after a week of reading the "shmoop notes" that explained the second half of the story. This thing will not resonate with most modern people who are further away from the lore of the South. I grew up with that lore, and the s ...more
Anthony Meaney
May 20, 2016 Anthony Meaney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this one as part of my "goal" to read some Faulkner since he is so widely regarded. But at the same time his writing style is somewhat challenging so I was looking for a book that was fairly straightforward to "ease into him".

This was a good choice. There are three novels contained here and they have all appeared in other works - Old Man for instance was published in the book "Wild Palms" and The Bear is from "Go Down Moses" so if you've read those books you've read these already.

I was
Dec 06, 2015 Knitme23 rated it it was amazing
MDIHS Readers&Writers read "The Bear," the last of the stories in this collection, as our first group read for 2015. I found the first 1/3 of the book––the bear hunt part––to be stunningly, staggeringly gorgeous. His sentence structure and his vocabulary were mind-boggling. The next 2/3s were more challenging: if I'd been his editor, we'd have had some battles over his unremittingly complex prose and the inscrutability of his language. The goal of that level of challenge was harder to see in ...more
Dec 31, 2012 Ari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I still read this guy for pleasure, how could you not. Not many people write the way this man did, and though it is not easy writing to get through, the rewards are more than worth it... The Bear is my new favorite work of his
It was interesting yet confusing, the way it jumped from past to middle to present. I did not know if or when he talking at age 10yrs or 16yrs or 80yrs old. I liked it very much and would mostly read it again.
Tomáš Roztočil
I've read only The Bear and well... dissapointment.
The first part was actually quite catching. Some really nice descriptions of classic man vs.nature vs. other men. Only issue was sort of unfriendly style of writing (neverending sentences and paraghraphs. The story flew nicely with some minor "philosophical" dead ends... but everything was just OK. Then the part 3 ended. Maybe that's just where it should have ended overall.

Following pages have been just plain literary suffering. There was nothi
Prasad GR
In my first reading of Faulkner, found him quite turgid. The narrative is absolutely intense. Now for his longer works..
Jul 28, 2007 Brook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-the-south
My favorite Faulkner story. "A Rose for Emily" is unforgettable, too.
Michelle Ogburn
Jan 06, 2011 Michelle Ogburn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Does the man understand the use of periods and paragraphs?
Sep 20, 2015 Fred rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spotted horses
my impression: stunning prose, increadible observation, the spectrum of mankind

The Bear
for Ike, represents both the primal force of nature as well as the unbridled freedom, the indomitable independence, of the human spirit. Hunting, therefore, is analogous to man's attempt to control nature. His decision not to kill the bear is a moral choice rooted in his veneration of nature, as well as his desire to break free from the heritage that haunts
May 08, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tough to rate as it's a collection of three stories.

"Spotted Horses" feels very embryonic, with Faulkner spending the bulk of the story establishing characters and elaborating on the wild and untameable nature of the titular horses, as if in preparation for a larger story. However, after all of that set-up, he rushes through the brief second (and final) chapter with an uncharacteristically ham-handed bit of preaching on the vulnerability of poor, ignorant and uneducated folk in the rural South.

Jan 22, 2014 Crystal rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have to put this down so many pages before finishing it. I don't know Faulkner's work, I don't know much about him but this writing makes me wonder if he dared to write a lot of it while intoxicated! Pages and pages of rambling madness in each of the three stories.
Spotted Horses is a humorous story of a con artist who fools a bunch of characters into buying horses they never wanted. It's madness.
Old Man may be a better story but the writing style is still frustrating! These were written in th
Jan 24, 2015 Rick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection (particularly The Bear) initiated me into the wonderful world of William Faulkner back in high school. At the time I was not sure what drew me to this thick description of a bear hunt in Yoknapatawpha county, but as I've aged and read (and re-read) Faulkner, I realize that it is the stark beauty of his prose and his ability to delve deeply into characterization and the mysteries of coming of age. Not much happens in the story, as it turns out, but the characters are forever burne ...more
Apr 03, 2013 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The rating here is, of course, arbitrary, as these are three entirely different stories.
Spotted horses: 1.5/5. It was strange. As if someone was just telling a jumble of a story with perhaps one or two instances of Faulkner's typical voice and style. It was altogether confusing in a bad way, and seemingly pointless.
Old man: 4/5. As always beautiful writing; I feel this is a great piece to start with to understand a little about his style. The plot is, though, a little overly linear -- not a bad
Bob Mustin
Faulkner's growth as a writer underpins these three novellas. Spotted Horses is something of a too-oblique storytelling mess, giving the reader more questions than answers to Faulkner's intentions. Old Man is doubtless Cormac McCarthy's inspiration for his later, apocalyptic novels, and here Faulkner seems to have come into his own as an impressionistic writer, his long detailed depiction of the convict's negotiation of the flooded river clearly intended to affect the reader emotionally, not int ...more
Selected short stories
Though Faulkner writes about Mississipi and Yoknapatawpha, his own imaginary territory of 2400 Miles sq. with 15611 inhabitants, centered by Jefferson city, but I always see every single part of the world in his novels, where the characters are suffering of the situation which is imposed by visible and invisible powers, but they keep going on with life as they have no other possibilities ...
فالکنر در رمان "آبشالوم، آبشالوم" به "یوکناپاتوفا"، سرزمین خیالی اش در اطراف می سی س
Mar 08, 2008 Scott rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My dad told me this story about when he was in the Navy, before he was married to mother, when he a few of his ship-mates were on leave somewhere in Europe. Naturally, they ended up in a bar, drinking and hitting on women and what-not. One of his buddies in particular scored big by attracting the attention of a tall, beautiful, blond girl. They hit it off pretty quick, and as one thing leads to another, they eventually find their way to a more secluded area of the bar. At this point, my dad says ...more
Sarah Sammis
"Old Man" I've now read twice and neither time have I read it in its full context. The first time I read it, it was part of The Famous Short Novels which I read and released through BookCrossing but didn't review on this blog. I've since done some research on "Old Man" and have learned that it is actually part of a longer and more typical Faulkner novel, If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem, consisting of two different but complimentary narratives: "The Wild Palms" and "Old Man". Some reviews say these t ...more
"He cursed in a harsh steady unrepetitive stream, not at the living men who had put him where he was but at what he did not even know were pennames, did not even know were not actual men but merely the designations of shades who had written about shades."

The first story, "Spotted Horses" should be skipped, not bad, not good, completely unremarkable.
"Old Man" was my favorite of the three. In this tale of an escaped prisoner's trek across a flooded Mississippi, Faulkner employs his gift for descri

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William Cuthbert Faulkner was a Nobel Prize-winning American novelist and short story writer. One of the most influential writers of the twentieth century, his reputation is based mostly on his novels, novellas, and short stories. He was also a published poet and an occasional screenwriter.

The majority of his works are based in his native state of Mississippi. Though his work was published as earl
More about William Faulkner...

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