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The Reivers
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Group Reads: Pre-1980 > The Reivers, by William Faulkner: Discussion, January 2013

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Zorro (zorrom) | 177 comments I am reading The Reivers and loving it! I don't know if you all do side reads here, but if you'd like, please join me in discussion of this story.


message 2: by Lawyer, Moderator Emeritus "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Zorro wrote: "I am reading The Reivers and loving it! I don't know if you all do side reads here, but if you'd like, please join me in discussion of this story."

I loved the Reivers. And if I can find the time (I'm overbooked, as if I'm ever not) I'd love to join you. The Reivers would also make a wonderful group read should you care to nominate it when I open up nominations for November, which I hope to do in the next few days.

Mike
Lawyer Stevens


Zorro (zorrom) | 177 comments Since I have nominated The Reivers for November, I think I will wait to see if it is selected before I continue to read it.


Zorro (zorrom) | 177 comments So, I guess that since November won't work for The Reivers, I will continue along here. I am hoping to comment as I read.


Zorro (zorrom) | 177 comments I had a hard time getting into this book. I started twice before I wanted to continue. Now I am rolling! I just got to Memphis with these fellows. It was a rough ride through the man-made mud hole, but we made it!


Zorro (zorrom) | 177 comments I wonder what an 11-year-old will learn staying at the whorehouse!


Thing Two (thingtwo) | 82 comments I'm nominating it every month this year until it wins. It's the 50 th anniversary of its Pulitzer!


Ava Catherine | 34 comments This is the most wonderful book! Simply delightful!


message 9: by Lawyer, Moderator Emeritus "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Everitt wrote: "Since it won the January poll, this seems like as good a place as any to start the discussion. Oh and Happy New Year to everyone!"

Y'all pardon me for being a bit behind on The Trail. I've been battling a cold to the extent I've not even been able to enjoy reading. I thought you might enjoy this segment from NPR All Things Considered, regarding The Reivers. It was originally broadcast July 3, 2012. Here is Bordellows, Bandits, And One Big Mississippi Adventure, http://www.npr.org/2012/07/03/1561194... .


Jayme I wish I had started with The Reivers as my introduction to Faulkner instead of The Hamlet a few months back. I am just simply enjoying this book and am beginning to understand all the "fuss" over Faulkner. :)


Belinda Guerette | 27 comments And I complain about potholes on our paved roads!


message 12: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 653 comments I'm also enjoying The Reivers. It feels good to be back in Faulkner country (both the county and linguistically so individual). I'm sure now that I will eventually read pretty much everything out there. I do need to finish the Snopes Trilogy too.

As for The Reivers itself, the clever humor, is wonderful, the language, though convoluted, is sparkling. I'm loving it.

The copy I'm reading is 50 years old, the original purchased by the library in 1962. It's labeled their copy 1. Funny how someone marked up all the references to the future of the automobile (in pencil!--long ago)


message 13: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3821 comments Mod
I just got started on this one, but I can tell that it will be a lot of fun. They are just starting out, and the 11 year old has already told a multitude of lies.


message 14: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 653 comments Funny how he already seems to have some guilty feelings about those lies. I'm reading this slowly as I'm reading a few books at the same time.


message 15: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3821 comments Mod
I'm going slowly too, for various reasons ( Downton Abbey tonight). But Faulkner is never a fast read anyway. I am loving Ned, Lucius and Boon. And it seems that Lucius is the one in charge.


message 16: by Thing Two (last edited Jan 13, 2013 04:23PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Thing Two (thingtwo) | 82 comments Everitt wrote: "Yea I wasn't sure whether I would enjoy the book either, but I really am. This was a good selection. Bravo to whomever suggested it."

That was me! :) I started reading this yesterday, so I'm behind already. It's my sixth Faulkner book, and so far, it's the easiest to read. Really enjoying this one so far.

Diane - all reading stops for Downton Abbey tonight here, too!


message 17: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3821 comments Mod
Ok, changed my mind. Ned is the one in charge, as well as being the smartest. Just finished the description of the 5 smartest animals (rat, mule, cat, dog, horse) and the reasons why. Sounded like perfect reasoning to me.


message 18: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 653 comments Now I've finished Lightning Bug, I've got to get back to this. I'm looking forward to the description you mention Diane.


Thing Two (thingtwo) | 82 comments I don't think I've ever laughed out loud while reading Faulkner. This book is making me laugh.


message 20: by Lexy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lexy | 24 comments Yep, Ned has everybody fooled, hee hee hee.


