In a series of episodes set during and after the American Civil War Faulkner profiles the people of the South - who might surrender but could never be vanquished. The characters are largely based on Faulkner's own family; in particular, Colonel John Sartoris is a fairly faithful portrait of the author's extraordinary great-grandfather - a notable personality who fought in Mexico, was tried for murder, raised a Confederate regiment, built a railway, ran a plantation, and published a bestseller.
This is a puzzler. It reads as though someone had told Faulkner to cut out the smut and the dirty words, with the result that all the virility of his story disappears. Apparently, he needs the props, to give seeming substance and reality. An emasculated story of the Civil War, with a grand old gal as central figure - better in conception than execution. For months she tricked the Yankees by securing mules and horses on false warrants, and reselling them to other Yankees. But eventually, her deeds gave her away and she suffered the ultimate penalty. The balance of the story follows her grandson, aged fifteen, and his Negro playmate, their revenge and a second revenge when the boy's father is killed. Somehow the story doesn't quite come off. But at that, it is the first casily understood story Faulkner has written for some time, and that - plus his name - may win him new readers. (Kirkus Reviews)