Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Absalom, Absalom!” as Want to Read:
Absalom, Absalom!
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Absalom, Absalom!

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  30,065 Ratings  ·  1,442 Reviews
Published in 1936, Absalom, Absalom! is considered by many to be William Faulkner's masterpiece. Although the novel's complex and fragmented structure poses considerable difficulty to readers, the book's literary merits place it squarely in the ranks of America's finest novels. The story concerns Thomas Sutpen, a poor man who finds wealth and then marries into a respectabl ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 30th 1991 by Vintage (first published 1936)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Absalom, Absalom!, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Laduke Ely Yes, he is. Pretty sure Faulkner has a few more characters that appear and reappear throughout the Yoknapatawpha novels.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee1984 by George OrwellThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Best Books of the 20th Century
223rd out of 6,660 books — 44,878 voters
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
23rd out of 887 books — 2,243 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 24, 2015 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern

The picture above was used on the first edition dust jacket published in 1936 by Random House. It is the image I had in my mind of Sutpen's Hundred the plantation built by Thomas Sutpen. The hundred stands for a 100 square miles, the geographic size of the plantation. 100 square miles of land is equivalent to 64,000 acres. In other words it is a BIG PLACE. The gist of all this is that Thomas Sutpen built himself an empire. These plantations were so large that it required an unbelievable amount
Feb 03, 2009 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like to think that Faulkner, were he alive, would've broken an empty bourbon bottle over the head of JRR Tolkien, and spit some tobacco juice on JK Rowling for their candy-ass prose and their contributions to increasing the laziness of readers everywhere. I further like to think that after he wrote,

". . . and opposite Quentin, Miss Coldfield in the eternal black which she had worn for forty-three years now, whether for sister, father, or nothusband none knew, sitting so bolt upright in the st
Absalom, Absalom!--William Faulkner's Novel of the Death of the Old South

Considered by many Faulkner scholars to be his masterpiece, Absalom, Absalom! was read by goodreads group "On the Southern Literary Trail" in April, 2012.


And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son! Second Samuel, 18:33, King James Version

Interestingly enough
Renato Magalhães Rocha
Starting to read Absalom, Absalom! might feel, at first, like walking into your friends having an important conversation but, because you missed the first half of it, you can’t tell whom it’s about and why they sound so absorbed by it - and they’re so concentrated that they can’t and won’t listen to you requesting that they please start over. All you can do is try to make sense of the clues and signs you’re able to grasp and try to figure out for yourself - at least for the time being - bits of ...more
Have you ever looked at one of Picasso's abstract females? You know the ones I mean. The woman has a head in which the prominently jutting nose splits the face into two sections with violently contrasting colours. Other body parts, hugely disproportionate, seem to bulge and dangle everywhere. You contemplate it for a while, shake your perfectly symmetrical head, put your elegantly tapered fingers pensively to your shapely chin, and think, "There's a human being in there somewhere. I can see all ...more
Sep 25, 2007 Lucas rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who has prepared themselves with at least 3 other faulkner books
I was nearly stammering when I finished it. It is a text so thick, so full of beauty that to describe it at all is daunting.

first of all, Faulkner is always doing things like this:
“He was a barracks filled with stubborn back-looking ghosts still recovering, even forty-three years afterward, from the fever which had cured the disease, waking from the fever without even knowing that it had been the fever itself which they had fought against and not the sickness, looking with stubborn recalcitrance
Mike Puma
Apr 23, 2012 Mike Puma rated it it was amazing

Maybe you cannot know when you first approach a novel to reread if it will live up to your recollection or sink like dead weight. Maybe it won’t do either—maybe it will just hover in that No Man’s Land between the title you added to your favorite list in 2010 and the one you plod through, ever so slowly, in 2012. Maybe, it will haunt you.

First time around, this one sailed—stream of consciousness, no problem—convoluted, page-long sentences, bring ‘em on. There’s a problem with multiple narrators?

Jul 07, 2007 Nathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would marry this book if our proud nation didn't define marriage as being only between a man and a woman.
May 25, 2007 Jill rated it liked it
i feel like i'm supposed to give this a higher rating, and maybe the next time i read it i will. it was a dense and thorny thicket, and i flogged myself through it with the conviction that it must be good for me, since it's faulkner, and faulkner is good for us -- and while i still believe that it was good for me i can't claim that i loved it. i read more out of a sense of obligation than desire, which is not usually the most productive motivation to read a novel. sentence for sentence, it is vi ...more
Jason Koivu
Dec 03, 2013 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
An enigmatic, nameless nightmare crawls silently out of the southern swamps and declares itself gentry. With stark and horrible inevitability, it creates its legacy in the same image as the mud from which it came, black, masked, impenetrable, yet reaching into a horror-stricken and helpless community to entwine a bride like a leviathan of the Mississippi marsh, drawing her back into its antebellum lair, she not wholly unwillingly. Mystery and strength entice no matter how shadowy and undignified ...more
Oct 09, 2013 AC rated it it was amazing
Rereading this was definitely the right decision. On a second reading, a book that had been knotty and confusing, became crystal clear -- perfectly constructed... as Faulkner proved actually to be holding all of the threads firmly within in his hands.

