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Go Down, Moses

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  9,120 ratings  ·  483 reviews
“I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.” —William Faulkner, on receiving the Nobel Prize
Go Down, Moses is composed of seven interrelated stories, all of them set in Faulkner’s mythic Yo
Paperback, 365 pages
Published January 30th 1991 by Vintage (first published 1942)
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Sara Lindley Because often our own thoughts are incredibly convoluted and confusing. If you're referring to the stream of conscious stuff- the sentences that take …moreBecause often our own thoughts are incredibly convoluted and confusing. If you're referring to the stream of conscious stuff- the sentences that take up entire pages- you have to be in the mindset that you're in the character's mind. People don't think in short clear reasoned out thoughts. Faulkner is trying to convey the mess of the human mind through words. (less)
Donald Yes Mel, I am. First time reading this one for me.

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If you want to sum up this magnificent novel in one sentence, it could be: "The world is not black and white, no matter how much we try to make it so for simplicity's sake!"

Or maybe one could say that simplicity is not that simple. And the good old times are not that good.

And most definitely, the rural illiterate life of Faulkner's stories is complex and painful and complicated and difficult in all the human ways we tend to think of as "modern". Modernity may just be what we currently remembe
Apr 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: constant-reader, 2010
When I'm away from Faulkner's works, I always think of them as "hard", "confusing", "over-the-top". You know, that sort of thing that only intellectuals read and pretend to understand and enjoy. But when I start to read them...

The first chapter is mysterious and deliberately obtuse. The reader is picked up in the middle of some strange goings-on and must try to decipher the characters and the allusive plotline.

But keep reading. No matter how much you feel like you're drowning, or lost in some ma
Aug 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Aubrey by: Bruce Nagle

Faulkner's one of those writers who's best read incomprehensibly. What went into my love for The Sound and the Fury and Light in August was a devotional and patient waiting for moments of clarity, one that relished the rolling prose and chiaroscuro enough in the meantime for a warm reception of an end. In contrast, this work largely inherited the last section of the first, a very concise and straightforward view of the previous three sections' miasma that ultimately suffered for its lending
This Has been a wonderful reading experience. It feels like I've been to a symphony, overwhelmed by the many component parts but the totality is just so great and, to my mind, so well done. This novel, which is a collection of tales out of the Mississippi delta, encompasses a century of life, a war that splintered the country, the racial lines that divide then cross and mingle, the ever-changing land itself, and annual male rites of passage in the hunt.

Once again I've chosen to allow Faulkner's
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
“The Bear” is one of my favorite short stories and the only thing I knew going in to Go Down, Moses was that it would be here surrounded by six more to make a loose kind of novel. OK then. Let’s do this. But what Faulkner does is just dunk you headfirst underwater and as you paddle back up— the loose stories over your head, jumping around like waterbugs with time and characters— all of a sudden “The Bear” comes along and in one masterful lunging stroke swipes you all the way back to dry land. Pa ...more
May 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Among the most beautiful of Faulkner is the Faulkner that studies the relationships that mankind forges amongst itself and with the outside world. The relationships of race, of animal, of culture. In this book, Faulkner shows such a profound level of insight into how we cope with what we must and create what we need. The mosts famous section of this book, "The Bear," is just a wonder for how well it does what Faulkner messes up in works like Intruder in the Dust. Coming of age, the politics betw ...more
For the most part, I liked this book. This is a collection of seven interrelated "short" stories. All the stories have themes about race and wilderness. They are all set in his fictitious Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. My favorite story was called "The Bear" and it probably the most famous one in this book. My only complaint about this collection is some of the stories seemed more like novella than short stories. However, I liked the wilderness aspect of the book that makes it a great summer ...more
B. P. Rinehart
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B. P. by: Ralph Ellison
Go Down, Moses by Homer Quincy Smith

"Here, in Go Down, Moses, Faulkner comes most passionately to grips with the moral implications of slavery, the American land, process and materialism, tradition and moral identity--all major themes of the American novel. And it is in the fourth section [of The Bear]...that Faulkner makes his most extended effort to define the specific form of the American Negro's humanity and to get at the human values which were lost by both North and South during the Civil
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american_lit, 2012
In love with Faulkner (4.5)—

I didn't get him. When I read his As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, and Absalom! Absalom! a few years ago. I liked Light in August, but I couldn't appreciate his style. And I guess for everything there is a season. Then I came back, and it happened to be in the right season, when my preoccupation was not storytelling but style and sentence rhythm. It has to do with my progress as a writer as I'm able to appreciate fiction for other than their plot.

