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The Hamlet (The Snopes Trilogy #1)

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  3,850 Ratings  ·  201 Reviews
The Hamlet, the first novel of Faulkner's Snopes trilogy, is both an ironic take on classical tragedy and a mordant commentary on the grand pretensions of the antebellum South and the depths of its decay in the aftermath of war and Reconstruction. It tells of the advent and the rise of the Snopes family in Frenchman's Bend, a small town built on the ruins of a once-stately ...more
Paperback, The Corrected Text, 409 pages
Published October 29th 1991 by Vintage International (first published 1940)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 22, 2012 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jeffrey by: On the Southern Literary Trail
Shelves: southern
It was now September. The cotton was open and spilling into the fields; the very air smelled of it. In field after field as he passed along the pickers, arrested in stooping attitudes, seemed fixed amid the constant surf of bursting bolls like piles in surf, the long, partly-filled sacks streaming away behind them like rigid frozen flags. The air was hot, vivid and breathless--a final fierce concentration of the doomed and dying summer.

First Edition of The Hamlet published in 1940

Will Varner ow
The Hamlet: Faulkner's Novel of the Snopes Trilogy

Reviewed by V.K. Ratliff

Things were right quiet down at Frenchman's Bend. No, not up at the old Sutpen place. This down south an' east of town.

Ever man knew how things worked. It wasn't the best place to live. Old Will Varner owned about ever thing worth anythin'. Most of the men farmed their cotton on shares on land owned by Varner. But a man could make a livin' on shares and have a roof over his head which he most likely paid Varner for. An wh
Mar 12, 2011 Brandon rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: humorists, cultural studies students
Recommended to Brandon by: Jim Hinkle
I remember reading a Joyce Carol Oates essay that referred offhandedly to Faulkner’s “misogyny.” I was an undergrad at the time, and I remember being surprised because having just read The Hamlet, I thought of Faulkner as more of a misanthrope. So when I recently reread The Hamlet and the other two novels in The Snopes Trilogy, I tried to pay attention to Faulkner’s tone regarding women and found that not only does Faulkner sympathize with the senseless brutality women suffer at the hands of pat ...more
Clif Hostetler
Jun 19, 2015 Clif Hostetler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
This book gives the impression that the author had a number of stories to tell so he sorted them out in a sequential order along a generalized timeline, located the action in his favorite fictional setting, Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, and like magic this book appeared. Faulkner is a world class story teller, and his writing skills shine in this book.

Much of the dialog in this book is filled with southern witticisms and colorful metaphor which give the story a humorous tone. But there is u
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Hot Diggity! Certainly not Faulkner terminology, but is what I think of this. I had encountered Snopes in a previous Faulkner - I think it was As I Lay Dying - and expected Snopes to be one person. It is true there is one Snopes who is believed superior and more or less controls the rest of them, but Snopes is a family. There are cousins in abundance who obey and fear Flem Snopes.

Faulkner had already been to Hollywood and written some screenplays when he wrote this. I knew this without looking i
Paul Griffin
Oct 08, 2007 Paul Griffin rated it liked it
It's a long life; I like trilogies. Nestling down into a world I know will sustain me for hours. This is the first of Faulkner's famous Snopes trilogy, about a family, the Snopes, who takes over a small Mississippi town called Frenchman's Bend. Faulkner is a master of characterization. Flem Snopes, the wily, ambitious son (whose father burns barns to intimidate his landlords), his wife Eula Snopes, the lazy, beautiful daughter of the rich, landed Will Varner, and Ratliff, the traveling sewing-ma ...more
Sep 25, 2015 AC rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels-english
The plotting is not flawless (as is, e.g., Absalom), but the writing is often so brilliant and the characterizations so rich and even profound, that one can forgive Faulkner his somewhat gothic conceits and sometimes excessive Naturalism.
Jun 04, 2010 Teresa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Finally finished -- I wasn't sure if I would, as I put it down to read other things, and at times wondered if I should bother picking it up again. I like Faulkner, but I didn't like this book. Faulkner can be difficult (which doesn't bother me); this book wasn't difficult -- it just wasn't that good. I liked some of the writing, and it got better near the end but not enough to make up for the middle.

Much of it was ridiculous (in more than one sense of that word) -- some of it on purpose, some of
Charles Lewis
Jun 28, 2014 Charles Lewis rated it really liked it
I've been wrestling with Faulkner all my life. I always wanted to like him but I found him difficult to crack. Then more than 30 years ago I was working in the high Canadian Arctic, living in a tent with one other guy, when I found I had a copy of Go Down Moses in my bag. I had tried to read it a few years before. But then as I started to read the book came alive. I just could not believe how wonderful it was. So the lesson it taught me that some authors need time but you have to find the right ...more
Kurt Reichenbaugh
Aug 05, 2011 Kurt Reichenbaugh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: high-brow
It's been a long time since I've dipped into Faulkner's dense slabs of prose, but I decided it was time to return to Yoknapatawpha County again while on a recent trip to Georgia. This is the first of three books about the Snopes family and introduces Flem Snopes to the reader. The first part of the novel may be familiar from one of Faulkner's short stories, "Barn Burning" which many of us had to read in school.

