Here, for the first time published in a single volume as Faulkner always hoped they would be, are the three novels that compose the famous Snopes trilogy, a saga that stands as perhaps the greatest feat of Faulkner's imagination. The Hamlet, the first book of the series chronicling the advent and rise of the grasping Snopes family in mythical Yoknapatawpha County, in a work that Cleanth Brooks called "one of the richest novels in the Faulkner canon." It recounts how the wily, cunning Flem Snopes uses an exploiter's mentality to dominate the rural community of Frenchman's Bend--and claim the voluptuous Eula Varner as his bride. The Town, the second novel, records Flem's ruthless struggle to take over the county seat of Jefferson, Mississippi. The book is rich in typically Faulknerian episodes of humor and profundity and explores love, both sacred and profane. Finally, The Mansion tells of Mink Snopes, whose archaic sense of honor brings about the downfall of his cousin Flem. "For all his concern with the South, Faulkner was actually seeking out the nature of man," noted Ralph Ellison. "Thus we must turn to him for that continuity of moral purpose which made for the greatness of our classics." This volume includes a new introduction to the trilogy by acclaimed novelist George Garrett, author of Death of the Fox and The Succession.
"The insidious horror of Snopesism is its lack of any kind of integrity--its pliability, its parasitic vitality as of some low-grade, thoroughly stubborn organism--and its almost selfless ability to keep up pressure as if it were a kind of elemental force. These are Flem's special qualities. The difficulty of fighting Flem and Snopesism in general is that it is like fighting a kind of gangrene or some sort of loathsome mold. The quality of honor--even a mean and rancorous 'honor'--would immediately make it vulnerable.... It is because he lacks honor that Flem is really invulnerable.... It will therefore be only the madman, the outlaw, or the passionate man who can strike him down.... Flem is a kind of monster who has betrayed everyone, first in his lust for pure money-power, and later in what Faulkner regards as a more loathsome lust, a desire for respectability."
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March 15, 1994
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