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The Unvanquished

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  4,070 Ratings  ·  270 Reviews
Set in Mississippi during the Civil War and Reconstruction, THE UNVANQUISHED focuses on the Sartoris family, who, with their code of personal responsibility and courage, stand for the best of the Old South's traditions.
Paperback, 254 pages
Published October 29th 1991 by Vintage (first published 1938)
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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Best Southern Literature
206th out of 894 books — 2,260 voters
The Sound and the Fury by William FaulknerAs I Lay Dying by William FaulknerLight in August by William FaulknerAbsalom, Absalom! by William FaulknerSanctuary by William Faulkner
Best of William Faulkner
6th out of 72 books — 49 voters

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Community Reviews

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The Unvanquished is a coming-of-age novel set during the American Civil War and Reconstruction. Six of the seven stories were individually published in the Saturday Evening Post and Scribners before Faulkner finished it as a novel. The book is narrated by Bayard Sartoris as he looks back on his life on a Mississippi plantation from age 12 to 24.

The young Bayard thinks of war as a great adventure, and he has a "hero worshiping" attitude toward his father, Colonel John Sartoris, who leads a Confed
Diane Barnes
May 14, 2015 Diane Barnes rated it it was amazing
"Ringo said, "And don't yawl worry about Granny. She cide what she want and then she kneel down about ten seconds and tell God what she aim to do and then she git up and do hit. And them that don't like it can git outer the way or git trompled."

There you have two of my favorite characters in Faulkner: Granny, brave, indomitable, pious, stubborn, a strong southern woman to the core. And Ringo, smarter than his master, conniving, loyal, always thinking, always there with what was needed. This tale
May 11, 2015 Mmars rated it it was amazing
Even if I struggled with streams of thought or with following the action or with unfamiliarity of Faulkner’s style, there was the ending. Oh, the ending. How important it is to a book and how seldom it can redeem the faults one has had with the book up to that point. But here we follow a boy of twelve from childhood to manhood, true manhood. Until the end we do not know what truly lies in his heart.

This book begs to be read again to gather those clues of Bayard’s coming into his own. To see him
Jun 06, 2015 Lawyer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
The Unvanquished: Faulkner's Civil War

The Unvanquished was chosen as a group read by . Special thanks to Co-Moderator Co-Moderator Diane Barnes, "Miss Scarlette," for nominating this novel. "The Trail" continues to explore the works of William Faulkner. It is my hope that we will one day complete all of them.

He was besotted with history, his own and those of people around him. He lived within this history, and the history became him.--Robert Penn Warren, speaking of William Faulknerto Jay Pari
A boy, twelve years old, is growing up the middle of the Civil War--the American one, though in many ways it could be any civil war. Bayard and his best friend Ringo make maps of the battle fields in the rich soil and play soldier on the family plantation. War is an adventure, a Romantic dream of valor and anything other than glorious victory seems impossible.

Bayard’s awakening is at first a thing happening at the animal level, a consciousness that is ancient—the way a dog detects something new
I first read The Unvanquished half a century ago, because I had been told that it was the best Faulkner novel to start with. (Actually, it's not a novel at all, but a linked series of short stories with the same characters.) Seeing the Civil War through the eyes of Bayard Sartoris, son of a Southern war hero, and Ringo (short for Marengo), a former family slave who is Bayard's age, was nothing short of brilliant. I loved the book even more the second time around, and I definitely understood it m ...more
Lee Thompson
Feb 01, 2015 Lee Thompson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun and strangely dark novel from Faulkner. I like when he allowed himself do some deadpan comedy.
May 27, 2015 Camie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a group of stories told by Bayard Sartoris a 14-15 year old boy in Mississippi about his family's plight during the Civil war. An interesting cast of characters; his Father Colonel John Sartoris, Granny Rosa , who steals and resells mules to the Calvary , his cousin Drusilla, who rides in disguise with the soldiers, and his best friend , the recently freed slave Ringo ( who has the books best lines ) That these chapters were submitted by Faulkner to the Saturday Evening Post as serial ...more
Having read Flags in the Dust last year made this a special read along with the OTSLT group now. To see the very early years of Bayard Sartoris with his father and Grandmother, the skirmishes with Yankee troops, as well as Granny's clever hoodwinking of same to support those dependent on her during those very hard times has been exciting. Faulkner's vision of these people and their land is so consistent as to be amazing. To see the forebears of the Snopes and others adds to enjoyment of other bo ...more
Kirk Smith
Aug 03, 2015 Kirk Smith rated it it was amazing
Easily my favorite Faulkner! There are many more to be read, so I have much learn. This may have been his novel for novices and easy to follow. The violent death of Grumby was "(he didn't scream, he never made a sound) and the pistol both at the same time was level and steady as a rock." I don't know if that sounds like revenge and the death of a scoundrel to you, but I had to go back and search for the violence just to be sure a death transpired. Subtle violence with little or no blood! ...more
Jun 25, 2015 Matt rated it it was amazing

All the stories are good, mostly previously published in The Saturday Evening Post in the late thirties when he was "stirring the pot" making some quick cash while he worked on Absalom.