I have no idea how much Faulkner is read outside of required assignments for school,
Jun 03, 2008 Russell rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Nerds with free time and a desire to boring shit.
Recommended to Russell by: Nerds with no free time and a desire to boring shit.
I finally finished this dense, slow, boring reading project.

First of all, I will say that it was unbelievably well written. The imagery and scope of the story are difficult to pull off and Faulkner is obviously a master. Second, I will say that the story of the Snopes clan is pretty fascinating in itself. They are locusts swooping into Frenchman's Bend and sucking the property and people dry until they control everything and everyone.

Having given out that necessary praise, the fact is that the
Jun 23, 2014 Still rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: The seriously jaded
Recommended to Still by: Scores of people throughout my life. Most recently and persistently? My wife.

One of the most memorable books I have ever read.
Maybe I'll review it tomorrow but what can I say?
You'll either read Faulkner someday or you won't.
I can't think of a better novel to start out with, though.
Carol Storm
Nov 20, 2013 Carol Storm rated it it was amazing
My American Literature professor at Columbia told us that this was the ideal starting point for reading the novels of William Faulkner. The language is clear and easy to read and the bigger than life characters are easy to understand and identify with.

Personally, when I was at Columbia I felt out of place and unwanted, just like Flem Snopes. Maybe that's why I always found the tone of this novel a little too glib, and smug. William Faulkner is a big promoter of the myth of southern gentility, i
Thing Two
Nov 21, 2011 Thing Two rated it liked it
Recommended to Thing Two by: Southern Lit book Club
Broken into four sections, and published occasionally as short stories, The Hamlet begins Faulkner's Snopes family trilogy.

Set in Frenchmen's Bend on Mississippi's Yoknapatawpha River, this tale begins as Al Snopes and his family sign-on to be tenant farmers on Will Varner's land. By the end of the book, Al's son Flem has married the Varner's daughter, is running the Varner's store, and has pissed off Varner's son. The whole story is told by the very observant V.K. Ratliff, who doesn't miss a be
Jul 05, 2013 Christine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: south, favorites
The only problem with Faulkner is not what I thought it was when I was forced to read him in high school (that he just doesn't make a lick of sense). The problem I now know is that you can't read him quickly, you can't read him with the television on, nor with other people's children running through your house. If you try, it might take you 20 pages of confusion to actually understand that yes, he is really talking about somebody screwing a cow. That's just an example of how much entertainment i ...more
Apr 05, 2009 Ana-Catrina rated it it was amazing
What a trip! I still have not decided whether I loved it or hated it. So much country! Reminds me of all of those Romanian novels I had to read for middle and high school, very "country". Still, something about it was fascinating. I think in the end I loved the writing, but hated the world that it describes.
Oct 18, 2012 Linda rated it it was amazing
oh, so good. the language is so gorgeous and the subtext so loud. Best to go to the classics to read a really great book. What other than maybe Don deLillo and David Foster Wallace could compare in this generation?????
Jun 18, 2012 Betty rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
The germ of this novel can be traced back as far as 1927 to a short story entitled "Spotted Horses" which was incorporated into the novel in Book 4. In fact, a total of four Faulkner short stories made their way into the novel at different points, but to label The Hamlet as simply a collection of previously written short stories is to miss both the uniformity of the novel and a chance to experience Faulkner's creative mind at work. If the reader takes the time to compare the original of the inco ...more
Paula Ferreira Pinto
Não me é possível atribuir 3 estrelas e meia, que seria a minha rigorosa avaliação quantitativa.
De todos os que li do autor, foi o que menos me impressionou, sem o deixar de fazer. E, na verdade, surpreendida fiquei por não haver uma referência à bebida de eleição do Faulkner: o toddy! Eu que a esperava para aí à décima página...
Ana Badagadze
Mar 09, 2017 Ana Badagadze rated it really liked it
FULL REVIEW (with all the emotions)

I haven't read Faulkner for quite a while - since last summer and it's a big period for a reader who needs her portion of W.F. time to time as if it was a sorbet served between courses of dinner. And I started The Hamlet, which brings me additional pleasure as it was really hard to find paperback in my country and I found it on the street book market published by already not existing Georgian publisher in 1976, with yellow pages and a smell of a real old book,
Apr 07, 2008 Andy rated it it was amazing
Kind of like a smoother Sound and the Fury, where the smoothness is productive of something new, and not just a step back from a more high-modernist impulse. The way this story presents the economics of the business takeover of Frenchman's Bend by the Snopes family is fascinating--so much of it told in a kind of collective retrospection, where the plot is (at least in the first third) being delivered as a "we didn't know what was happening to us while it was happening, but now that it's obvious, ...more
Nicholas Armstrong
May 22, 2012 Nicholas Armstrong rated it it was ok
I'm not a big fan of Faulkner. He has themes which I think are very interesting. He has imagery which is consistent to a theme and purpose which prevails through all of his works. He even makes interesting commentary of American Southern life based off of all of this. However, I don't think that literature, and that writing in general, should be a puzzle. I don't think that the focus of a work should be its labyrinthine structure which alludes to meaning and intentionally obfuscates minds.