I relished, no
Sep 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Allegra by: St. John's College
When I read this book in school I really had to get past Faulkner's indirect and colloquial writing style - it pissed me off for some reason and I just had a lot of trouble getting through it. But then, through our discussions I understood more of what was going on, and later, re-reading parts, they became clearer and clearer. Now, I have found that the images in the book pop up all the time in my life, and resonate with profound meaning for me. Once, driving through Florida, I saw a series of h ...more
Mar 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1001books, i-own
I know this isn't going to be much of a review...people always want the whys and wherefores for why people give the rating they give...Right now, it is simply because I 'heart' Faulkner. He is one of the most magnificent story tellers ever. His way of getting deep into the heart and matter of mankind's relationship with mankind and nature is genius. I believe there is no one out there that can ever compare to his ability to tell a doesn't even feel like so much a story than a history ...more
J.M. Hushour
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Especially poignant now, "Moses" is a raggedy collection of connected, nested stories centered on a family lineage that mixes both white and black, free and slave (or ex-slave) and ultimately highlights the futility of them all against an unwavering wildness that can only be dealt with by destroying it.
With the exception of Ike's sanction against the folly of thinking that one can possess anything that doesn't want to be possessed (whether land, the feral, or in love), this is a far more accessi
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
The twists and turns of a large extended family that revolves around one character in one way or another while showing the change of life in Mississippi over the course of 80 years. Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner is a novel constructed around seven interconnected short stories revolving around the McCaslin family and relations.

The novel begins with “Was” relating how one night’s search for an escaped slave ultimately leads to the birth of the book’s central character, Isaac “Uncle Ike” McCas
Jun 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
It is an odd time to be reading about the traditions, sentiments, ironies and contradictions of life in the Deep South. Faulkner tells it all ,
Feb 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel
As usual, a journey into the Mississippi of William Faulkner is not recommended for someone looking for a light read in the dentist office. However, if you like books which challenge you - not only with subject matter, but also through their mechanics - then Faulkner proves superb.

Go Down Moses was always presented to me as a collection of short stories. There is a certain truth to this. Each chapter can exist on its own - and tehy often are: the college freshman classic The Bear, is one of the
Mark Mallett
Mar 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Some books are easy and breezy; this is not. But the experience of reading it is exquisite. Faulkner's writing style is dense and perhaps convoluted. You might misinterpret, for example, the antecedent of a pronoun until some pages after you encounter it; you might not even sort out which characters are given voice until the recognition dawns some time later. Some subtle happening or remark might have great meaning (and I'm sure I missed a lot of these); different parts of the book amplify other ...more
Diane Barnes
May 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I find it difficult to review this novel, so I will leave that to others more proficient at doing so. Some adjectives just off the top of my head: powerful, amazing, unbearably sad, jubilantly comic. All these things in one short novel is incredible enough, but Faulkner manages all these things sometimes in one (long) sentence. Relationships and kinships between the black and white races, man vs. nature, old vs. young, are some recurring themes that are part of the magic that binds you to this w ...more
Oct 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Probably my favorite Faulkner novel. First time I ever read Faulkner where I wasn't forced to as part of an English class, and I was finally able to enjoy it. Suddenly I realized that Faulkner was, in fact, hilarious, and I was having a great time reading the book. Then I got to "The Bear", and it blew me away, and I understood why Faulkner is often regarded as America's greatest writer. I recommend this to anyone who has ever been curious about Faulkner. ...more
ἀρχαῖος (arkhaîos)(RK)
It's Faulkner. Good writing. Good stories: of blood lines, blood relatives, blood pulsing, blood spilling, blood spurting. Mostly about family back home. ...more
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it

Club Read: On the Southern Literary Trail

Contains spoilers.

