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Go Down, Moses (Faulkner, Annotated): Annotations (William Faulkner, Annotations to the Novels) Hardcover – 23 Feb 1994

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (23 Feb. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081531714X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815317142
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,663,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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[Title of the Novel] William Faulkner published his thirteenth novel on May 11, 1942. Read the first page
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Mar. 1999
Format: Hardcover
It becomes quite clear after reading Go Down Moses why many critics call this William Falkner's most mature book dealing with race. In Go Down Moses, the black characters are not only as well represented as may be possible from a white author, they are believable and easy to relate to. The main character "Uncle Ike", the grandson of an influential plantation owner, comes to represent everyone who struggles with identity in the miserable face of racism. The style of the book itself was confusing for readers and critics when first published, as it makes use of a series of chapters, each with its own title and numbered sections. Faulkner resisted having the book called a collection of short stories and most modern readers should have little problem with its nonsequential chapters and its sometimes, seemingly, unrelated characters. If you have read some Faulkner, especially A Light in August or Absalom, Absalom or if you enjoy authors such as Toni Morrison and Richard Wright you must read this book to get an idea of just how far Faulkner came toward wrestling with race in his time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback
Over the last few years I've been reading, but mainly re-reading many of Faulkner's works, appreciating his novels even more the second time around. I just completed "Go Down, Moses" for the first time, and it seems, inadvertently, in the best biblical tradition, I've saved the best novel for last. It is actually a collection of seven stories, all interlinked, with "The Bear" being the sine qua non. Like Immanuel Kant, who purported never went further than 30 km from his birthplace in Koningsberg in his entire life, Faulkner was able to produce masterpiece after masterpiece drawing upon the complex human relationships in the almost postage stamp size piece of the United States that he call Yoknapatawpha Co., with its county seat of Jefferson, which corresponded to Oxford, Lafayette Co, Mississippi. Faulkner appears to have become a master of both the history, as well as the genealogy of the characters there. He hints at how this may have transpired: a ledger, with short entries that covered the salient events in a person's life. But he must have also have sat on benches, in that famous square in Oxford, and listened to the tales of the old-timers, and was able to assimilate all the tales, and produce a comprehensive picture of the events in the lives of the McCaskin's. It was indeed a hard rain that fell, as Bob Dylan once sang, including the subject line, all too appropriate for Faulkner, and these stories.

Faulkner selected three main characters whose longevity was such that the entire history of the area, from the very first settlement, to the present (1940, when the book was published) could be told. He starts with "Uncle Ike" McCaskin, who was "uncle to half the county, and father to no one," now in his 70's, approaching 80.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James Gallen TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 26 May 2004
Format: Paperback
“Go Down , Moses” was formed out of the melding of a series of short stories into a novel about the McCaslin family of Jefferson, Mississippi. Extending through the life of Ike McCaslin, his youthful experiences help him to later face a crucial test about his family’s legacy. The complex racial relations of Faulkner’s novels introduce the reader to a world which most of us could never understand or even imagine.
Like other Faulkner novels, I find the dialogue and stream of consciousness to be the most alluring qualities of the book. The thoughts of the characters, the descriptions of the scenes and the dialogues paint mental pictures of the action in which the reader can feel himself to be a part.
I had a bit of trouble following the story line, but the descriptions mentioned above carry the book. Faulkner is a magician with the pen. For that, this book is a good read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 67 reviews
111 of 114 people found the following review helpful
An Excellent Introduction to the World of Faulkner 5 Dec. 2003
By D. Anderson - Published on
Format: Paperback
I first bought "Go Down, Moses" for an undergraduate course in American Literature, read "The Bear" as required, and quickly forgot about the rest of the book. This Thanksgiving I picked it up again as a replacement for my usual airport-bookstore holiday reading. Thank goodness! Nothing like some heavy-duty race and environmental issues to spice up your turkey and stuffing.
Faulkner has always been a pleasant read for me, because I find it quite challenging. "Go Down, Moses" is no exception. In particular, the genealogy of the McCaslin-Edmonds-Beauchamp family causes no end of confusion. You will encounter characters named McCaslin Edmonds, Carothers McCaslin, Carothers McCaslin Edmonds, etc... (I found drawing a family tree helped me immensely)! Furthermore, the narrative is hardly linear; characters jump around in space and time, tell stories of other peoples' experiences in the midst of their own reminiscences, and in general relate their tales in a manner that will keep you constantly flipping back and forth through the book. That being said, I happen to *enjoy* books like this, where the reader is not a passive recipient of information but actively engaged in the process of determining plot, characters, and truth. I like this style because it reminds me of how we construct narratives in our own minds. We go off on tangents, we ramble endlessly before returning suddenly to our original subject, we remember things as they occur to us more often than we do in chronological order. Faulkner is more psychologist than novelist: he puts us inside the minds of his characters and lets them tell the story for themselves. If you want a clear-cut, action-driven story instead of a thoughtful and intimate history, Faulkner is not for you.
For those still with me, the particular thoughtful and intimate history portrayed in "Go Down, Moses" is that of a Mississippi plantation family and their relationships with their slaves, their land, and their own histories from the antebellum era to the Depression. As many prior reviewers have pointed out, this is indeed a book about race, and I have yet to see a more chilling, touching, and humanly accurate description of race relations in the South. But in my mind an equally crucial, yet often-overlooked, theme of "Go Down, Moses" is the issue of man's relation to land, ownership, and the natural world. Faulkner's descriptions of the virgin Mississippi forest and the vanishing Delta region are both beautiful and powerful, and I think contribute equally to the book in providing it with its distinctive flavor and voice.
