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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Hamlet

I am in a transient living situation right now, which means I haven't set up my harddrives here, which translates to there being no title songs for a lil...

Apart from that I had a nice and relaxing vacation in Italy and finally got around to read a couple of books again - if not as many as I would have liked to. I will post on these books over the next few days.

The first one I read was The Hamlet by William Faulkner. This actually might be the hardest one to write anything about. Just saying it is by Faulkner seems to be enough. He is hands-down one of the greatest writers - if not the single greatest - I have ever read. The Hamlet he wrote in 1940 and it describes Flem Snopes beginning rise to power in Yoknapatawpha County. It is the first part of a trilogy about the Snopes family in general. In a way I guess it could be described as vintage Faulkner containing pre-marital sex, violence and even bestiality. Yet, these outbursts of the ugly side of life is not what Faulkner focuses on, rather it is the ruthless rise of Flem Snopes who slowly takes over Frenchman's Bend.

Flem in a lot of ways resembles the carpet-bagger who comes in from the North and through his bold and ruthless measures overpowers the naive locals, only that he himself alos comes from a poor, white sharecropping family. The only individual capable of putting up any kind of resistance to Flem is Ratliff. He also is a successful and scheming dealer and wheeler, but he always stays in the limits of Southern courteousy, thus limiting himself in his actions against Flem. If Ratliff can be taken as a symbol for the Old South then and Flem as one for Modernity arriving in the backwaters of Mississippi, it should be quite clear who will win in the end.

This in itself is nothing new for a Faulner novel. They all seem to deal with the vanishing of the Old South. Yet, they do so in manners and stories that differ a lot from each other and Faulkner's eloquence and powerful imagery ensur that the reader (read: me) is always grasped by the unfolding events. While it is clear that in a Faulkner Pantheon The Hamlet need not be included and that for the uninitiated reader I would propose to start out with Absalom, Absalom or Intruder in the Dust, this, like all of Faulkner's novels really, is a very intruiging and interesting book that I would recommend anyone to pick up if the see it anywhere. I know that I will get myself the latter two books of the trilogy when I see them somewhere and my reading schedule and budget allow for it to happen.

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