INTO the hands of a public already steeped in Civil War fiction comes a truly worthy picture of the South during and immediately after the war. The Unvanquished presents the story of a family wrapped up in the events and consequences of every turn of the struggle, embodying the very essence of the Southern viewpoint. But there are no pictures of the battles and bloodshed, of the marches of destruction made by the Northern armies. These have already been told all too often. Instead, William Faulkner gives the psychological reactions these events had on the home life of a typical Southern family.
The bulk of the story centers about the character of Granny Sartoris. She embodies the spirit of "The Unvanquished" older generation. Although a woman, she is responsible for the wellbeing of her community by some clever if shady dealings with Yankee officers. She manages to keep her own plantation and those of her neighbors well stocked with supplies, and the enemy is actually supporting them.
Her grandson, Bayard, and his playmate, a negro boy, gradually progress from childhood into manhood, always under her influence and as-similating her valiant spirit and indomitable will. Ringo, the negro, is recognized almost on a level with Bayard, and in many ways he appears to be his superior. It is he on whom Granny Sarforis leans for support in the crucial moments. He is always in her confidence in her plots, while Bayard seems to act on his orders without knowing why.
The story is told in the person of Bayard. As the scene opens, he is a boy of twelve, and the style is juvenile. As the novel progresses, the style becomes more mature, and the final result is the rich and colorful prose characteristic of Faulkner's previous works. This book should take its place as a worthy successor to Absalom, Absalom!