The book IS constructed like an onion, with Faulkner skillfully pulling apart layer by layer (-- all the passages about Quentin and Shreeve around the table are mere narrative interludes, intended merely to allow the reader to regather himself befo
This book was a difficult but rewarding read. One reward is I can now begin to understand what everyone thinks they mean when they call another novel “Faulknerian”. I had some taste from short stories assigned in a college lit class, and even with that small dose I felt the temptation to use Cliff Notes to help understand his rich Southern Gothic brew. But I am more receptive now to appreciate a tale chock full of allusions, twisted motivations, and revelations about the sins of racism, class st ...more
Kim Serene
Feb 16, 2008 Kim Serene rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All people
Recommended to Kim by: Ivy
I say this based entirely on my own free will, I think this could be the best book ever.
Jul 22, 2015 Jonathan rated it it was amazing

So, I am going to do something a little odd here which is more for the benefit of my thinking-through than anything else, so please feel free to ignore the following ramblings.

I intend to restrict myself to only writing criticisms of this novel which I have read twice now and unhesitatingly give the full-fathom-five stars.

Because I think there are lots of things which do not work here, or which fail to do what I think they are trying to do. And these are all things that I think Evelyn Scott, i
Jan 31, 2016 Edward rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
--Absalom, Absalom!

Nov 20, 2013 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I usually don't find it so difficult to write about my reaction to a novel. But this one has defeated me. What a complex, layered work it is. I've sat in front of the computer for about an hour now, writing and deleting sentences, trying to analyse what I feel about it, and I can't quite find the words.

The narrative, which moves back and forward in time, concerns Thomas Sutpen, who arrives in Mississippi with a band of "wild" slaves to fulfill his obession to create a dynasty. He builds a large
Dec 08, 2015 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, classici
Come si fa a commentarlo? Avevo letto Luce d’agosto, epico, grandioso, biblico. Molto meno ostico rispetto ad “ Assalonne, Assalonne!”, un romanzo che obbliga a non distrarti, a fare la massima attenzione ai salti temporali che portano a spasso avanti e indietro nel tempo, che ti costringe a leggere senza prendere respiro i periodi lunghissimi inframezzati di incisi e di parentesi su parentesi, con una scrittura ricchissima, lirica, vorticosa, che avvolge il lettore come il cobra viene incantato ...more
May 30, 2013 Mariel rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: why do they live there?
Recommended to Mariel by: this was called light
Am I going to have to hear it all again he thought I am going to have to hear it all over again I am already hearing it all over again I am listening to it all over again I shall never have to listen to anything else but this again forever so apparently not only a man never outlives his father but not even his friends and acquaintances do.

Yes he could see it all again in his mind as if he were there in front of the grave plots the tombstone pillars rising out of the misty ground thoughts of if
Dec 03, 2013 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing
William Faulkner's thesis through Absalom! Absalom! and The Sound and the Fury (novels that share characters and setting) goes something like this: The South fell because it was built on the blood and sweat (no tears from these men) of extremely ambitious men who lacked any compassion for others. Their utter disregard for others leads to theirs and ultimately the South's fall. Enter Thomas Sutpen in Absalom! Absalom!, the lowest of low characters ever created. He happily does things to relatives ...more
Sep 21, 2008 Trevor rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
Look, I can't say I disliked it - it was beautifully well written - but so terribly difficult. So difficult to follow and to know just where one is. I kept forgetting who was talking and who they were talking about. There is so much back story - it seems to be all back story. So many characters all more or less the same. Everything is so complex and detailed. I became lost and then I gave up, I'm afraid.

I can see it is probably worth the effort - but also know it requires more effort than I can
Apr 09, 2012 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-fiction
Holy shit! This is incredible. Faulkner's prose here is on a totally different level from anything else I've read by him. The huge sentences that make up Absalom Absalom are some of the densest, strangest and headiest things I've ever read. My eyes were literally watering at several points from the bizarre, fevered intensity that he uses to show the sad old south. And God, how sad it is, the entire Sutpen family tree (which takes work to sort out, but not nearly as much work as The Sound and the ...more
Stephen M
Half the time I couldn't figure out what the hell was happening. I continually got lost in those monstrous sentences. Nonetheless, Faulkner is still a god in my book. The way he plays with memory, story, and the nature of truth, is really amazing. I'm probably going to read Light in August after this.
Ken Moten
Sep 04, 2015 Ken Moten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who have read The Sound and the Fury
Of course the title is the second book of Samuel, but I am going to guess Faulkner, given his other naming conventions, was thinking Sacred Harp as well when he came upon Absalom: Now to the review proper:

I was reminded of a few different genres and stories as I read through this novel. I personally see this book, not as a sequel obviously, but a "mid-quel" to The Sound and the Fury. I recommend reading S&F first as you will be that much more prepared
Review #9 of "Year of the Review All Read Books"

In one sense I, as a Texan, am a Southerner, my state, formerly its own nation--those two words oft used interchangably in a non-American sense--a member of the Confederacy, the seventh state to do so, though not without the most prominent man in the state's history, Sam Houston, fearing against it like a lone Jeremiah, but still doing so by a vote of 166 to 8; and in another sense my South is not Faulkner's South, is not the Deep South, arguably n
Jul 05, 2012 Ginny_1807 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Faulkner è uno scrittore estremamente complesso da affrontare, nel senso che i suoi libri non possono costituire un semplice passatempo, ma impegnano intellettualmente ed emotivamente il lettore, sottoponendolo ad un notevole sforzo di attenzione e di interpretazione.
In questo romanzo, come già in “L’urlo e il furore”, convivono, marcatamente contrapposti eppure armoniosamente gestiti, l’ossequio alla tradizione più classica e lo sperimentalismo più ardito.
Questo perché sotto il profilo temati
Dec 07, 2014 Nicole~ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son.

The title for this novel is taken from the Old Testament of the Bible. The story of King David and Absalom is about a son who rebels against his father and a brother who forcibly commits incest with his sister. Absalom!undertakes these same themes.
Thomas Sutpen's deepest desire to be a great patriarchal figure at the head of a powerful dynasty stems from a humiliating experience as a teenager, wh
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 10, 2010 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For me this book was both daunting and sublime in equal measure.

In Absalom, Absalom! Faulkner engages the reader in a dizzying display of literary chess. The first two chapters of this book (and the chapters are often quite long) border on being barely comprehensible, perhaps somewhat similar to a conversation between strangers that one might eavesdrop upon in public. Just as one is starting to feel some sense of readerly footing with the text or else give up on the book entirely, Faulkner will
Sep 27, 2007 Blythe rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: masochists
So one semester in college I was forced to take a Faulkner class - as an elective, mind you - because all the other classes I needed were taken and I had to have a certain number of credits to keep my scholarship.

I don't hate everything Faulkner wrote. I even enjoy some of it. This book made me detest him for the week or two it took to suffer through it.

Apparently one of the notes Faulkner's editor sent him after reading this was something to the effect of, "This is a period. You should use them
Terri Jacobson
Aug 10, 2016 Terri Jacobson rated it it was amazing
Until recently, I thought the books of William Faulkner were beyond my ability to understand. In the past few weeks I've discovered (to my joy) what a mistake this has been. I've found that with a little research and a basic understanding of his style, Faulkner offers a treasure trove of outstanding reading.

In Absalom, Absalom! Faulkner does some things that are typical of his style. The story is not told in a linear fashion; the reader only gradually comes to understand the characters and what
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
All About Books: Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner (Gill and others) 34 25 Aug 10, 2016 03:21PM  
Absalom, Absalom! NY TImes Article 2 62 Jun 17, 2015 09:28AM  
Favorite Faulkner Novel and Why 20 199 May 12, 2015 11:45AM  
Around the World ...: Discussion for Absalom, Absalom! 21 74 Mar 17, 2014 10:01PM  
Brain Pain: Discussion - Week Two - Absalom, Absalom! - Chapter 4 & 5 7 44 Nov 14, 2013 12:30AM  
  • The Big Money (U.S.A., #3)
  • Look Homeward, Angel
  • 3 by Flannery O'Connor: The Violent Bear It Away / Everything That Rises Must Converge / Wise Blood
  • The Recognitions
  • Nostromo
  • Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable
  • One Lonely Night
  • Cane
  • Suttree
  • The Book of Job
  • The Cunning Man (Toronto Trilogy, #2)
  • بوستان سعدی
  • The Guermantes Way  (In Search of Lost Time, #3)
  • The Ambassadors
  • The Adventures of Augie March
  • Pale Fire
  • All the King's Men
  • Canti
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...

Share This Book

“If happy I can be I will, if suffer I must I can.” 140 likes
“You get born and you try this and you don't know why only you keep on trying it and you are born at the same time with a lot of other people, all mixed up with them, like trying to, having to, move your arms and legs with strings only the same strings are hitched to all the other arms and legs and the others all trying and they don't know why either except that the strings are all in one another's way like five or six people all trying to make a rug on the same loom only each one wants to weave his own pattern into the rug; and it can't matter, you know that, or the Ones that set up the loom would have arranged things a little better, and yet it must matter because you keep on trying or having to keep on trying and then all of a sudden it's all over.” 115 likes
More quotes…