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Flags in the Dust: The complete text of Faulkner's third novel, which appeared in a cut version as Sartoris

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  623 ratings  ·  54 reviews
The complete text, published for the first time in 1973, of Faulkner’s third novel, written when he was twenty-nine, which appeared, with his reluctant consent, in a much cut version in 1929 as Sartoris.
ebook, 448 pages
Published May 18th 2011 by Vintage (first published 1973)
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Flags in the Dust: William Faulkner's Creation of Yoknapatawpha County

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Flags in the Dust, First Ed., Random House, New York, New York (1973)

Flags in the Dust was selected as a group read by members of On the Southern Literary Trail for the month of December, 2014. Special thanks to Trail Member Kirk Smith who nominated this work.

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William Faulkner at the University of Virginia, 1957

"No man is himself, he is the sum of his past.”
Faulkner in the University, University of Virginia Press, 199
I continue on my quest to read all of William Faulkner's works. Along the way I learned that the book titled Sartoris was really a publishers' creation and that Flags in the Dust is as close as possible to the book that Faulkner originally submitted to that publisher in 1927. I am very glad for my education in all things Faulkner (tip of proverbial hat to Mike Sullivan of On the Southern Literary Trail).

Perhaps the most amazing thing to me as I read this novel was the extent to which the vision
Diane Barnes
I can't really do justice on a review of this book, it's been done better elsewhere. But I will say, even with the suggestions from others (including Faulkner himself) that this is a good one to start with, I really enjoyed reading of the inception of a lot of characters that I have become familiar with in other novels. Especially Snopes and family. I think I'm going to hunt down a family tree of Faulkner characters, print it out and enlarge it, and hang it on my wall.
This was an excellent book,
This novel has it all. Old men who fought in the Civil War. Young men shaken by World War I, particularly flyers who were a new breed of soldier. Old women ruminating on the nature of Southern masculinity and how it relates to the fallen South. How social class is articulated during changing race relations and the transition from agrarian to urban communities. The burden of the past, particularly in one’s family. There are so many passages seared into my mind, particularly Bayard’s recounting of ...more
Ned Mozier
I finished Faulkner’s “Flags in the Dust” this (warm January) morning, in a quiet house. This review will hopefully be narrowly focused, since it was personally meaningful to me, and I write these reviews believing, as I do, that proper reading will illume something of myself (to myself, or to my progeny in future generations). Perhaps a reason this book resonated is that it is haunted with the past and fearful of the future, yet rendered so beautifully. I will file this in Goodreads which may o ...more
The last seven days were spent in a haze while, on one hand, I was sitting in Los Angeles; on the other, I was transported to a brand new world created out of whole cloth by a writer who receives no end of lip service, but who is no read nowhere near as much as he deserves to be. I think back to how William Faulkner's Flags in the Dust was viewed by a score of publishers as too diffuse to be interesting to the American reading public. One publisher, Harrison Smith of Harcourt, Brace, liked it. I ...more
My father has always told me that Flags in the Dust (or Sartoris) is the best introduction to Faulkner, and this new reader agrees. (I have read The Unvanquished- another good intro he recommended- but it wasn't nearly this good). I grew up in Faulkner's hometown playing in my grandparent's yard across the street from his home. Faulkner is a local legend, and without having read anything by him, I grew up knowing the names and general personality traits of his recurring characters/ families of h ...more
Rachael Quinn
I have started this review a number of times today an had to quit each time so I make no guarantee on the quality. Heads up.

I am slowly working my way through Faulkner who I fell in love with after reading As I Lay dying in my American Modern Lit class as an undergrad. After finishing the book, the professor asked what we thought of it. I listened calmly as everyone bashed it. Finally, I raised my hand and said I loved it. When he asked why I explained that it was darkly hilarious. That's just k
This somnolent novel is one of Faulkner's earlier works. It follows the final decline of the Sartoris family in the two years after WWI. The story centers around Miss Jenny, the long-widowed matriarch of the family, her much younger friend Narcissa Benbow, her elderly nephew Bayard, and his grandson Bayard. While the older two have learned to live comfortably with the way the Civil War and its aftermath haunts them, the younger Bayard is still struggling with his experiences in World War I.
Samuel Breed
Although not his first novel, 1927’s Flags in the Dust is the best starting place if you really want to read Faulkner. His third novel to be published, at 30 he believed it to be his masterpiece. Unfortunately, Flags was rejected by his publisher who demanded that the nearly 500-page manuscript be significantly edited. Faulkner slaved over his behemoth for months and eventually left the task of pairing it down to his agent, Ben Wasson. The edited version, redubbed Sartoris , was published in 1 ...more
Isadora Wagner
Tip to the wise: read this book first if you are planning to read Faulkner's Snopes trilogy or want a good overview of the Sartoris family, Benbows, and town of Jefferson. Flags in the Dust was the first of Faulkner's books set in Yoknapatawapha County, and it introduces many of the characters that appear in later works. This may be my favorite Faulkner book because it deals with men who are haunted after war, particularly young Bayard Sartoris, whose twin brother, John Sartoris, died in WWI. Re ...more
Flags in the Dust by William Faulkner