Jayme I was loving this book,too until I ran smack into the wall of ugly Faulkner reality. I'm not sure I like the change and feel of the book now.


message 22: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 653 comments I've reached Memphis and the "boarding house" which Lucius finds a bit odd (and they all find him a bit odd, and a bit cute, too). Yes, Faulkner is his usual convoluted self, but these sentences yield some very amusing tidbits and such a warm underlying tone.


message 23: by Thing Two (last edited Jan 19, 2013 02:47PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Thing Two (thingtwo) | 82 comments Yes, I think this is one of his more approachable books, but it isn't wowing me the way The Sound and the Fury did or Absalom, Absalom! I'm not sure I understand why this particular book won the Pulitzer. Was it a make-up call?


message 24: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3821 comments Mod
One of the Pulitzer's main considerations is that it represent a piece of Americana, and this book certainly does that.


message 25: by Lawyer, Moderator Emeritus "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
The Origin of The Reivers

The information for this topic comes from Joseph Blotner in his massive two volume biography Faulkner: A Biography. Tossed in are some of my own gut feelings.

When Faulkner published The Mansion in 1959, he told Random House it would be his last book. However, Faulkner had been thinking about a Huck Finn type novel for twenty years prior to the appearance of "The Mansion." In fact, Faulkner received a $5,000.00 advance on it.

Bits and pieces of "The Reivers'" plot appeared in Faulkner's stories over the next twenty years.

Although it is speculation on my part, Faulkner received news of Hemingway's suicide while visiting with daughter Jill and her husband in Virginia. It affected him deeply. He strongly disagreed with what Hemingway had done.

A few days later, Faulkner presented Joseph Blotner the first three chapters of a novel he called "The Horse Stealers." Boon Hogganbeck, Lucius Priester, and Ned McCaslin were all there.

Prior to Hemingway's suicide, Faulkner had been in Oxford. "The Horse Stealers" seemed to be on his mind. He was downtown on the square in Oxford at Gaithright and Reed's drug store, a frequent destination.

He was speaking with a friend, Taylor McElroy. McElroy told him, "Bill, you're one of the finest writers. Why don't you write something of the kind that your friends here would really appreciate?" Faulkner dropped his head, smiled, and said, "I may do that." He had done it with this book, or at least come closer than he had done before. (Blotner, A New Life October 1960-1961.)

By now, Albert Erskine had become Faulkner's editor at Random House. The title changed from "The Horse Stealers," to "The Stealers," to finally, at Erskine's recommendation, "The Reivers," a Scottish phrase for thieves.

As was his custom, after finishing "The Reivers," Faulkner walked down to Gathwright & Read, telling Reed, he didn't have anything to put his manuscript in. As usual, Mac packaged the manuscript and posted it to Random House. Faulkner told Reed, "I been aiming to quit this foolishness. The package was sent off just before Faulkner's 63rd birthday.

As it turns out, Faulkner said he still had one more book in him. It would be about his favorite activity, fox hunting which he had picked up in Virginia. It never happened. After several falls from horses, binges of drinking, Faulkner died of a heart attack on July 6, 1962.

The critical reception of Faulkner's "The Reivers" was mixed. As usual he had his detractors and conveyors of back handed compliments.

However, I consider that Faulkner left us one last gift and it is a golden one. Yes, there are elements of Huck Finn at hand, although they may be more attributable to Boon Hoggenbeck than to young Lucas Priester. However it is Lucus who experiences a loss of innocence and learns what it takes to see a project through and accept responsibility for his actions.

This book is different from anything Faulkner wrote. Immediately detectable is the story told by one narrator, the Grandfather. And to whom is the story told other than his grandchildren? Noticing the dedication, the book was written for Faulkner's grandchildren. Not only his son by daughter Jill, but the step grandchildren by Estelle's children.

Mention has been made that "The Reivers" does not engage the reader as "The Sound and the Fury." No, it doesn't. But I don't think Faulkner intended it to do so.

Making his first appearance at the University of Virginia as the Balch Lecturer in American Literature, on student asked if he was the same writer he was as he had started out. I loved Faulkner's response. "I hope not. I like to think anyone grows as he becomes older...He may not have the power and drive he had at 20, but he prefers to believe he understands more. He's not always able to forgive human folly, but he is able to understand it."

There is much human foible to understand in "The Reivers." Perhaps that is why I have come to love it so much. I first read "The Reivers" forty years ago. I would like to think I have come to understand my fellow humans wandering across the surface of our world.

