On the Southern Literary Trail discussion

The Hamlet
This topic is about The Hamlet
30 views
Group Reads: Pre-1990 > Final Impressions: The Hamlet, by William Faulkner: July 2018

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new)

Tom Mathews | 2748 comments Mod
Comments on this board are made with the assumption that readers have finished the book and may include spoilers.


Sara (phantomswife) | 1392 comments Well, it has been a while since I have read any Faulkner, and I was taken aback by how truly grim his vision of the South was in this one. The blurb on the back of my edition of the book refers twice to the "rapacity" of the society and culture portrayed...and I couldn't think of a better word to apply to this.

The mentally defective boy and the cow was a bit of story I could have done without! The murder of Houston and the lack of remorse by Mink Snopes was harrowing. This isn't even survival of the fittest, it's survival of the soulless.

Here's my review for anyone who might be interested.
my review


Janice (JG) | 136 comments I am not quite done with The Hamlet, but the murder of Houston, which is really the story of Mink and his wife, was harrowing, and riveting.

I also thought the story of Varner's daughter - woman flesh I think Faulkner described her - was wonderfully written. It describes perfectly small town adolescence and desires.

I don't think the story is grim, I think it is often humorous, often sad (I was very sorry to see Houston gone), and mostly a clear observation of rural characters and their naivete and stubbornness. I think Ratliff is a great character - a perfect observer to relate the vignette's of Jefferson's citizens.


message 4: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 4407 comments Mod
I haven't re-read this, but my overall impression of the book was humor, not bleakness. I think Faulkner tried to tell the truth about his little corner of the world, and his characters were always true to themselves.


message 5: by Sara (last edited Jul 06, 2018 06:16AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 1392 comments Interesting, I had remembered it more as humorous than bleak, but this reading left me feeling the opposite. Maybe my POV has changed over the last 25 years, since the book certainly has not.

I kept trying to find anything redeeming about any one of these characters, and I couldn't. I couldn't even muster much in the way of sympathy for those who were more victim than otherwise, like Eula and Mink's wife. He murders a man and hits her across the face, but she visits him in the jail daily and takes the children there. What chance do these poor children have? I just couldn't laugh at that and I couldn't find the hope there either.


message 6: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 4407 comments Mod
I just went back to check my review. I read it 6 years ago, and reviewed the Snopes Trilogy as one book. So I'm probably remembering the 3 books as one, but The Hamlet section in Frenchman's Bend would have been the darkest part of it. The Snopes were certainly a bit cartoonish, but you almost have to admire their cunning. And Flem Snopes was the smartest of the bunch. Once they got into town, there was more compromise in order to fit in and get ahead.


Sara (phantomswife) | 1392 comments Yes, I can see that, Diane. I read them the first time as a group as well, so maybe my impressions were not of this book specifically but the trilogy as a whole. I plan to read the others again as well, so I will be interested in seeing how the next two slant my view of this one.

Of course there were elements that made you chuckle here, but there seemed to be such a meanness beneath even the things that might have sparked laughter. The horses, for instance, might have been funny if the undercurrent weren't the injury to Henry and the loss of the 5-dollars to his wife, who had worked so hard to earn it and had the kids unshod and unfed. I thought there might be a touch of redemption in Flem when he handed her the bag of candy. I thought, maybe he has put the five dollars in there too and doesn't want the group on the porch to know he has done a good deed. But, no, and the candy was almost a smack in the face to me.

I'm going to look at this as the opening salvo, and hope that some sunshine gets through in the next volume. It is odd, because I am not really criticising it. I think it is masterfully written and a story that carries weight (but sometimes gets a little too weighty). It doesn't rise to the level of some of Faulkner's other works for me, but I still popped a 3.5-4 star rating.


message 8: by B. R. (last edited Jul 06, 2018 05:31PM) (new) - added it

B. R. Reed (mtmoon) | 122 comments Janice (JG) wrote: "I am not quite done with The Hamlet, but the murder of Houston, which is really the story of Mink and his wife, was harrowing, and riveting.

I also thought the story of Varner's daughter - woman ..."

Well said, Janice, I think you, Diane and Sara all have valid points. I also like Ratliff and think of him as a stand-in for Faulkner himself. Faulkner lamented the fall of the old south and I don't think he liked the people like Snopes (the clever working class types) who replaced the old guard. Faulkner clung to the old ways and bought an old dilapidated "mansion" (Rowan Oak) and restored the old place. Clinging to the past 60-70 yrs after the Civil War.


message 9: by ALLEN (new)

ALLEN | 138 comments I believe it was Faulker who, ca. 1960, said that the South was the only region of America to have known defeat (in that Civil War). After Vietnam, I suppose that is no longer the case.


Janice (JG) | 136 comments Well, this was such a fine experience. I have written a short review. Thanks for the excuse to pick up Faulkner again!


message 11: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new)

Diane Barnes | 4407 comments Mod
Janice, have you read or will you read the rest of the trilogy? Well worth your time, each one is better than the last.


Franky | 346 comments I just finished it today. I need to reflect a bit on it, but I'll just say that I do have a lot of questions about certain parts of the book. I did find myself getting immersed in Faulkner's prose (in a good way). He was so experimental as a writer that it is quite impressive how he can achieve a certain mood or impression. I have an anthology of his stories and want to read "Barn Burning" now.


Janice (JG) | 136 comments Diane wrote: "Janice, have you read or will you read the rest of the trilogy? Well worth your time, each one is better than the last."

There's another GR group that I am a member of that has the whole Snopes trilogy scheduled beginning in September, and I will finish the trilogy with them. If what you say is true, this will be a true pleasure, and I am eagerly looking forward to it.


message 14: by ALLEN (last edited Jul 16, 2018 07:26AM) (new)

ALLEN | 138 comments Janice (JG) wrote: "Diane wrote: "Janice, have you read or will you read the rest of the trilogy? Well worth your time, each one is better than the last."

There's another GR group that I am a member of that has the whole Snopes trilogy scheduled beginning in September..."


Which group is that, Janet, if I may ask?


message 15: by Janice (JG) (last edited Jul 17, 2018 05:59PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Janice (JG) | 136 comments ALLEN wrote: "There's another GR group that I am a memb...

Which group is that, Janet, if I may ask? ..."


It's a small, closed group. I have sent you a personal message.


back to top