The Reivers

Last updated
The Reivers
Reivers.jpg
First edition
Author William Faulkner
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Publisher Random House
Publication date
June 4, 1962 [1]
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Preceded by The Mansion (1959) 

The Reivers: A Reminiscence, published in 1962, is the last novel by the American author William Faulkner. The bestselling novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1963. Faulkner previously won this award for his book A Fable , making him one of only four authors to be awarded it more than once. Unlike many of his earlier works, it is a straightforward narration and eschews the complicated literary techniques of his more well known works. It is a picaresque novel, and as such may seem uncharacteristically lighthearted given its subject matter. For these reasons, The Reivers is often ignored by Faulkner scholars or dismissed as a lesser work. He previously had referred to writing a "Golden Book of Yoknapatawpha County" with which he would finish his literary career. It is likely that The Reivers was meant to be this "Golden Book". The Reivers was adapted into a film of the same name directed by Mark Rydell and starring Steve McQueen as Boon Hogganbeck.

Contents

Plot

In the early 20th century, an 11-year-old boy named Lucius Priest (a distant cousin of the McCaslin/Edmonds family Faulkner wrote about in Go Down, Moses ) somewhat unwittingly gets embroiled in a plot to go to Memphis with dimwitted family friend and manservant Boon Hogganbeck. Boon steals (reives, [2] thereby becoming a reiver) Lucius' grandfather's car, one of the first cars in Yoknapatawpha County. They discover that Ned McCaslin, a black man who works with Boon at Lucius' grandfather's stables, has stowed away with them (Ned is also a blood cousin of the Priests).

When they reach Memphis, Boon and Lucius stay in a boarding-house (brothel). Miss Reba, the madam, and Miss Corrie, Boon's favorite girl, are appalled to see that Boon has brought a child. In fact, Corrie's nephew Otis, an ill-mannered and off-putting boy about Lucius' age, is already staying there. In the evening, Otis reveals that Corrie (whose real name is Everbe Corinthia) used to prostitute herself in their old town, and he would charge men to watch her through a peephole. Outraged at his conduct, Lucius fights Otis, who cuts his hand with a pocketknife. Boon breaks up the fight but Everbe is so moved by Lucius' chivalry that she decides to stop whoring. Later, Ned returns to the boarding-house and reveals he traded the car for a supposedly lame racehorse.

Corrie, Reba, Ned, Boon and Lucius hatch a scheme to smuggle the horse by rail to a nearby town, Parsham, to race a horse it has lost to twice already. Ned figures that everyone in town will bet against the horse and he can win enough money to buy back the car; he claims to have a secret ability to make the horse run. Corrie uses another client who works for the railroad, Sam, to get them and the horse on a night train. In town, Ned takes Lucius to stay with a black family while they practice for the horse race. Unfortunately, the local lawman named Butch finds them out and attempts to extort sexual favors from Corrie to look the other way. Reba is able to send him away by claiming she will reveal to the town that he intentionally ordered two prostitutes, angering his constituency.

On the day of the race, Lucius rides the horse (named Coppermine but called Lightning by Ned) and loses the first of three heats as planned. Just as the second heat begins, Butch returns to break up the horserace and arrest Boon for stealing the horse. Lucius and one of Ned's kinsman are able to get the horse to safety; Corrie is supposedly able to clear the whole ordeal up by having sex with Butch and the race takes place as scheduled the next day. Lucius and Lightning win much to everyone's surprise, but are greeted at the track by Boss Priest, Lucius' grandfather.

That night, Ned reveals his scheme: his cousin Bobo accrued a huge gambling debt to a white man and agreed to steal a horse to make up for it. Ned recognizes some kind of spirit in the horse that he once saw before in a lame mule he was able to make race. Ned decides to try to bet the horse against the car, but Boss Priest's arrival ruins his scheme. Now himself embroiled in the horse theft and confusion, Boss Priest is forced to enter another race: if they win, he pays $500 to legally take the horse but reveal Ned's secret (he enticed the horse with sardines); if they lose he pays $500 but does not have to take the horse. Ned intentionally throws the race, knowing the horse is worthless. Boss pays the penalty and they get the car back.

