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Thursday, June 24, 2010


I work too much. No time to actually write much here. I apologize. In related news, I've started writing short sentences. Well, I hope that's something I'll shake again.

I started my time back in the US off with another Faulkner novel I had had lying around for quite a while, Sartoris. It was one of the first he wrote and the very first to introduce the world to Yoknapatawpha County and its main city, Jefferson. Considering it might not come as a surprise then that it is not his strongest novel ever. Absalom, Absalom, The Hamlet, or The Town clearly are in a different league. Yet, if you are not choosing Sartoris as your introduction to one of the greatest writers ever (I'm trying to be objective here, that's why I added 'the one of the' part), it is still a very good book.

In a way it sometimes feels as if Faulkner is testing what he explored in further detail and fashion in his later novels. We are introduced to a Snope (it's not Flem), the Sartoris family and Jefferson life and history in general. Without going into detail I also had the impression that Faulkner tested out some of the descriptive technique which make reading him so fascinating and complicated in this book.

In a few words only, Colonel Sartoris is a legendary founding figure of Jefferson. Faulkner portrays his sister, son and great-grandson, who in Southern - or should I say Faulknerian - fashion fail to live up to their ancestor's celebrated past. The way the South never managed to live up to its billing after reconstruction. How does one reconcile a self-perceived history with a miserable and poor present?

What was fascinating to me, was how Faulkner's portrayal of his - secondary - black characters differed from those who appear in his later novels. He does of course have strong black character, Lucas Beauchamp et al, which is something Sartoris is not blessed with, but instead one black character coming back from the war here actually puts into question blacks' subordinate role in the South in a (semi-)provocative manner. It seemed a bit different.

What does that leave us with then? Clearly that I need to read through the rest of Faulkner's novels and then pick up again those which I read a long time ago. He's worth it!

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