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'Absalom, Absalom!' Quotes

William Faulkner's famous work...

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Absalom, Absalom! is a Southern Gothic novel by William Faulkner. The work is one of the master works for which Faulkner is most well known, and it describes the rise and fall in fortunes of Thomas Sutpen--told through several narrators. Some of the characters and the setting (Yoknapatawpha County) are familiar to readers of Faulkner's fiction. Here are a few quotes from Absalom, Absalom!
  • the deep South dead since 1865 and peopled with garrulous outraged baffled ghosts..."
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!, Ch. 1

  • "his very body was an empty hall echoing with sonorous defeated names; he was not a being, an entity, he was a commonwealth. He was a barracks filled with stubborn, back-looking ghosts..."
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!, Ch. 1

  • "the chance and probability of meddling interference arising out of the disapprobation of all communities of men toward any situation which they do not understand."
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

  • "We have a few old mouth-to-mouth tales, we exhume from old trunks and boxes and drawers letters without salutation or signature, in which men and women who once lived and breathed are now merely initials or nicknames out of some now incomprehensible affection which sound to us like Sanskrit or Chocktaw; we see dimly people, the people in whose living blood and seed we ourselves lay dormant and waiting, in this shadowy attenuation of time possessing now heroic proportions, performing their acts of simple passion and simple violence, impervious to time and inexplicable..."
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

  • "what is probably the most moving mass-sight of all human mass-experience, far more so than the spectacle of so many virgins going to be sacrificed to some heathen Principle, some Priapus--the sight of young men, the light quick bones, the bright gallant deluded blood and flesh dressed in a martial glitter of brass and plumes, marching away to a battle."
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

  • "They lead beautiful lives--women. Lives not only divorced from, but irrevocably excommunicated from, all reality."
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

  • "all the old accumulated rubbish-years which we call memory, the recognizable I, but changing from phase to phase as the butterfly changes once the cocoon is cleared, carrying nothing of what was into what is..."
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

  • "I learned little save that most of the deeds, good and bad both, incurring opprobrium or plaudits or reward either, within the scope of man's abilities, had already been performed and were to be learned about only from books."
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

  • "you knew it all already, had learned, absorbed it already without the medium of speech somehow from having been born and living beside it, with it, as children will and do."
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

  • "that meagre and fragile thread... by which the little surface corners and edges of men's secret and solitary lives may be joined for an instant now and then before sinking back into the darkness where the spirit cried for the first time and was not heard and will cry for the last time and will not be heard then either..."
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

  • "probably by that time he had learned that there were three things and no more: breathing, pleasure, darkness..."
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

  • "some day you are bound to fall in love. They just wouldn't beat you that way. It would be like if God had got Jesus born and saw that He had the carpenter tools and then never gave Him anything to build with them."
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

  • "The two of them creating between them, out of the rag-tag and bob-ends of old tales and talking, people who perhaps had never existed at all anywhere, who, shadows, were shadows not of flesh and blood which had lived and died but shadows in turn of what were (to one of them at least, to Shreve) shades too..."
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

  • "Maybe nothing ever happens once and is finished. Maybe happen is never once but like ripples maybe on water after the pebble sinks, the ripples moving on, spreading, the pool attached by a narrow umbilical water-cord to the next pool..."
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

  • You cannot know yet whether what you see is what you are looking at or what you are believing."
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

  • "I think that in time the Jim Bonds are going to conquer the western hemisphere. Of course it wont quite be in our time and of course as they spread toward the poles they will bleach out again like the rabbits and the birds do, so they wont show up so sharp against the snow. But it will still be Jim Bond; and so in a few thousand years, I who regard you will also have sprung from the loins of African kings."
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

  • "You cant understand it. You would have to be born there."
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

  • "I dont hate it he thought, panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark: I dont. I dont! I dont hate it! I dont hate it!"
    - William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

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