Challenging work reading and re-reading this novel, but in the end satisfying. A few random thoughts and provisional explications on some of the narratives:

The stories of 'Go Down Moses' often seem to live in a time warp. Except for 'Delta Autumn' which references a disappearing Mississippi wilderness, there is little sense here of change and movement through time. Part of this is due to Faulkner's concentration on relationships and to
I read this book over almost a year (with a pause of about 4 months). It was one of the hardest I've read and not just because it's challenging, but also because of the way I read now - trying to make sure I've got every meaning, to do away with every ambiguity before I move onto the next sentence. When you're trying to uphold this standard while you're dealing with diminished capacity for concentration, the result is a really drawn-out read, and that's not in the interest of my communion with t ...more
John Pistelli
Go Down, Moses (1942), though not always grouped with Faulkner's indisputable masterpieces, is nevertheless one of his most significant and influential books.

On strictly formalist or literary-historical grounds, it is a beautiful example of the short story collection as novel, an idea that developed over the course of the 20th century until becoming a major fictional mode in its own right today, as explored by Ted Gioia in his essay on "The Rise of the Fragmented Novel."

When Go Down, Moses was f
Apr 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I would place this in my top 5 favorite Faulkner novels, although I have a hard time thinking of it as a novel. Seven stories centered around three families (one of them black) descended from a single pioneer/plantation owner. Except that one of the stories is almost completely unrelated (except thematically) to the plot. That story, “Pantaloon in Black” is one of my favorite stories, an incredible story of grief that also shows how casual or passive racism causes a person to be uncomprehending ...more
Dec 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
"Don't you see? This whole land, the whole South, is cursed, and all of us who derive from it, whom it ever suckled, white and black both, lie under the curse? Granted that my people brought the curse unto the land: maybe for that reason their descendants alone can - not resist it, not combat it - maybe just endure and outlast it until the curse is lifted" from The Bear in Go Down, Moses.

The novel (and Faulkner insisted that it is a novel) consists of seven short stories that deal with the white
Mar 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
(contains spoilers)
This collection of short stories combines to form a novel about Isaac McCaslin, taking the reader from the mid 1800's to the 1930s on a Mississippi plantation.
The orphaned son of the plantation, Isaac is raised by his cousin and his father's former slaves, especially Sam, the mixed blood son of an Indian chief. He is raised to be one with the land, attuned to the virgin forest, understanding the wildlife from squirrel to elusive bear. He is annoited in the blood of the great
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
August 2013 selection within the group On the Southern Literary Trail. Glad it was selected because I likely would not have tackled it without the election of this "book of the month".

You know the parts of the Bible that most people skip over because it details that this person begat this person who begat this person who begat this person who begat this person. Well, in large part, this book is 365 pages of just that; told in halfway reverse order.......but because of the way the dynamic is rev
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern
Here is one of the great books. Faulkner experimented with form here, writing a series of short stories about one family in his Yoknawpatawpha County, the McCaslin/Beauchamps. Beginning and ending with two "lighter" stories -- that is, slightly humorous -- this is a dark mediation on the ramifications of human indecency to others, in the form of slavery and its aftermath.

One of Faulkner's most poignant creations is the character of Sam Fathers, the half-black, half-Chickasaw ex-slave who takes t
Jun 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
1)The structure really added something. Although Faulkner said he thought of Go Down, Moses as an intact novel, it is organized as a collection of short stories. Each story takes place in the same location and involves members of the McCaslin family, but each takes place at a different time between the 1850’s and the 1940’s, and the protagonists change. The structure helps convey a key idea: there are trends and circumstances that last beyond the span of a human life, but shape and influence hum ...more
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Clearly I should rate this as amazing, since it no doubt is, but as a casual reader, reading it purely for pleasure, I'd just say it's a very enjoyable book but not necessarily the most pleasurable reading experience. It's beautiful throughout. It's sometimes very funny. It's rewarding to stick with it and read the whole thing, to see how ideas about race, blood, family identity, national identity, justice, and human dignity come together in the interconnected lives of the characters. Some are w ...more
Jun 13, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandonded
I can just manage to recall reading something by Faulkner at some point in college. Couldn't say what book - required reading for American Literature or something like that. My memory is more clear about my reaction to Faulkner in those days (I didn't like it!) than exactly why that was the case. So it was with some trepidation that I picked up this book from a pile that was sitting around the house. With true grit and determination, I struggled through a solid 75% of these related short stories ...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 set in his native state of Mississippi. Though his work was published as early

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