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The Town (1957)

de William Faulkner

Séries: The Snopes Trilogy (2)

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712631,900 (3.97)1 / 72
This is the second volume of Faulkner's trilogy about the Snopes family, his symbol for the grasping, destructive element in the post-bellum South. Like its predecessor, The Hamlet, and its successor, The Mansion, The Town is completely self-contained, but it gains resonance from the other two.The story of Flem Snopes' ruthless struggle to take over the town of Jefferson, Mississippi, the audiobook is rich in typically Faulknerian episodes of humor and of profundity.… (mais)
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 Club Read 2023: The Snopes Trilogy, Volume II, The Town36 por ler / 36dianelouise100, Agosto 2023

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I thought Faulkner’s The Town, second novel in his Snopes Trilogy, more satisfying than The Hamlet. There were not the lapses into soaring and beautiful flights of rhetoric, which I struggled to hold onto, but then just let go of out of frustration. And it did have a plot, a plot which follows a line, as Flem eventually weasels his way into the presidency of the Jefferson Bank, seemingly his goal all along. The writing is Faulknerian, but somewhat simpler and more readable than The Hamlet.

Flem’s character is fleshed out in The Town, and we are given a great deal more understanding of Eula, and her daughter Linda and their relationship to Flem. Linda, a babe in her mother’s arms when the Snopes family arrives in Jefferson, becomes significant; and we now have a team of Snopes watchers: our faithful Ratliff, there when his route brings him to town; Gavin Stevens, young lawyer, educated at Harvard and abroad; and Gavin’s nephew, Chick Malleson, who is not yet born when the Snopeses first arrive. These Snopes watchers provide the narration, each telling us in sections things he has observed for himself or heard about from others. I enjoyed this narrative technique and the variety in narrative voice. And the narrators have plenty to watch and report on. Many of the Snopeses from Frenchman’s Bend move into Jefferson when Flem has a spot for them. A significant new character is Manfred de Spain, son of one of the most aristocratic families in Jefferson. Eula falls in love with him, and surprisingly, their affair proves to be the lasting kind. Flem is aware of this affair, but ignores it. The sorting out of this triangle is perhaps the major plot interest, bringing together its major threads.

There are more surprises in this story, not all happy ones. I enjoyed the novel a great deal and now feel all set up for The Mansion, to see what else Faulkner has in mind for his Snopses ( )
  dianelouise100 | Aug 19, 2023 |
44. The Town : Volume Two, Snopes by William Faulkner
OPD: 1957
format: 371-page hardcover (4th printing from 1957)
acquired: 2006 (From author [[Larry D. Thomas]] read: Jul 8 – Aug 16 time reading: 15:24, 2.5 mpp
rating: 3
genre/style: Classic Fiction theme: Faulkner
locations: Fictional Jefferson Mississippi, roughly 1910’s to 1927
about the author: 1897-1962. American Noble Laureate who was born in New Albany, MS, and lived most of his life in Oxford, MS.

I want to be more circumspect, but I found this tough. Not difficult tough, just not catching, as in it was a drag. Wandering monologues around an ok story.

The book is a direct sequel to [The Hamlet], published 17 years earlier, where Flem Snopes, from nothing, takes over the political and financial dominance of a rural village, including marrying the daughter of the previous dominant person, Will Varner. In The Town, Flem and a couple other characters have moved into the local town of Jefferson, MS. And Flem continues his manipulations, getting key positions to have some control in town utilities and finances. But the story focused on the human side elements, especially on Flem's wife Eula, and his daughter Linda, who is not actually his biological daughter, a sort of open secret.

The story is told through three voices, Charlie Mallison, only 12 when the book, covering about 17 years, finishes, his uncle, Gavin Stevens, and a family friend, V.K. Ratliff, who lived in the village Flem took over and who feels he knows what Flem's up to. Charlie tells us the stories he's been told, sometimes narrating as a "we", as if the whole town is telling the story. Gavin, the Harvard-educated town attorney, is deeply involved, having fallen for Eula, and later, awkwardly, for Eula's teenage daughter. Ratcliff, a sewing machine salesman who used a horse-drawn carriage in the first book, but has upgraded to a motorcar, gives us the town intelligence, sometimes only in hints. Both Ratliff and Gavin would like to stop Flem, but neither seems have much impact on him...until Gavin reaches Flem's daughter.

The story isn't really the point, although it provides a narrative drive and has its moments. The point is early 20th-century southern small-town life during the American technological transition period. The book covers roughly 1910 to 1927. These towns were dominated by traditional leading southern families who sent their children to ivy-league schools, and were characterized by casual law-enforcement, a scurry of unnamed black men and woman filling in the servant roles and other undesirable jobs, while staying almost invisible. Education, economics, and morality seem to all fall in consistent extremes, with a few middle-class skilled or industrious types. Flem, having no education or morality or lineage, makes an exception an influencer.

Not sure anyone needed that whole summary, but if you read it, I hope it serves to show that this isn't a dead book. There is a lot going on here. But it's also a little, or maybe a lot, tough on the reader who just wants to enjoy his or her books. Recommended only to Faulkner completists.

2023
https://www.librarything.com/topic/351556#8212122
  dchaikin | Aug 19, 2023 |
I know, this is Faulkner, so I should be in awe, but instead, I just found this rather exhausting. The idea is interesting (different voices, points of view), the story is rather slow going but definitely realistic in its capturing of human ideas, emotions, and motivations. Still... ( )
  WiebkeK | Jan 21, 2021 |
I don't know how many times I've read this...fewer than I've read The Hamlet, but not by a lot. It is just as funny, just as tragic, and just as frustrating, as every other time I've read it, but now I know I can skim the Gavin Stevens sections for the kernels of story buried in them, and just relish the Ratliff sections for all they're worth. This novel is Faulkner's tale of how a family of schemers and ne'er-do-wells moves into the town of Jefferson, Mississippi, from out in the boonies (Frenchman's Bend), singly and in bunches, and sets the place on its ear. Poor over-educated Lawyer Stevens, infatuated first with Eula Varner Snopes, and later obsessed with saving her daughter from what he imagines to be a stunted existence, expends all the words ever in trying to sort out motivations and intentions and passions, but as his friend V. K. Ratliff constantly points out, he mostly gets it wrong. A grand little piece of the Yoknapatawpha saga. ( )
2 vote laytonwoman3rd | May 4, 2020 |
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This is the second volume of Faulkner's trilogy about the Snopes family, his symbol for the grasping, destructive element in the post-bellum South. Like its predecessor, The Hamlet, and its successor, The Mansion, The Town is completely self-contained, but it gains resonance from the other two.The story of Flem Snopes' ruthless struggle to take over the town of Jefferson, Mississippi, the audiobook is rich in typically Faulknerian episodes of humor and of profundity.

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