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If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem

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Wikipedia article

:'For the biblical quote, see Psalm 137'.

'If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem' is a novel by the American author William Faulkner published in 1939. The novel was originally published under the title 'The Wild Palms', which is the title of one of the two interwoven stories. This title was chosen by the publishers, Random House, over the objections of Faulkner's choice of a title. Subsequent editions have since been printed under the title 'If I Forget Thee Jerusalem' (1990, following the "corrected text" and format of Noel Polk), and since 2003 it is now usually referred to by both names, with the newer title following the historically first published title and in brackets, to avoid confusion: 'The Wild Palms [If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem]'.

'Wild Palms/Old Man' is a blend of two stories, a love story and a river story, entitled "Wild Palms" and "Old Man", respectively. Both stories tell us of a distinct relationship between a man and a woman. The novel starts with the first chapter, "Wild Palms", and continues, alternating the two stories chapter by chapter, until ending with the final chapter, "Old Man".

In an interesting example of literary tribute, Jorge Luis Borges translated the complete novel into Spanish as 'Las palmeras salvajes' (1940), a work that influenced a good number of leading Latin American novelists.

'The Wild Palms' is quoted in Jean-Luc Godard's 1959 film, 'Breathless' (" bout de souffle"), when Patricia claims to prefer to take "grief rather than nothing"; the same quote is cited in the 1986 John Hughes comedy 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off', when Principal Rooney "consoles" Sloan while waiting in front of the school.


Each story is five chapters long and they offer a significant interplay between narrative plots. The Wild Palms tells the story of Henry and Charlotte, who meet, fall in forbidden love, travel the country together for work, and, ultimately, experience tragedy when the abortion Henry performs on Charlotte kills her. Old Man is the story of a convict who, while being forced to help victims of a flood, rescues a pregnant woman. They are swept away downstream by the flooding Mississippi, and she gives birth to a baby. He eventually gets both himself and the woman to safety and then turns himself in, returning to prison.



Category:1939 novels

Category:Novels by William Faulkner

Category:Random House books

es:Las palmeras salvajes

fr:Les Palmiers sauvages


ru: ()

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