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The Hamlet (The Snopes Trilogy #1)

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  2,997 ratings  ·  148 reviews
This darkly comic masterpiece is the first novel of the trilogy about the Snopes family, the grasping clan that comes to dominate the mythical county of Yoknapatawpha, Mississippi after the fall of the Confederacy.
Published 1994 by Vintage Books (first published 1940)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Apr 29, 2014 Jeffrey Keeten rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeffrey by: On the Southern Literary Trail
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Paul Griffin
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
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
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
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,
Sep 02, 2009 Russell rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Thing Two
Jul 21, 2014 Thing Two rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 29, 2014 Still rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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...

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.
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?????
Nov 28, 2008 Heather marked it as started-but-didn-t-finish  ·  review of another edition
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???
My first Faulkner. Very challenging read, but in the end well worth it. Such a rich world that I can still conjure up easily.
I count myself biased. I've seen the movie Long Hot Summer and I cannot separate my love for that movie from my ambivalence towards The Hamlet, hence my "three stars" rating. The movie is very loosely based on the book. So loose, that basically a screenplay was written with a few of the character names used in the book, but not centered around the same plot.

Part of the problem for the book is also part of the point: Frenchman's Bend is being over-ridden by Snopes. As a reader, it's hard to keep
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
John Thomas
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
Nicholas Armstrong
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
Jul 28, 2014 Tina rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like great prose
This isn't my favorite Faulkner novel, but it wasn't a bad novel; I don't think Faulkner could write a bad novel, because his prose is just so, well, wonderful. His strengths lie in his tone and characterization. The former refers to the pervading sense of bleakness his novels exude, even when something relatively benign is occurring - there's always this veneer or perhaps shadow of desperation, of destitution about the characters and setting (clearly due to the Antebellum). Subsequently, in ref ...more
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
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
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
At once a sampling of Faulkner's greatest skills and worst habits.

An example:

The first section is a glorious depiction of a living, swirling community, that, when read, feels like having witnessed 50 years of life condensed into a dream. The Snopes invasion from the opening, and the violence around Mink, are highlights.

Still, where Faulkner can write passages of timeless beauty, he also tends to get overwrought in his chronicling of Yoknapatawpha county. There are dozens of overwrought sections
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
Judith Shadford
Volume 1 read as an assignment during grad school, now finishing the other 2 volumes, I loved The Hamlet. Praising Faulkner is a little like exclaiming how round the sun is, but his use of multiple characters hovering over the same events is a lesson in "going deep". That stuff all came from his head...and yet, there's the sense that we really are tapping into another consciousness, from the 12-year-old Charlie to the besotted (Steve-Martin white-haired, albeit not that old) lawyer. Sure, some o ...more
Nicholas Sangiacomo
Since this is probably not the first Faulkner book you are reading, I think it is hard to separate it from his others. Of the five I've read by him (this, Absalom, As I Lay Dying, Light in August, and TSTF), this was by far my least favorite.

This novel has plenty of those long and beautiful sentences that Faulkner is famous for. On the level of impressive prose, this book is remarkable for that romance between Ike and the cow alone.

What this novel lacks, however, is any type of narrative drive.
This is the first of the Snopes books and tells the story of how Flem Snopes and company came to Frenchman's Bend and became related to the Varners. It is painfully beautiful. Each massive sentence invites the reader to examine the placement and meaning of every phrase, every word, and in so doing, unravels some small part of the universe.
What gives Faulkner such gravity in his great novels Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom is the tragic fall of people of great but flawed character. The Hamlet is about the little people and their attempts to one up each other fighting over scraps from the table. This may throw you off at first, but stay the course and you will be richly rewarded. The struggle for Frenchman's Bend, a tiny Hamlet outside Jefferson, is set almost from the very beginning between V.K. Ratliff, an intinerant sewi ...more
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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...
The Sound and the Fury As I Lay Dying Light in August Absalom, Absalom! A Rose for Emily

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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
“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.” 2 likes
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