Back home, Boss Priest saves Lucius from receiving a beating from his father, knowing that the ordeal he went through at his age was punishment enough. Boon and Corrie eventually marry and name their son Lucius Priest Hogganbeck.

Boon Hogganbeck

Boon is also a major character in Go Down, Moses, where he appears as a McCaslin/Priest family retainer of limited education and interests. In The Reivers he shows the unexpected qualities of a car lover and a romantic hero; his marriage ties up a major "loose end" in the Faulkner canon.

Ned McCaslin

Ned's character resembles that of his distant relative Lucas Beauchamp in many ways. Like Lucas, he at least pretends to work for his white cousins while constantly outwitting them in various ways. The Priests invariably find it in their hearts to forgive him.

Related Research Articles

William Faulkner American writer (1897–1962)

William Cuthbert Faulkner was an American writer known for his novels and short stories set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, based on Lafayette County, Mississippi, where Faulkner spent most of his life. A Nobel Prize laureate, Faulkner is one of the most celebrated writers of American literature and is widely considered the greatest writer of Southern literature.

<i>Light in August</i> 1932 novel by William Faulkner

Light in August is a 1932 novel by the Southern American author William Faulkner. It belongs to the Southern gothic and modernist literary genres.

<i>Absalom, Absalom!</i> 1936 novel by William Faulkner

Absalom, Absalom! is a novel by the American author William Faulkner, first published in 1936. Taking place before, during, and after the American Civil War, it is a story about three families of the American South, with a focus on the life of Thomas Sutpen.

<i>The Sound and the Fury</i> 1929 novel by William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury is a novel by the American author William Faulkner. It employs several narrative styles, including stream of consciousness. Published in 1929, The Sound and the Fury was Faulkner's fourth novel, and was not immediately successful. In 1931, however, when Faulkner's sixth novel, Sanctuary, was published—a sensationalist story, which Faulkner later said was written only for money—The Sound and the Fury also became commercially successful, and Faulkner began to receive critical attention.

Yoknapatawpha County Fictional Mississippi county created by William Faulkner

Yoknapatawpha County is a fictional Mississippi county created by the American author William Faulkner, largely based upon and inspired by Lafayette County, Mississippi, and its county seat of Oxford. Faulkner often referred to Yoknapatawpha County as "my apocryphal county".

Louis Grenier is a fictional character in William Faulkner's novels and stories.

<i>Sartoris</i>

Sartoris is a novel, first published in 1929, by the American author William Faulkner. It portrays the decay of the Mississippi aristocracy following the social upheaval of the American Civil War. The 1929 edition is an abridged version of Faulkner's original work. The full text was published in 1973 as Flags in the Dust. Faulkner's great-grandfather William Clark Falkner, himself a colonel in the American Civil War, served as the model for Colonel John Sartoris. Faulkner also fashioned other characters in the book on local people from his hometown Oxford. His friend Ben Wasson was the model for Horace Benbow, while Faulkner's brother Murry served as the antetype for young Bayard Sartoris.

<i>As I Lay Dying</i> Novel by William Faulkner

As I Lay Dying is a 1930 Southern Gothic novel by American author William Faulkner. Faulkner's fifth novel, it is consistently ranked among the best novels of 20th-century literature. The title derives from Book XI of Homer's Odyssey, wherein Agamemnon tells Odysseus, "As I lay dying, the woman with the dog's eyes would not close my eyes as I descended into Hades."

<i>Sanctuary</i> (Faulkner novel)

Sanctuary is a 1931 novel by American author William Faulkner about the rape and abduction of an upper-class Mississippi college girl, Temple Drake, during the Prohibition era. The novel was Faulkner's commercial and critical breakthrough and established his literary reputation, but was controversial given its themes. It is said Faulkner claimed it was a "potboiler", written purely for profit, but this has been debated by scholars and Faulkner's own friends.

