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Flags in the Dust

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  999 ratings  ·  97 reviews
The complete text of Faulkner’s third novel, published for the first time in 1973, appeared with his reluctant consent in a much cut version in 1929 as Sartoris.
Paperback, 408 pages
Published January 17th 2012 by Vintage (first published 1929)
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Richard It's not a matter of what's missing, i.e. a few words or a paragraph here or there. The manuscript Faulkner originally submitted for publication was…moreIt's not a matter of what's missing, i.e. a few words or a paragraph here or there. The manuscript Faulkner originally submitted for publication was heavily cut by the publisher and produced as Sartoris. But Faulkner had kept his original manuscript and also produced three different drafts composed at various times, in typescript. Flags in the Dust is based on the typescript texts.(less)

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Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Flags in the Dust: William Faulkner's Creation of Yoknapatawpha County

 photo FlagsintheDust_zpscf1e048c.jpg
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.

 photo FaulknerUVA_zpsafe67ed1.jpg
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,
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
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I'm auditing a Faulkner class this semester to help me read and understand some of his catalog since I've always failed when I've tried on my own. Flags in the Dust, published in reduced form as Sartoris in 1929, lays the groundwork for the setting of several more novels. I say that allegedly because I haven't read them yet. This one is set immediately after World War I with characters dealing with the aftermath, and of course the impact on already tense race relations. Faulkner focuses on a ...more
Diane Barnes
Oct 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
Dec 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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. ...more
Jun 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mississippians
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 ...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
J.M. Hushour
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the happily-restored full text of Faulky's "Sartoris". Never having read the truncated version, it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to cut a lick of this fine, quiet novel. "Flags" was written just prior to "Sound" but you can hardly scent the lyrical, half-poetry that would come to dominate Faulky's style. That's one of the striking things about his work: he combines a kind of gross, unapologetic, grotesque folkiness with sprawling imagery and beauty. "Flags" follows, weaving in and out ...more
May 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
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.
Isadora Wagner
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic, southern, war, trauma
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. ...more
“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
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 ...more
Kirk Smith
Apr 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Hunter Tidwell
The prose here is like poetry, but this is Faulkner's first stab at the style he would become famous for, and the juvenility of the work shows clearly in the structure of the novel: loose ends are left untied and characters disappear without resolution.
Yet another from somewhere during the 90s. On the whole, I like Faulkner, but never consider myself a big fan.
J. Alfred
To say that any one of Faulkner's books is the saddest is kind of an insane task. All of them are quite sad. But this one, the first of the Yoknapatawpha novels, is to my mind the saddest of them all.
Anyway it's great and you should read it.
Robert Lukins
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really quite incredible and the beginnings of a binge into my unread Faulkners. Yoknapatawpha starts here; and what a world it is.
tortoise dreams
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Difficult to get into, the reading gradually became easier & in the end was worth the effort. This is the book in which Faulkner first introduced his mythical Yoknapatawpha County (think Macondo, only in the American Deep South with less magic & more racism). Faulkner is not one of those authors who explores universal truths about the commonality of the human experience. His subject is the post-bellum American South, pure & simple. He shows the aftermath & fall of a poisoned ...more
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Faulknerthon Kick-Off - Wherein I shall read all 14 of the celebrated Jefferson novels.

Book I: Flags in the Dust (1929)

While not the eviscerating formal experiment of its more famous future sister novels immediately proceeding this one, written as such in a more or less traditional third person narration and unfolding (generally) chronologically, this is still an intriguingly puzzling novel, over-strewn with dense poetic verbosity. In fact, while it may lack the ground-breaking deconstruction of
Katherine Viti
This book arises from early in William Faulkner's career, and it transmits much of problematic racist and sexist aspects of the Old South without commentary. However, the language is beautiful and the story is meandering and pleasant.
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Adrian 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 ...more
Mar 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-fiction
Thanks to the Supreme Pedant of Faulkner Studies, Noel Polk, we have yet another of Faulkner's worse novels expanded a couple hundred pages. Why? Because, "It's Faulkner." Because it's Faulkner, what was a perfectly decent short novel is now a 400-page behemoth. And because it's Faulkner people will pretend it's better this way and people will write silly things on Goodreads like, "Begin with Faulkner here." No. Faulkner wrote four major novels and they're ones everyone knows: begin there. The ...more
May 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, civil-war
A terrific book. Not too difficult, but will take some patience. A good read for one that wishes to follow Faulkner deeper into his stories and writing style. Just slow down, take it easy, and enjoy the ride.
Rachel Koch Gonzalez
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-abc
I've never been able to decide how I feel about William Faulkner's writing. I read As I Lay Dying years ago, and I thought it was an okay book: very dark, sad, and almost twisted, but it was very well written. I can't deny that Faulkner was a very talented man. The biggest struggle I have with him is the dialect he creates for his characters to speak in. I have to work pretty hard to understand what they're saying, and I don't particularly like that, but I did get used to it after 100 pages or ...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 set in his native state of Mississippi. Though his work was published as early
“Nowadays he drove the car into town to fetch his grandfather from habit alone, and though he still considered forty five miles an hour merely cruising speed, he no longer took cold and fiendish pleasure in turning curves on two wheels or in detaching mules from wagons by striking the whiffle-trees with his bumper in passing.” 2 likes
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