Each of the intertwined tales concerns two boys, one white and one black, growing up after the trauma of the Civil War. Colonel Sartoris, the fading patriarch, presides over the desiccated landscape and the ruins of Southern gentility. They work well together, complementing each other and keeping the narrative
Billy O'Callaghan
Oct 10, 2015 Billy O'Callaghan rated it it was amazing
It's been a few years since I read Faulkner, but I picked this one up last week and it was just a complete joy. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it.
This, basically, is the story of the coming-of-age of Bayard Sartoris, over a period of about a decade, from the age of eleven or twelve through into manhood. Told in seven chapters, each written originally as a short story and all but the final part published in magazines prior to being reworked into a novel form, it stands as a depict
فهد الفهد
Dec 01, 2014 فهد الفهد rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-america

ينفذ إليك فوكنر رغم الترجمات الرديئة، ورغم تخليه عن أسلوبه المميز في السرد متعدد الأصوات، فهو هنا يشتت روايته لتبدو كقصص قصيرة – وقد نشرت كذلك في البداية – حول عائلة سارتوريس وخاصة طفلهم بايارد ورفيقه الزنجي رينجو، في أحداث تدور فترة الحرب الأهلية الأمريكية وما بعدها في الجنوب الأمريكي المهزوم، رواية فاتنة عن الشجاعة وعن الحيل التي يقوم بها الإنسان ليعيش، وعن الخيانة، وعن الانتقام، وعن العفو وكسر سلسلة الدم، يستعيد فوكنر في هذه الرواية ذكرى والده في شخصية الضابط جون سارتوريس والد باي
Mrs. Ward
Feb 20, 2009 Mrs. Ward rated it did not like it
Just shoot me! I get it, I get it. William Faulkner is "one of the greats" a "lead in the canon of American History." However, I cannot bring myself to appreciate his work. The only reason I made it all the way through the book was because I was forced to read it for a literature course several years ago. I didn't see the "art" in it. I just felt tortured.
Oct 01, 2008 Chuck rated it liked it
Still making my mind up about this one; in many ways, I like this novel as much if not more than I liked much of the Faulkner that I've read. It's unified in that there was only one point of view character, Bayard Sartoris, as opposed to the multiple narrators (sometimes as many as fifteen) that are common in Faulkner's works. It also has a compact period of time, about ten years in Bayard's life, from the early 1860s to the 1870s, from when he was a young boy in the Civil War until he is a law ...more
May 17, 2015 Jeanette rated it it was amazing
So intrinsic to a time, place, core feeling that my words can't do it justice. Thinking of Granny for awhile before my meager descriptive reaction.


This work is perfection. The mix of dialect and formal word beauty phenomenal. There is not a nuance unvisited, nor a gut clench obscured.

These, IMHO, are the best bloomed characters in all his masterful and effusive publishing. The boys, John, Granny, Drusila and every character in every full flower of their identity and force. There are at lea
Al Gellene
Aug 19, 2011 Al Gellene rated it really liked it
I have to admit that I feel terribly ambiguous about Faulkner. I am in thrall with the writing. It flows and eddies in a mesmerizing way. His characters are like forces of nature, impelled by who and what they are to unavoidable conflict and, for many of them, doom. That the narrative sometimes borders on impenetrable, not so much in The Unvanquished, as much as in Absalom, Absalom and his many of his other novels, forces the reader to fixate on the prose, delve deeply into the dark and ...more
Paul Clayton
Nov 05, 2010 Paul Clayton rated it it was amazing

I finally finished The Unvanquished a week or so ago. Been so busy with my own writing and publishing, actually, mostly publishing, cause that’s what I am now, for all intents and purposes, ‘self-published.’ So, even a little one hundred and ninety page novel took me weeks. (Oh, did I say I have a job and a commute?) Anyway, The Unvanquished — I really enjoyed it! I’m lovin’ my current regimen of interspersing my readings of modern novels, literary and genre, with works from the literary canon.
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Oct 25, 2013 Elizabeth (Alaska) rated it really liked it
Shelves: author-faulkner
Very interesting. This book is made up of 7 stories, the first 6 of which were published individually while Faulkner was working on Absalom, Absalom!. The stories are sequential, starting early in the Civil War and ending about 10 years later. It is told in the first person by the son of Colonel John Sartoris. I assume this is the same family as in Faulkner's first novel, Sartoris, which was later published in a more complete form as Flags in the Dust. I will look forward to reading that.

