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Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Hamlet (1940) by William Faulkner

Book Review
The Hamlet (1940)
by William Faulkner
 
  Often said to be the least Faulkernian of Faulkner's major novels, The Hamlet is book one of the so-called "Snopes trilogy."  If you come to The Hamlet after reading Faulkner's earlier works, you may have some of the same thoughts I had while reading The Hamlet, first, that Faulkner was tired of people "not getting" his books and wanted to write something that norms would understand. Second, that The Hamlet was not written as a novel at all but is rather four inter connected stories which take place in chronological order and feature overlapping characters.

  Unlike the Compson family, reoccurring characters from his earlier books whose declining gentility sets the tone for "early Faulkner," the Snopes clan is decidedly down market, share croppers with no fixed homeland who appear in the shared territory of all of Faulkner's books: Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi as economic migrants.  Yoknapatawpha County was based on the area around Oxford, Mississippi, and like all of his books the landscape is a major character. I lost count of the number of times Faulkner either describes something as decayed or uses a synonym for decay in reference to some aspect of the landscape.

 He also throws in a straight forward cow fucking scene, taking its place among the rogues gallery of mentally challenged characters in Faulkner books committing vile sex crimes.  I mean, I guess fucking a cow isn't that vile a sex crime but it just comes up apropos of nothing.

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