I am nearing the end of the novel. It has given me so much joy and pleasure. I see Sues comments about the warm underlying tone of this novel. I couldn't agree more.

Turning to the issue of the posthumous Pulitzer, I, too puzzle over its reward. A lifetime achievement as Everitt said? Perhaps. Diane is definitely correct in the sparse criteria for a work of letters. And "The Reivers" is definitely a fine example of Americana, a time brought back to us, that otherwise we could not experience. The Pulitzer Committee did not name finalists for fiction until 1980. So we do not have a list of other candidates that might have been considered by the judges.

As for me, this is Faulkner's last golden gift.

Mike
"Lawyer Stevens"


message 26: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 653 comments Once again Mike, thanks for the background. It does add spice to the mix.


message 27: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3821 comments Mod
I finished this last night. The Grandfather's discussion with Lucius at the end of the final chapter of what it means to be a gentleman should be required reading and memorization for every child in our country. Yes, for females too. By Grandfather's definition, Miss Reba and Everbe were gentlemen, as were Ned and Lucius. "A gentleman accepts the responsibilty of his actions and bears the burden of their consequences......." What a wonderful story.


message 28: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 653 comments Diane wrote: "Ok, changed my mind. Ned is the one in charge, as well as being the smartest. Just finished the description of the 5 smartest animals (rat, mule, cat, dog, horse) and the reasons why. Sounded li..."

I just read this part about the 5 smartest animals. This was great and the reasons why were perfect. Parasites, indeed!


Jeffrey Keeten (jkeeten) Another fabulous Faulkner read, I continue to be amazed at the diversity of his writing abilities. If anyone is interested, I have posted my review. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

It will pass the time until Sir Michael Sullivan posts his fantabulous review, and no I've not had a preview, (If I had I would have stolen his best material.) but we all know that Mike is gearing up for a review that will leave us understanding this book better than if we had read the book a half dozen times.


Thing Two (thingtwo) | 82 comments Jeffrey wrote: "Another fabulous Faulkner read, I continue to be amazed at the diversity of his writing abilities. If anyone is interested, I have posted my review. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

..."


Ha! Ha! Maybe that's what I'm waiting for ... something to plagiarize!


message 31: by Lawyer, Moderator Emeritus "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Jeffrey wrote: "Another fabulous Faulkner read, I continue to be amazed at the diversity of his writing abilities. If anyone is interested, I have posted my review. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

..."


Yep. No pressure, Jeffery. *laughing* For those interested, it's at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21...

This one's on the personal side. It's for my grandfather.


message 32: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3821 comments Mod
For those who have finished this one, I have a question. Maybe I missed something, but how did the grandfather find them in Parsham? Was it just a coincidence that he was at the horse race visiting his friend? Wasn't he at the funeral of the dead grandfather? I admit to being lost on this point, and would appreciate clarification from a sharper reader.


message 33: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 653 comments I finished the book yesterday and really enjoyed it. Must say though that I found it a difficult book to review. Not sure if it was me or the book but I'm looking forward to reading another Faulkner next month.

Diane, I'd seen your question before I finished the book. I'm not sure but would Grandfather have been notified when Boon was arrested or would he have gone to Memphis when he found the car missing and then picked up on all the news of the race. etc.


message 34: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3821 comments Mod
I just got the movie from the library. I'll watch it tonight and post my thoughts.


message 35: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3821 comments Mod
The movie was great! I hope it won an award for cinematography. Hollywood did take some shortcuts, but remained true to the essence of the story. It had pretty graphic language and situations for 1969. The casting was excellent. Steve McQueen did not play Boon as slow-witted, but rather as a happy go lucky ne'er do well. Will Geer was the grandfather, and the scene in the basement between he and Lucius was almost word for word from the book. Definitely worth tracking this one down, and fun to watch.


message 36: by Sue (last edited Feb 01, 2013 08:49PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 653 comments Wow, Will Geer. He would have be perfect. I know I saw this in the theater when it came out but my memory of it is, admittedly, faded.

Also, in many ways, films took more chances then than they do now. Not sure if the film codes were as firmly entrenched as they are now. Now of course there can be as much violence as long as there's little sex, etc. A lot of older movies wouldn't pass today's codes. I'm thinking of films I saw in the 70s like McCabe and Mrs Miller. Of course I also don't know all that much about movie history---this is my personal rambling.


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