This restored version is from the original manuscript and writings of Faulkner, and is the original version of the much truncated novel Sartoris that was published in 1929. That publisher drastically cut Faulkner's book, saying it was six stories and was too complicated. What an outrage.

Every Faulkner I read simply blows me away with the lyrical quality of his prose. His insight into the workings of the Southern soul is as accurate as an arrow hitting it's bu
"For a time the earth held him in a smoldering hiatus that might have been called contentment." But only for a time, as no man called Sartoris is ever truly content until he's dead.

Is there a family more depressing than the clan of Sartoris? Even Faulkner's other unbelievably depressing families, even the Compsons, can't match the misery that Old Bayard and Young Bayard drag around behind them their entire lives. One can't even be led to feel sorrow when Young Bayard finally dies. He's better of
This book is outrageously good. In fact, this just might be my new favorite book of Faulkner's. He really is on top form here.
The only reason I can gather why his editors did not like the manuscript in its original form (which is Flags in the Dust) is because the intertwining stories do diverge and fold back upon each other in a meandering fashion. So initially what did we end up with? -- Sartoris, which I have not read and do not intend to as it is all here anyway. I personally love the fragme
Adrian Astur Alvarez
This is Faulkner's third novel. He took the wide social spectrum of his first novel (Soldiers' Pay) and the flights of language from his second (Mosquitos) and mashed them together under the influence of Sherwood "Winesburg, OH" Anderson's advice to write about Mississippi. The result is a strange, artful, and highly overwritten hot mess. There isn't much plot. There is barely a sense of character transformation. There is so much artful description that it becomes almost annoying (however beauti ...more
Wm Faulkner???


The characters are [as throughout his books] all people from his own life. With this book [unlike two previous witty novels] he discovered that these people could cast shadows, etc. And here he begins the endless cycle based on the postage stamp size place he knew.

I had to reread the entire first block of text [not the first chapter, but the first block of text continuing on until there's extra leading and a new block begins], in order get his scale and proportion and th
Bill Shackleford
Returning to Faulkner is a pleasure. In this case it was a return to the Sartoris males whom I first encountered in the mid-1960s. To prepare for this adventure, I first read "The Unvanquished", which through discrete stories takes the reader on a tour of the Satoris family from late in the Civil War period to the early reconstruction.

"Flags in the Dust" takes us to the period of roughly 1917-1920 in parts of Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, most particularly the Sartoris plantation and the ci
Kirk Smith
Really a wonderful book. Those Sartoris fellows were more than a little entertaining. This was the first time I've noticed so much humor in one of Faulkner's novels. Great background information that carries over to his other works. This one also provides a little insight into reasons that the Snopes family was not held in the highest regard. A pleasure from cover to cover!
“The music went on in the dusk; the dust was peopled with ghosts of glamorous and old disastrous things. And if they were just glamorous enough, there would be a Sartoris in them, and they were sure to be disastrous. Pawns. But the Player and the game He plays—who knows?” I thought this a fitting and illustrative quote, not only of the level of Faulkner’s command of amazing prose and his writing, but of the telling nature of the Sartoris clan, who are explored throughout his writings.

