The Mansion (Text Key 230)


With The Mansion Faulkner brings the saga of Flem Snopes to a close - thirty years after he began writing it. His very first Yoknapatawpha manuscript, "Father Abraham," was intended to recount the "gradual eating-up of Jefferson by Snopes." He put that manuscript aside after writing about 18,000 words, but his imaginative preoccupation with Flem, and with the modern Southern phenomenon he labeled "Snopesism," persisted. By 1938 he had decided to tell the story in "three books," perhaps even "three separate volumes," with the third book to be titled "ILIUM FALLING" - a classical allusion that aligns the story with other Modernist representations of the anti-heroic present, like Joyce's Ulysses. By 1939, he had decided to call the trilogy's final volume "The Mansion" instead, but although he published the first volume, The Hamlet, in 1940, it was not until the mid-1950s that he resumed work on the trilogy. The middle volume, The Town, came out in 1957. By then Faulkner was already working steadily on volume three. "Mink Snopes," excerpted from the first chapter, appeared in the December 1959 issue of Esquire magazine, and immediately afterward the novel was published.

Chapter 13 of the novel is a revision of the short story "By the People," published by Mademoiselle in 1955. Throughout the novel Faulkner makes frequent references to or retells other parts of the Snopes story that been described in The Hamlet and The Town. Not surprisingly, given the length of time between the beginning and end of this long gestation, while writing The Mansion Faulkner introduced a number of inconsistencies into the story. His new editor at Random House, Albert Erksine, was troubled by these chronological and narrative discrepancies, and tried conscientiously before the novel was published and again for some years afterward to bring the three parts of the trilogy into alignment. Faulkner himself was a good deal less bothered by the problem, but in the months leading up to the novel's publication in 1959 did work closely with Erskine to try to solve it. For more on this, see the letters and tables in the "Manuscripts Etc." display. Our representation of the novel is based on the "corrected text" established by Noel Polk in 1994, as published by Vintage International in 2011.

SOURCE: Joseph Blotner, ed., Selected Letters of William Faulkner.

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Random House
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New York
First Publisher Date: 
13 November 1959
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Vintage International
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New York
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How to cite this resource:
Burgers, Johannes H., John Corrigan and Ben Robbins. "Faulkner's The Mansion." Added to the project: 2018. Digital Yoknapatawpha, University of Virginia,