Absalom, Absalom! Essay

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In the following essay, Brooks examines "the quality of Sutpen's innocence" to "understand the meaning of his tragedy."

Absalom, Absalom!,

in my opinion the greatest of Faulkner's novels, is probably the least well understood of all his books. The property of a great work, as T. S. Eliot remarked long ago, is to communicate before it is understood, and Absalom, Absalom! passes this test triumphantly. It has meant something very powerful and important to all sorts of people, and who is to say that, under the circumstances, this something was not the thing to be said to that particular reader?. . .

Harvey Breit's sympathetic introduction to the Modern Library edition provides a useful - because it is not an extreme - instance of the typical misreading that I have in mind. Mr. Breit writes:

It is a terrible Gothic sequence of events, a brooding
tragic fable. . . Was it the...

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This section contains 9,194 words
(approx. 23 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Absalom, Absalom! Study Guide
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