Suggested Readings

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Backman, Melvin. Faulkner, the Major Years: A Critical Study. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1966.

Blotner, Joseph. Faulkner: A Biography. 2 vols. New York: Random House, 1974. A lengthy biography of William Faulkner’s life and work. Shows how Absalom, Absalom! evolved to become what Blotner considers Faulkner’s most important and ambitious contribution to American literature.

Brooks, Cleanth. “History and the Sense of the Tragic.” In William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Country. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1963.

Brooks, Cleanth. William Faulkner: Toward Yoknapatawpha and Beyond. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1978. The appendices are an especially valuable aid. One essay discusses Brooks’s answer to the question of how typical Thomas Sutpen is of the “Southern planter.” Another focuses on the narrative structure of the novel.

Ladd, Barbara. “The Direction of the Howling’: Nationalism and the Color Line in Absalom, Absalom!American Literature 66, no. 3 (September, 1994): 525-551.

Leary, Lewis. William Faulkner of Yoknapatawpha County. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1973. Chapter 5 describes Absalom, Absalom! as disclosing the way history is made and legends develop. Cites examples of how Thomas Sutpen’s story emerges as a jigsaw puzzle, as various narrators’ contributions finally fit together to disclose a design.

Minter, David. William Faulkner: His Life and Work. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980. Provides a context for the writing of Absalom, Absalom! Identifies the force of the novel as emerging from entangled relationships among generations of “doomed” families, races, and sexes. Discusses relationships between the narrators’ stories and their lives.

Poirier, Richard. “Strange Gods’ in Jefferson, Mississippi: Analysis of Absalom, Absalom!” In Twentieth Century Interpretations of “Absalom, Absalom!”: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Arnold Goldman. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971.

Volpe, Edmond L. A Reader’s Guide to William Faulkner. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1964. An earlier treatment of Faulkner’s novels, this volume remains valuable. Sections on narrative structure and technique as well as on key characters. Contains a genealogy and a helpful chronology of events.

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Essays and Criticism