<i>Go Down, Moses</i> (book) Short story series by William Faulkner

Go Down, Moses is a 1942 collection of seven related pieces of short fiction by American author William Faulkner, sometimes considered a novel. The most prominent character and unifying voice is that of Isaac McCaslin, "Uncle Ike", who will live to be an old man; "uncle to half a county and father to no one". Though originally published as a short story collection, Faulkner considered the book to be a novel in the same way The Unvanquished is considered a novel. Because of this, most editions no longer print "and other stories" in the title.

<i>The Hamlet</i> William Faulkners first part of the Snopes trilogy

The Hamlet is a novel by the American author William Faulkner, published in 1940, about the fictional Snopes family of Mississippi. Originally a standalone novel, it was later followed by The Town (1957), and The Mansion (1959), forming the "Snopes trilogy."

<i>The Mansion</i> (novel) 1959 novel by William Faulkner

The Mansion is a novel by the American author William Faulkner, published in 1959. It is the last in a trilogy of books about the fictional Snopes family of Mississippi, following The Hamlet and The Town.

<i>Flags in the Dust</i>

Flags in the Dust is a novel by the American author William Faulkner, completed in 1927. His publisher heavily edited the manuscript with Faulkner's reluctant consent, removing about 40,000 words in the process. That version was published as Sartoris in 1929. Faulkner's original manuscript of Flags in the Dust was published in 1973, and Sartoris was subsequently taken out of print.

<i>Moonrunners</i> 1975 film by Gy Waldron

Moonrunners is a 1975 action comedy film starring James Mitchum, about a Southern family who runs bootleg liquor. It was reworked four years later into the popular long-running television series The Dukes of Hazzard, and the two productions share some similarities. Mitchum had co-starred with his father, Robert Mitchum, in the similar drive-in favorite Thunder Road 18 years earlier, which also focused upon moonshine-running bootleggers using fast cars to elude federal agents. Moonrunners, a B movie, was filmed in 1973 and awaited release for over a year. Its soundtrack reflects the outlaw music boom of the 1970s during which the film was released.

<i>The Reivers</i> (film) 1969 film by Mark Rydell

The Reivers is a 1969 Technicolor film in Panavision starring Steve McQueen and directed by Mark Rydell based on the 1962 William Faulkner novel The Reivers, a Reminiscence. The supporting cast includes Sharon Farrell, Rupert Crosse, Mitch Vogel, and Burgess Meredith as the narrator.

<i>The Town</i> (Faulkner novel)

The Town is a novel by the American author William Faulkner, published in 1957, about the fictional Snopes family of Mississippi. It is the second of the "Snopes" trilogy, following The Hamlet (1940) and completed by The Mansion (1959).

<i>The Story of Temple Drake</i> 1933 film by Stephen Roberts

The Story of Temple Drake is a 1933 American pre-Code drama film directed by Stephen Roberts and starring Miriam Hopkins and Jack La Rue. It tells the story of Temple Drake, a reckless woman in the American South who falls into the hands of a brutal gangster and rapist. It was adapted from the highly controversial 1931 novel Sanctuary by William Faulkner. Though some of the more salacious elements of the source novel were not included, the film was still considered so indecent that it helped give rise to the strict enforcement of the Hays Code.

<i>Sanctuary</i> (1961 film) 1961 film by Tony Richardson

Sanctuary is a 1961 drama film directed by Tony Richardson. The film, based on the William Faulkner novels Sanctuary (1931) and Requiem for a Nun (1961), is about the black maid of a white woman who kills the latter's newborn in order to give her employer a way out of a predicament, and then faces the death penalty.

Gavin Stevens is a lawyer and the county attorney in Jefferson in Faulkner’s fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. He was educated at Harvard and Heidelberg universities.

References

  1. Prescott, Orville (June 4, 1962). "Books of The Times". The New York Times : 27. ...in his newest novel, 'The Reivers,' which is published today.
  2. "Definition of REIVES". www.merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 30 December 2017.


Preceded by Novels set in
Yoknapatawpha County
Succeeded by
none
Awards
Preceded by Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
1963
Succeeded by
no award given (1964)
The Keepers of the House
by Shirley Ann Grau (1965)