Essays include a close reading of the novel from the critical standpoint of feminist theory, an analysis of the novel's cultural and historical context and a discussion of the critical reception of Absalom, Absalom!
The purpose of this collection of sixteen essays on William Faulkner's multi-faceted novel is to provide the reader who has read or is about to read Absalom, Absalom! with as much of a multi-faceted perspective as possible.
Faulkner created a novel so complex that every interpretation of his "little postage stamp of native soil" is as valid as a single postage stamp in a postal system. Each essay is limited by its premise, but that very limitation enables the critic to focus the reader's attention upon an aspect of this multifaceted novel. The value of each of these pieces is not only what it reveals but what it does not reveal, enabling the reader to participate in the critical process by questioning, disagreeing, conjuring his or her own insights along the way.
The opening six original essays offer basic, clearly stated perspectives: a brief view of Faulkner's life and works; and two close readings of Absalom, Absalom! that apply specific critical methods. The novel in a cultural-historical context is also discussed, as is the novel's critical reception. Many more narrowly-focused essays discuss the novel from a feminist standpoint, its relationship to The Great Gatsby and All the King's Men.
The narrative perspective and the storytelling themes that pervade the novel are discussed at length as is the interwoven web of facts that enriches Absalom, Absalom! with countless dimensions. Tensions between the old south and the modern era are explored. Faulkner's structure and prose style are meticulously investigated. In sum, this reference provides a remarkably rich, deeply varied number of perspectives on a novel that continues to offer new insight into its complex design and execution.
Each essay is 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes. Finally, the volume's appendixes offer a section of useful reference resources:
- A chronology of the author's life
- A complete list of the author's works and their original dates of publication
- A general bibliography
- A detailed paragraph on the volume's editor
- Notes on the individual chapter authors
- A subject index