The "Chronology" included in the appendices of the Vintage International paperback edition of Absalom, Absalom! is the last of three different chronologies. The earliest is the two-page manuscript version that Faulkner prepared in the summer of 1936 in response to his publisher's concerns about the complexity of the novel. The next is the Chronology that Random House published on pages 380-381 of the first edition (1936), and then subsequently reprinted in the Modern Library edition (1951); this revises the handwritten version in a number of ways. Both Faulkner's manuscript and the published chronology contained several obvious errors, most notably dating the novel's present in September and December, 1910. For this reason, when Noel Polk prepared his "Corrected Text" of Absalom in 1986 for the Library of America, he also "corrected" the Chronology "in several instances to agree with the dates and facts of the novel." After that date the various editions published by Random House and its subsidiary, Vintage International, all adopt Polk's revisions.
The table below allows you to see the differences between these three chronologies, and to compare them with the dates Digital Yoknapatawpha uses for the same set of events. The Ms column is Faulkner's manuscript version. RH: the first edition version (New York: Random House, 1936). VI: the Vintage International version (New York, 1990). And DY lists our dates, which in the case of these events agrees with Polk's revisions. When there is a substantive difference in the way a version describes the event, that is also noted.
|Thomas Sutpen born in West Virginia mountains. Poor whites of Scottish-English stock. Large family.||1807||1807||1807||1807|
|Sutpen family moved down into Tidewater Virginia. Sutpen ten years old.||1817||1817||1817||1817|
|Ellen Coldfield born in Tennessee.
[Ms: Ellen Coldfield born. Miss. Jefferson.]
|Sutpen ran away from home. Fourteen years old.||1820||1820||1820||1820|
|Sutpen married first wife in Haiti.||1827||1827||1827|
|Goodhue Coldfield moved to Yoknapatawpha County (Jefferson) Mississippi: mother, sister, wife and daughter Ellen.||1828||1828||1828|
|Charles Bon born, Haiti.||1829||1831||1831|
|Sutpen learns his wife has negro blood, repudiates her and child. [Ms: repudiated her.]||1831||1831||1831||1831|
|[Ms: cancelled Clytie born]|||
|Sutpen appears in Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, takes up land, builds his house.
[Ms: Appeared in Miss, begins house.]
|Clytemnestra (Clytie) born to slave woman.
[Ms: Clytie born.]
|Sutpen married Ellen Coldfield.
[Ms: Married Ellen Coldfield, Ellen 18, Supten 31]
|Henry Sutpen born, Sutpen's Hundred.||1839||1839||1839||1839|
|Judith Sutpen born.||1841||1841||1841||1841|
|Rosa Coldfield born.||1845||1845||1845||1845|
|Wash Jones moves into abandoned fishing camp on Sutpen's plantation, with his daughter.*
[Ms: Wash Jones moves into fishing camp.]
|Milly Jones born to Wash Jones' daughter.
[Ms: Milly Jones born.]
|Henry Sutpen and Charles Bon meet at University of Mississippi. Judith and Charles meet that Xmas. Charles Etienne St. Valery Bon born, New Orleans.||1859||1859||1859||1859|
|Xmas, Sutpen forbids marriage between Judith and Bon. Henry repudiates his birthright, departs with Bon.
[Ms: Sutpen forbids marriage. Henry repudiates him.]
|Sutpen, Henry, and Bon depart for war.||1861||1861||1861|
|Ellen Coldfield dies.||1862||1862||1863||1863|
|Goodhue Coldfield dies.
[Ms: Goodhue Coldfield dies in attic.]
|Henry kills Bon at gates.
[Ms: Henry finds Charles is negro, kills him.]
|Rosa Coldfield moves out to Sutpen's Hundred.||1865||1865||1865||1865|
|Sutpen becomes engaged to Rosa Coldfield, insults her. She returns to Jefferson.||1866||1866||1866||1866|
|Sutpen takes up with Milly Jones.
[Ms: Sutpen takes up Milly Jones. Milly 14, Sutpen 59]
|Milly's child is born. Wash Jones kills Sutpen.||1869||1869||1869||1869|
|[Ms: Judith sold store. C E Bon 11]||1870|
|Charles E. St. V. Bon appears at Sutpen's Hundred.||1870||1870||1870|
|Clytie fetches Charles E. St. V. Bon to Sutpen's Hundred to live.||1871||1871||1871||1871|
|Charles E. St. V. Bon returns with negro wife.||1881||1881||1881||1881|
|Jim Bond born.||1882||1882||1882||1882|
|Judith and Charles E. St. V. Bon die of yellow fever.
[Ms: Judith & Chas. St E Bon died]
[RH: Judith and Charles E. St. V. Bon die of smallpox.]
| [Ms: Rosa & Quentin find Henry in old house, Clytie
sets fire to it, Rosa dies.]
|September Rosa Coldfield and Quentin find Henry Sutpen hidden in the house.||1910||1909||1909|
|December Rosa Coldfield goes out to fetch Henry to town, Clytie sets fire to the house.||1910||1909||1909|
*Both Faulkner's and Polk's chronologies say Wash Jones moved into Sutpen's fishing camp before Wash's granddaughter was born, but the text says that he moved with the young girl: Sutpen gives Wash "permission" to live there "with the year-old grandchild" (149). So this event and the following one should be transposed.
** Our dating of Wash Jones moving into "the abandoned fishing camp" is based on that same passage on page 149: Sutpen "had given [Jones] permission fourteen years ago to squat in the abandoned fishing camp." These "fourteen years" are being dated either from Sutpen's return from the Civil War or his opening of the store, i.e. in either 1866 or 1867. 1866 minus 14 equals 1852, not 1850, as both Faulkner's and Polk's chronologies have it.
*** Calculating from that passage on page 149 would also mean that Milly Jones (the "year-old grandchild") was born in 1851 or at the latest 1852. Two lines earlier, she is referred to as "a fifteen-year-old country girl" in 1867 (149). Being born in 1851 would make Milly 18 when she gives birth to Sutpen's daughter. When she is about to deliver, however, Wash calls her "a fifteen-year-old gal" (228), and the younger age seems more appropriate in view of the way Milly is described at this time. The most likely explanation for these discrepancies is that Faulkner simply forgot the detail that Milly was a year old when Wash moved into the camp and neglected to add a couple years to her age between the time when Sutpen begins courting her and the time when she gives birth.