What m
Feb 22, 2008 Jason rated it it was amazing
A truly magnificent book...i enjoyed every word...
however, i can see why some readers didn't care for it...
i made a comment somewhere else that it was a mystery to me why faulkner all but abandoned his early experimental high modernist style...after finishing this book i can confidently say this is hogwash...
there are portions of this novel that could have come right out of 'absalom! absalom!'...all the faulknerian linguistic mannerisms are there...if possible in even more a proliferation than
John Thomas
Sep 23, 2009 John Thomas rated it it was amazing
So far I've learned that if an author wants to indulge in writing out his world-view, his personal take on the universal way of things, it is best to slip that view it into the narrative in brief, manageable doses. Also, for any intellectual prose to succeed, the writer must render his work so that it surpasses the height of his lofty vision, so that the tangential musings by the omniscient narrator don't distract the reader or come off as pedantic and vain. The astonishing mark of Faulkner is t ...more
Mike Gilbert
This is first in Faulkner's Snopes Trilogy and when I read it, I hadn't read any Faulkner in nearly 10 years. It turns out that this is a good book to get back into the swing of Faulkner. Its not his most experimental book, told from several points of view, somewhat like The Sound and the Fury, but with each character visited only once, and even then always in in the third person, without stream of consciousness.

The story itself has several funny moments, which seemed to grow as the novel moved
Brian Willis
Aug 11, 2015 Brian Willis rated it really liked it
Beginning a trilogy of books which explore the dark underbelly of rural Southern life after the Civil War, Faulkner tracks the machinations of the Snopes family, devious and brilliant a la Shakespeare's Richard III. While the last section was I felt the weakest of the book, there are more than enough startling moments in the book that sear themselves into the brain. Reading Faulkner is like being pushed along by a river; you may not always understand the twists and turns but you can't to see whe ...more
Apr 24, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-read
I love Faulkner! The quarrelsome, uneducated but wily (some of them) residents of the hamlet of Frenchman's Bend couldn't contrast more with the melancholy and erudite narrator who tells their stories as if they were Ulysses band of men.

The book is basically about how the Snopes family turned up and used their wiles to one up everyone in town until on the last page they are setting off for Jefferson where the good citizens of that town will underestimate the Snopes and live to regret it.
Nov 25, 2008 Jeff rated it it was amazing
A towering book about a teeny tiny community...

You can tell from reading that guy just had a better time writing than most people have doing anything...I like to picture him scribbling away with a bottle of whiskey on the desk...every ten pages or so there tend to be clumps of word repetitions and mispellings (gotta love how the newer editions retain them all), which I figure occurred in cycles whenever the level of that bottle started getting low...

Apr 05, 2008 Al rated it liked it
Shelves: 2005-books
My first Faulkner. Very challenging read, but in the end well worth it. Such a rich world that I can still conjure up easily.
Nov 17, 2008 Heather marked it as started-but-didn-t-finish
Aaarghh - just finished the second section (Eula), which ends with that Flem Snopes / devil / soul scene. Huh?! Need a Cliff's Notes - anyone got one???
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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...

Other Books in the Series

The Snopes Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Town
  • The Mansion

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“He was looking forward to his visit not only for the pleasure of the shrewd dealing which far transcended mere gross profit, but with the sheer happiness of being out of bed and moving once more at free will, even though a little weakly, in the sun and air which men drank and moved in and talked and dealt with one another - a pleasure no small part of which lay in the fact that he had not started yet and was absolutely nothing under heaven to make him start until he wanted to. He did not still feel weak, he was merely luxuriating in that supremely gutful lassitude of convalescence in which time, hurry, doing, did not exist, the accumulating seconds and minutes and hours to which in its well state the body's slave both waking and sleeping, now reversed and time now the lip-server and mendicant to the body's pleasure instead of the body thrall to time's headlong course.” 4 likes
“Roofed by the woven canopy of blind annealing grass-roots and the roots of trees, dark in the blind dark of time's silt and rich refuse - the constant and unslumbering anonymous worm-glut and the inextricable known bones - Troy's Helen and the nymphs and the snoring mitred bishops, the saviors and the victims and the kings - it wakes, up-seeping, attritive in uncountable creeping channels: first, root; then frond by frond, from whose escaping tips like gas it rises and disseminates and stains the sleep-fast earth with drowsy insect-murmur; then, still upward-seeking, creeps the knitted bark of trunk and limb where, suddenly louder leaf by leaf and dispersive in diffusive sudden speed, melodious with the winged and jeweled throats, it upward bursts and fills night's globed negation with jonquil thunder.” 2 likes
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