'The Hamlet' Is Published

The Hamlet is the first of the "Snopes" trilogy, completed by The Town (1957), and The Mansion (1959). The novel follows the exploits of the Snopes family, beginning with Ab Snopes, who is introduced more fully in Faulkner's The Unvanquished.

Most of the book centers around Frenchman's Bend, into which the heirs of Ab and his family have migrated from parts unknown. In the beginning of the book Ab, his wife, daughter, and son Flem settle down as tenant farmers beholden to the powerful Varner family.

As the book progresses, the Snopes move from being poor outcasts to a very controversial, if not dangerous, element in the life of the town. In contrast, V.K. Ratliff stands as the moral hero of the novel. Faulkner uses the eccentricities of the Snopes to great comic effect, most notably in his description of Ike Snopes and his carnal inclinations towards livestock.

He first began The Hamlet with another short story, "Barn Burning" (Harper's, June 1 939), intending it to be a kind of prologue, but changed his mind and instead incorporated elements from the story into other parts of the novel. He worked steadily on The Hamlet until its completion in early December 1939 and returned galleys to Random House on February 5, 1940. The book was published by Random House on April 1, 1940. Although the editors did not make the kind of revisions they had made in other works by Faulkner, the text was marred by many typographical and compositorial errors.