I think on
one of faulkner's better works but still has a lot of issues with it. touches on many of his familiar themes (the old and the young, black and white relations, WWI, the industrialization of rural america, etc) but the structure and plot is kind of a mess, and the whole thing feels like a bunch of random scenes loosely stitched together. it has some of faulkner's best naturalistic prose so they are rather pretty scenes, but its frustrating to see potentially interesting plot developments come up ...more
Christopher Sutch
With this novel, originally published in an extremely bowdlerized version as _Sartoris_, Faulkner finally found his narrative voice. It's a tremendous qualitative leap over his first two novels. The publisher of those first two novels rejected this one on the grounds that there was "no plot and no character development," which reveals how different and complex the novel was for its time, as both elements are quite clear to a reader 80 years later. Faulkner is still obsessed with the effect of WW ...more
faulkner's 3rd novel.

as a story: good, not great. gives excellent backstory on the sartoris family, legends looming large in yoknapatawpha.

a few moments of faulkner's characteristic style: the disjointed thoughts, the lapses in linear time. his first novel, soldier's pay, had it not at all, and his second, mosquitoes, had it a bit more than this one does. however, it's clear faulkner is developing it, experimenting with it. there are quite a few moments where faulkner as narrator describes a p
This book (Faulkner's third novel I believe) sums up the decline of a southern aristocratic family amid the years of the first world war. Aside from the racial references (now considered politically incorrect), this could be fairly relevant even today. An entertaining read, especially if your taste leans toward the southern gothic. I very much enjoyed young Bayard's determination to drive his auto as fast as possible at all times and Faulkner's somewhat humorous treatment of this habit and the r ...more
William Faulkner considered "Flags in the Dust" the novel that would make his name as a writer, the book in which he figured it all out. Though published in 1929 in a truncated version as "Sartoris," "Flags" never appeared in the form in which Faulkner intended during his lifetime. Even the "complete text," published under its original title in 1973, was a little bit of a guessing game as to which of the manuscripts was the correct one.

"Flags in the Dust" (3.5 stars) mostly justifies Faulkner's
Sherry Chandler
I first read this full-length version of Sartoris back in 1974 when it was first issued. I thought it was a disappointing novel then and I think it's a disappointing novel now. The big deal is that this, his third, is the novel in which Faulkner discovered his subject matter and learned to be Faulkner. It introduces his notion of white-male impotence and incestuous desire. It does not address the themes of race and the perniciousness of slavery, the way his later novels do. In fact, from this no ...more
Flags In The Dust is really great. Again, only 4 stars though as it can't be ranked alongside Absalom, Absalom! or The Sound & The Fury.

I find it quite amazing that Faulkner could have produced FITD right after Mosquitoes (which I am not particularly enjoying). There's the earlier Father Abraham which shows a small part of the larger framework that would become Yoknapatawpha County, but FITD is monumental by comparison, with bits and pieces from so many later novels and scenes. I'm fascinate
William January
A sprawling novel that introduces Yoknapatawpha and several of its important families (mostly) through the life of 'young' Bayard Satoris, a pilot returning from WWI. Like "Soldiers Pay" the novel is somewhat over-written, being only his third novel, but it nonetheless conveys the decaying nostalgia for a chivalric Southern mythology.
Great to finally read this key novel in Faulkner's progress as a writer. It begins as a 4-star, interesting but fairly conventional, read and becomes increasingly "Faulknerian" as it progresses, often echoing the majesty of his great works, including, natch, The Sound and the Fury, which he'd begun to work on as the exhaustive process of finding a publisher for this rambled on. I love Wikipedia's distillation of the situation, true or not, in which Faulkner became so disgusted with trying to get ...more
And so it begins, in novel form, at least. In addition to setting up Jefferson, the Sartoris clan, Yokna, the past being not dead and more, Faulkner nails both war "the stupid mischancing of human affairs" and "the meaning of peace" (pps 676-681 in Library of America edition. And then there's this little bit of wisdom, acknowledged (in private) by most men, if truth be told (and no one tells truths like w.f.) as they contemplate death: "I have made too little effort to change my fellow man's act ...more
Don Incognito
Flags in the Dust is a very interesting and engrossing read, and not very difficult like one of Faulkner's stream-of-consciousness novels. It is set in 1920 or perhaps 1925, with World War I being a recent memory to the characters. It is the first Faulkner novel I read; that was probably a mistake. The first book in the chronology of Faulkner's Sartoris family is The Unvanquished, which is set during and shortly after the Civil War; you might want to read that first (although if you don't, Flags ...more
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William Cuthbert Faulkner was a Nobel Prize-winning American novelist and short story writer. One of the most influential writers of the twentieth century, his reputation is based mostly on his novels, novellas, and short stories. He was also a published poet and an occasional screenwriter.
The majority of his works are based in his native state of Mississippi. Though his work was published as earl
More about William Faulkner...
Bľabot a bes As I Lay Dying Light in August Absalom, Absalom! A Rose for Emily

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