Sutpen was a man, Faulker said, "who wanted sons and the sons destroyed him". His tragedy left its impress not only on his contemporaries but also on men who came after, men like Quentin Compson, haunted even into the 20th century by Sutpen's legacy of ruthlessness and singleminded disregard for the human community.
©1986 Jill Faulkner Summers; ©1993 Books on Tape, Inc.
As noted by other reviewers, "Absalom Absalom" does require some effort on the part of the listener; it might be worth having a printed copy to refer to in order to keep track of the rich complexities of the plot and the narrative voices (I referred to an online study guide as I had no copy of the book). But Grover Gardner's masterly reading enables the listener not only to make sense of the text, but to revel in the wonderfully full, almost poetic cadences of language so rich as to be almost musical. The listening in itself was a pleasure.
As for the book as a novel, it has so much to discover : themes of race, gender, American history, prejudice, equality, sexual morality to name but a few; a structure so clever as to be an object of satisfaction in itself, especially combined with the complex interweaving of the time patterns; a magnificently Gothic atmosphere, especially the last scene, the forcefulness of which can rival any other.
I am grateful to previous reviewers for recommending a book which otherwise I would never have discovered, and to Grover Garner to bringing alive this remarkable novel from a powerful author.
It seems Faulmner's Absalom, Absalom holds the world record for the longest sentence ever written. So that is how difficult this work gets. I twice gave up reading the print edition. But this audio recording by Grover Gardner, I listened mesmerized. The long winding incomprehensible sentences suddenly turned poetic. It was like mist lifting to reveal the beautiful scenery behind. I have read few thrillers so engrossed. So that is it then the recording has made a thriller out of an unreadable classic. It doesn't get better than that.
Absalom is a difficult book and whether you read or listen there will be long passages where you just want to cry 'get on with it' and yet as the book goes on this is all necessary and the repetition and endless looking at the same thing from a slightly different angle brings you further in than most any of book... normally I would say read the book first then listen to it but actually in this case sit back, listen, don't worry if parts don't make sense, don't worry about seeming repetition and glory in hearing this novel read in a southern accent!
I wish I could give more stars for the book. Since at one point in history the work was rewarded by Nobel Prize. And I really wanted to read (to listen) to it. and I tried. for few hours. I realy tried hard to grasp the storyline. and I failed. Because its impossible to put a completed thought in a centence 3 pages (5min.) long. The narator's voice contributed to unpleasant listening. It may be southern accent, but it sounds more like one of bravade-propaganda of news readers on TV in 60s.
Well, it's like Picasso in art, not for everyone. Faulkner in literature, not for everyone either.
This is a story told from many points of view, of quite a few narrators, each of them knowing only certain part of it and trying to figure out the rest. As the story unfolds more details and layers are being revealed. Time shifts and quasi poetic language can be off putting but don't give up, there will be that point when you'll start comprehending and it will become clearer. Faulkner is an author like no other, with his unique style and motifs, recognisable yet different in every novel, difficult but rewarding in the end.
"A long, enjoyable listen"
This was the first Faulkner novel I attempted to read/listen since high school (when I thought I'd never read Faulkner again). With that said, I found this audiobook to be really excellent, and I plan to buy more of Faulkner's books. The reader was crisp, clear, and fit the book perfectly. Warning: this story/ plot line may be difficult to follow. If one is unfamiliar with the story, I recommend consulting some sort of plot chronology because it makes the listening experience a lot more enjoyable. (google University of Virginia and Absolom)
"Narrator made the difficult easy."
I was nervous to read Faulkner having always heard how difficult his novels were. I was pleasantly surprised by the ease at which I was able to handle Absalom, Absalom! I give full credit for that to the excellent interpretation of Mr. Gardner. I never had trouble following the thoughts or complicated storyline of Faulkner's masterpiece. I now believe he is a MUST READ.
This book was a difficult but great read. Faulkner makes use of an interesting technique by jumping back and forth between the past and the present with many of the characters. By doing this he creates a patchwork of small bits of information that eventually come together as a whole piece. Although this creates a very unique read it also becomes hard to keep all the facts straight, but if you stick through to the end you will not be let down.
PS: The second time through is better
"Faulkner at his finest!"
It is hard to say which of Faulkner's works is my favorite, but Absalom, Absalom! certainly ranks in the top three. Grover Gardner is wonderful as the narrator, too. Faulkner, of course, is not an easy read, but with time one can begin to understand the "flow" of Faulkner's writing. I think this Audible presentation is an excellent way to capture Faulkner's wonderful poetic voice. Highly recommended!
For me having this book read to me as I read along w/ an actual book in hand made this book much easier to comprehend. I tried first to read the book, and then just listening to the audio book~I needed to do both. The more you listened, the easier this story was to follow. You get pulled in by the author and the narrator.
"Outstanding All Around"
I love Faulkner, and had tried to get through reading this book three times, all without success. The writing, while beautiful, is just so dense, and takes so much concentration to understand, that I plain ran out of steam each time. But I decided to give the audio book a try. My thinking was that maybe a narrator would interpret the writing, and give me a boost in understanding it all.
Unlike most of my plans and schemes, this one worked to perfection! Grover Gardner did a flat-out incredible job narrating. His tones, his inflections, his interpretations, were uniformly superb. With his help, the novel became comprehensible. I wasn't even aware when he hit the infamous 1300-plus-word sentence, it was all so smooth.
And what a novel! I hadn't known beforehand that this book is held in such esteem by Faulknerians, but it is, and justly so. It is breathtaking in scope and execution, nearly on a par with The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying. And praise doesn't come higher than that.
Thank you, Grover Gardner, thank you Audible!
A terrific novel -- one of the finest written in America. And as a Southerner I have to salute the narrator. His accents weren't bad.
"One of my favorites"
This is my favorite William Faulkner book and one of my favorite books generally. I have read it myself and now as an audio. Narration is almost perfect, the book is masterful. The story keeps turning and turning and the fable reinvents itself as you get new perspectives and more details. Even having read it several years before, I had waited long enough to get the shock from the surprises, especially the last one. Its awesome. Spellbinding. If you love long sentences, this book is heaven. It feels like one long single sentence and thought. And it is something of an allegory for the South itself on the whole, but you can take it as just a good story of hard characters too. There are no other books like this, though it clearly inspired in part the good Watson legend by Peter Mathiesen, peaking with "Bone by Bone" which I also recommend. If you want more of this.
"My First Dive into Faulkner"
Grover Gardener wins awards for a reason - his narration is pitch perfect, he emotes the sense of place and character flawlessly. I am a real fan.
An excellent read of a classic Faulkner work. It will not be my last
Truth is fungible and ephemeral. It rests in the minds of the beholder and disappears in the light of history.
So many interpretations; so little time; “Absalom, Absalom!” is a masterpiece of literature for its phrasing, for its human exploration, and for its maddening reinvention of itself. If one of the criteria of literary success is a book’s nagging temptation to be re-read, “Absalom, Absalom!” deserves a Nobel Prize for literature (which Faulkner wins in 1949).
In the beginning, a reader is cast into confusion by a woman’s rant about Thomas Sutpen, a man she cohabitates with, nearly marries, and despises. Faulkner’s prose is all that keeps one trudging through this diatribe of discontent. Confusion reigns for several pages until a dim light of understanding reveals Thomas Sutpen as a driven, ill-educated, and poor Virginian that migrates to Mississippi with a plan, i.e. a plan to become wealthy, respected, and immortal; like a King of Jerusalem.
This is no easy read but it consumes one’s attention and helps one understand amoral behavior, slavery, discrimination and how they lead to inhumanity and destruction.
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