As one reviewer has previously mentioned, reading "The Bear" as a standalone story is simply not sufficient. For one, it is the longest section by far in the book, and new readers of Faulkner may easily lose track of the story, or just as easily lose interest altogether. Furthermore, the remainder of this excellent work provides a framework for an understanding and identification with the characters and the landscape of rural Mississippi that they inhabit. Many people - including myself - initially mistake "Go Down, Moses" for a collection of short stories, and this is certainly understandable. Each section of the book *can* be read as a single story, but I wouldn't recommend it. I would recommend (as I did this second time around), reading all the sections in order, starting with "Was". I think this narrative is as fine as any for demonstrating Faulkner's unusual narrative style and flowing, stream-of-consciousness language. If you like "Was," you will almost certainly like the rest of this book; if you like the whole book, you will almost certainly like the majority of Faulkner's works (particularly "The Sound and the Fury," which I cut my Faulkner-loving teeth on in high school).
In the final analysis, however, I think this book serves as the best possible introduction to Faulkner. If you're not sure how you'll feel about his writing, you certainly can read a few sections and see what you think, without feeling completely lost. Faulkner's writing is in top form here, and his characters are compelling, touching, and as always somewhat flawed - they're so human, it's enough to make you... keep reading.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Hard, challenging ... will bust your preconceptions 27 Oct. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I read Go Down Moses in 1996 before taking a trip to Mississippi. I had never read Faulkner before and had only one criterion for picking a book of his: it had to take place in the mythical Yoknapatawpha County. I picked this one off the library shelf.
For any non-southern American whose sole exposure to what happened there was from history books, this should forever shatter the pat preconceptions and simplistic black and white (no pun intended!) formulas they were taught.
The book plunges you into a vast panorama of ambiguities and contradictions. It was clear to me from the first paragraph that Faulkner was a genius. In the whole history of literature, he surely stands among a select few at the very pinnacle of greatness.
Go Down Moses is a tremendous struggle to get through. Some parts are straightforward and easy, but there are others that you can't hope to make literal sense of. You're bombarded by its twisted grammar. Its frantic confusion. Its endlessly unresolved sentences. But through these, Faulkner ultimately conveys the pain of history -- past and present. The emotion of that pain seems more real to him than the specific incidents it sprang from. Why else would a book begun in pre-Civil War Mississippi -- entirely skip it -- picking up again a generation later?
This book is about the South. Having read it, Faulkner walked beside me every step of the way I took through his state. But this book also has a sub-theme that should not be overlooked. Faulkner was a profound environmentalist, although sharply contrasted with how we usually think of that term. Hunters don't much fit the mold of environmentalism -- and Faulkner was an avid one of that lot. So, in that sense, along with all the sociological, he can shake you up pretty good! Go Down Moses contains some of the most wrenching descriptions you could hope to find on the loss of wilderness. There is nothing ambiguous in his portrayal of that loss. Faulkner may confound everything you thought you believed of Southern sociology, but in an environmental sense, he leaves no room for confusion. Leave those trees standing!
This book will grip you; I can't imagine it having a lesser effect. Like all truly great art, it should change you forever.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
A tremendous book with brilliant imagery and emotion 11 Mar. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I had never read any Faulkner until I picked this off my bookshelf while browsing. Out of my wife's american literature classes has come what I feel to be one the best written books I have read in quite some time. The people are tortured, alive and very well described. The races are diagnosed in merciless precision and scrutiny, the unfortunate frustrations that plague them both. (there don't seem to be many other types of people in the stories except a few Indians) But this is art, literature the way it is supposed to be written. The language of Faulkner literally soars off the page with insight, feeling and relevance to the story. These Southern lives are mixed together, bringing forth a mulatto-rainbow mix of wonder and mystery and deep appreciation, a well developed reverence for life, its pain and people, suffering through a walk on the blessed earth. Truly great writing as compassionate as it is accurately reflecting the Southern world, post slave to this century through the eyes of a family smorgasbord of bloodlines and personalites. If you want to enjoy reading and have wondered at times why you are wasting your time on cultured pulp, this book will set you back on the right path.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Hard lives in Mississippi 2 Feb. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This was a book I'd been meaning to read for years. It was decades ahead of its time, and today it is considered by many to be the quintessential work of American environmental fiction. "The Bear" is the chapter most often mentioned in discussions about this novel, and rightfully so: it makes some eloquently powerful statements about race, honor, technology (even before the concept came into common usage), and about humans' relationship to the land. The prose is often difficult, confusing, dense, and vague, but the rewards generally outweigh the hard work needed to read this book. For the most part, the other stories lack the intensity and coherence of "The Bear," but I found "Delta Autumn" to be every bit as accessible and potent, and it accomplishes this in a hundred fewer pages. I recommend the book, although I don't think it's necessary to read it in its entirety. Stretch out in front of a blazing fire on an old bearskin rug and let your mind drift back a hundred years.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Don't just read "The Bear"!!!! 14 Dec. 2002
By A Reader - Published on
Format: Paperback
Please, please do not pass over the other fine stories in GO DOWN, MOSES and go straight to "The Bear." This gem means much more when illuminated by the other parts of the text, and only by reading the entire book can you fully understand the meaning of Ike's repudiation of the McCaslin land. I recently completed a Faulkner course, and of all of his "genius" novels--"As I Lay Dying," "Light in August," "Go Down, Moses," "The Sound and the Fury," and "Absalom! Absalom!"--I believe that this one has the strongest emotional core. Read the whole thing; your experience will be much richer.
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