This is
Apr 16, 2008 Charlaralotte rated it liked it
Apparently I had to read this book for a college course on Southern Women Writers. I had no recollection of it, or of why we had to read Faulkner's version of Southern womanhood. Probably because I read it in 2 hours at Lamont Library during a forced reading frenzy & retained zippo.

Anyhow, WOW! I wish I could give this book to everyone who thinks "Gone with the Wind" is the best thing besides Botox.
As an examination of what life was really like in the South during and after the Civil War, y
Aug 25, 2014 twrctdrv rated it liked it
A Faulkner sentence stretches on and on indefinitely, connected by seemingly purposelessly by numerous ands and semicolons, as if it were attempting to contain everything it possibly could from the scene it describes, both past and future, to the point where almost no action occurs, even when two major characters face each other in an office of law, two pistols drawn; the guns are not shot within the sentence, but rather described as not shot then later remembered to have been shot.

In addition,
Jun 03, 2009 Christy rated it it was amazing
After giving up on "Absalom! Absalom!", I turned to this in the set of four Faulkner novels that I had checked out from the library. I've been a fan of Faulkner's since high school when I did a thesis on "The Sound and the Fury"...I respect his technical superiority immensely, but at this point in my life slogging through A!A! was simply not working out.

"The Unvanquished" is really a whole other kettle of fish. It's a classic example of Southern Gothic writing and I think it should be read in co
I try, try, try to love Faulkner - but I just can't go from like to love. One thing this story does that I have not seen much of, is explore how "freedom" for the slaves after the Civil War was really not much freedom at all. What the heck were they free to do? Where did they live? How did they live? What did they eat? The solutions were to steal from their former masters, or to return to them to work as share croppers or some other barely paid position.

I found it very disconcerting to go from
Forester McClatchey
Jan 31, 2016 Forester McClatchey rated it liked it
"An Odor of Verbena" redeems the novel.
Nov 07, 2012 Mat rated it it was amazing
Faulkner does not create conventional plotlines, he creates atmospheres and has produced some of the most fascinating characters ever in literature. This is without a doubt by far the best Faulkner book I have read to date. Forget The Sound and The Fury folks, if you are looking for Faulkner's hidden masterpiece, look no more.

In my opinion, WF's pen falls into a perfect rhythm in this novel in which he manages to achieve a perfect balance between his celebrated 'obscure' style (which many lament
Ami Nicholson
Sep 06, 2015 Ami Nicholson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I love William Faulkner, and the characters in this novel are sensational. Some of the passages are so beautiful and are worded so perfectly, I read them more than once. This is a collection of Civil War stories that were compiled into a novel, and with the exception of the shift in chronology at the very end, the story flows quite well. The Editor's Note at the end of the book explains that this was the result of some rewriting and clever editing, ...more
Printable Tire
Like a lot of people, the only Faulkner I've read was the Sound and the Fury in college, and though I have to grudgingly admit it was pretty good, like a lot of people I thought it was stupidly hard to read. So with a little trepidation I read The Unvanquished, which is a lot easier to read, though still I think it's no sign of literary merit when a reader can't figure out easily how characters are related to one another or what certain pronouns are referring to for long stretches of time.

The Un
Mar 25, 2014 Cateline rated it it was amazing
The Unvanquished by William Faulkner

This novel ties in with the rest of Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County stories. This one follows the Sartoris family through the American Civil War, and part of Reconstruction. The action is seen through the youngest son, Bayard, who is about 15 years old in the beginning and through a good segment of the action.

Faulkner created both larger than life characters and the everyday, mundane details that make a story great. His lyrical and musical style flows with di
Michael Dworaczyk
Hemingway once remarked that he could tell when Faulkner picked up the glass while writing. I, myself am always tempted to pour myself a nice, large glass of bourbon while reading him, but I always refrain. Drinking may have helped Faulkner write his “stream of consciousness” passages, but it certainly doesn’t assist me in keeping up with him.

Initially published as disparate short stories, this novel brings them together as chapters, with a new one for the end. It is set during the Civil War, an
Jun 30, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it
This is a great, fast, fun read, Faulkner at his best. While one of his more action packed books, you still get the great Faulkner writing style (the easy style where you can actually understand what is happening).

The Unvanquished follows young Bayard Sartoris as he grows up under the eye of his granny, while his father is off Coloneling with the Confederacy. It is full of youthful action, guns, fraud, and a great sense of humor.

The best parts are him and his black (slave?) friend Ringo shooting
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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
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“Maybe times are never strange to women: it is just one continuous monotonous thing full of the repeated follies of their menfolks.” 16 likes
“Men have been pacifists for every reason under the sun except to avoid danger and fighting.” 16 likes
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