In An Introduction to Metaphysics, Martin Heidegger wrote that the central concern of the National Socialist party was the confrontation between modern man and technology. Do you find it believable that Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler were primarily concerned with the spiritual fulfillment with which we approached our daily lives, and went to such great lengths of struggle to try to fix the modern world away from technomania? If you believe this, you will also believe the central thesis that William Faulkner presents in "The Unvanquished".

"The Unvanquished" is set during and after the Civil War, and its central thesis is that the war was fought so that the south could keep its multi-racial, communitarian system where the people of all races were free to live independently. And you can get into all types of discussions about authors and narrators, and the differences between them, but this is what Faulkner is more or less arguing, without irony and with a straight face.

Other than that political message, their is a lot of killing, drunkeness, madness, an affair with the main character's step-mother, by which time I had stopped paying attention. Also, a duel. And some dead mules. Also: (Note: when I originally wrote this, I included a racial epithet used by Faulkner, as a note of disgust, but even as a criticism, I didn't feel comfortable with it, so I am removing it.

This book is useful in some ways. Many many years ago, I had a very bad encounter with someone from the south, and if I had read this book I would have never had it: I would have understood the cultural need to spin narratives of persecution, to constantly be threatening other people because the Southerner is constantly being oppressed by a world that does not understand their simple, poetic lifestyles. And of course, this applies to our current national stage as well, as we must fight the Long Twilight Struggle to slowly get it into their heads that THEIR NARRATIVE DOES NOT MATTER TO US.


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