Jill's Reviews > Absalom, Absalom!

Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
85324
's review
May 25, 2007

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 virtuosic. really, utterly astonishing: there were moments of breathlessness, i must confess. what he does with language is stunning. the core story, a family tragedy designed to epitomize the degradation and fall of the american south, is examined from multiple angles, retold from multiple perspectives as the novel unfolds, but it's cryptic and complicated in a way that shut me out ... i guess the problem is that i had a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. the characters are of mythic proportion who speak in epic gothic faulknerian prose, and theirs is a tragedy of incest, miscegenation, bone-deep racism, desecration, and the structure is nonlinear and intricate ... and it was hard to sustain committed interest. i stuck with it for the sentences and gleaned a sense of the story. honestly, somewhere toward the middle, i had to read an online plot summary to string it together. one day, when i'm smarter, i'll read it again.
40 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Absalom, Absalom!.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

May 25, 2007 – Shelved
Started Reading
June 1, 2007 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-9)




dateUp arrow    newest »

message 9: by Jill (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:17AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jill this is a thorny thicket, but i see the light at the end, just ahead now...


message 8: by Sannahmary (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:36PM) (new)

Sannahmary Beck I love this review, it seems very honest and it's how i felt about it too.


message 7: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim You capture the vicissitudes of your journey through this "dense and thorny thicket" with clear eyes and honesty. I admire your sticking with it. It is clear that you didn't simply turn off to the book and ride the subway home through it. Personally, I did love this book, and for the exact reasons you state in your passage ending, "what he does with language is stunning." I ate up the merciless torrent of his language, and was similarly breathtaken by the astonishing musicality of it. I concentrated on the joy of the language, of sometimes figuring out who was speaking or what was going on in this particular sentence or passage, in the amazing parallelisms and repetitions and so forth. . .and I let the story just wash over me. I found that if I concentrated on the language, the story was there for me. It came. In any case, thanks for your honest review. I love that despite your difficulties with the book, you express the willingness and desire to read it again!


Nelson Interview: So, people say they can't understand your writing, even after they read it two or three times. What approach would you suggest for them?

Faulkner: Read it four times.

You understand the book more than many who attempt it do. Faulkner was exploring different styles and the work is, for me, the best piece he ever wrote. The quote is not meant to make light, but to let you know that many feel the same frustration with certain Faulkner novels (mainly Absalom, Absalom! and The Sound and the Fury). For me, once I fully understood the scope of his vision it was hard not to read it again.


message 5: by Maryann (new) - added it

Maryann You have to invest a lot of time into Faulkner in order to get everything, but it is worth it. I promise.


Deedee Those online plot summaries are very helpful!


M.L. Full disclosure, I've only read it once, but I agree with you. Some nice writing, but the subject matter was boring for me. I was just happy I could figure out what happened.


Stephanie Phillips Completely agree with all you say. I found his novel exhausting (seriously, some of the time I actually consulted Sparksnotes to be like, did I really get what this portion of the book was even talking about??) but amazing at some points. I really did feel like I was slogging through much of it. I've read Faulkner before and was thinking, I don't remember the other stuff I've read feeling so convoluted. Thanks for boldly giving it three stars in the midst of the raves.


Stephanie Phillips Completely agree with all you say. I found his novel exhausting (seriously, some of the time I actually consulted Sparksnotes to be like, did I really get what this portion of the book was even talking about??) but amazing at some points. I really did feel like I was slogging through much of it. I've read Faulkner before and was thinking, I don't remember the other stuff I've read feeling so convoluted. Thanks for boldly giving it three stars in the midst of the raves.


back to top