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The Unvanquished
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Group Reads: Pre-1990 > The Unvanquished, Initial Impressions, May, 2015

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message 1: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Here is the spot to begin our discussion of The Unvanquished by William Faulkner. The origins of this novel are found in a series of short stories published by Faulkner in Saturday Evening Post Magazine. These are stories of Yoknapatwpha County and Jefferson during the American Civil War.

The first short story was "The Unvanquished," featuring Old Bayard Sartoris whom we met in Flags in the Dust, Bayard's slave, and his boyhood friend Ringo. You'll find other familiar characters found in Flags in the Dust. The stories continued to appear in Saturday Evening Post throughout 1934 and 1935. Faulkner interrupted writing these stories when he began Absalom, Absalom! in 1936. Faulkner once again picked up this series of stories upon completing A, A. In 1937, Faulkner approached Random House about a compilation of the stories connected by Faulkner's re-writing and revisions. Random House accepted. Following the acceptance for publication, Faulkner wrote the final story in the series, "The Odor of Verbena," for which he had not found publication.

Though The Unvanquished is not considered a major work in the Faulkner Canon, I find it highly enjoyable. As I have often said, a minor work by Faulkner is as satisfying as a "major" work by many another author. What works for me, as many of Faulkner's other works do for me, Faulkner's weaving the stories of recurring characters throughout the body of his work is intriguing. This technique brilliantly shows the changing times in the South and how those changes effected Southern class, culture, and society, among all classes and races.

Special thanks to Moderator Diane Barnes, "Miss Scarlette," for her having nominated this work. I hope that each of you who chooses to read this novel takes away something from it as satisfying as I have-and that you will be inspired to continue to work your way through the Faulkner Canon. Although we have read much, we have considerably more to go. Each offers something unique to the reader's understanding of Southern Literature.

Lawyer Stevens


message 2: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Yesterday, Trail Member Hana sent me a question regarding the definition of "The Corrected Text" as it refers to the works of William Faulkner. It's a good question. And this is an appropriate spot to discuss that issue. Following is Hana's and my exchange:

May 1, 2015

Hana wrote: "Hi, Mike. I just order a copy of the 1991 'corrected' edition, but I'm wondering what the corrections are? Any thoughts?"

Good morning, Hana! "The Corrected Text" editions refer to those editions prepared by Faulkner expert Noel Polk. Along with Faulkner biographer Joseph Blotner, Polk edited the first volume of Faulkner novels published by the Library of America. Polk continued this gargantuan task, ultimately completing it. The Corrected Text refers to Faulkner's work as he submitted it to the publisher without editorial intervention.

To accomplish this Polk relied on Faulkner's original typescripts and notes.

From the notes on the text of The Library of America, Faulkner, Novels, 1936-1940:

"The Unvanquished had its beginning as a short story about a white boy, Bayard Sartoris, and his Negro slave and friend, Ringo, during the Civil War. It was written in the spring of 1934, while Faulkner was taking a break from his work on Absalom, Absalom! He needed to "boil the pot," he claimed, and make some money from magazine sales. "Ambuscade," published in The Saturday Evening Post on September 29, 1934, then, became the first of a series of seven stories about these boys, covering a period of about a decade and a half in their lives. Other stories in the series followed quickly: "Retreat," (Saturday Evening Post, October 13, 1934); "Raid" (Saturday Evening Post, November 3, 1934); and "Drusilla" (Scribner's, April 1935; retitled "Skirmish at Sartoris" in the book). At this point Faulkner broke off the series in order to complete Absalom, Absalom!, but took up the series again almost immediately after that novel was published in October 1936. "The Unvanquished" (retitled "Riposte in Tertio" in the book) was published in The Saturday Evening Post on November 14, 1936, and "Vendýýe" in The Saturday Evening Post on December 5 of the same year. In late December of 1936, Faulkner wrote to Random House proposing a book of these Civil War stories, but it was not until the end of the following July that he wrote the final story, "An Odor of Verbena," to complete the series. He was not able to sell this story to a magazine. His preparation of the stories for book publication, in the fall of 1937, reflects the same sort of commercial haste that had gone into their writing. Although he revised and rewrote a good bit of the text, expanding and elaborating and doing much to weld the separate stories into a single narrative, for the most part he gave to the printer magazine tearsheets only slightly revised in ink. The setting copy is thus a combination of the magazine tearsheets and many revised and newly typed pages; it is a setting copy that complicates editorial work on the current edition. The Post and Scribner's editors had, of course, heavily edited Faulkner's text in fairly predictable ways for family magazines; they not only normalized his punctuation--supplying apostrophes in "wont", "dont", and "cant", and periods for "Mr" and "Mrs", for example--but also bowdlerized many of the mild epithets and prettied up some of the more colorful dialect language. Since Faulkner did not emend the magazine texts back toward his normal usage in such matters, the changes made by the magazine editors were retained in the portions of the book version set from the magazine tearsheets. To complicate matters further, though it is clear that Faulkner typed most of the new pages himself, some of the pages were definitely typed by someone else, and others may have been. Thus copy-text for the Polk edition of The Unvanquished consists of the new ribbon typescript Faulkner prepared as he revised, the carbon typescripts underlying those portions of the text represented by tearsheets (since the ribbon typescripts of the magazine versions are not known to exist), and certain smaller passages that appeared for the first time in the magazine text. (All of the extant materials relevant to the editing of The Unvanquished--Faulkner's typescript/tearsheet setting copy, the carbon typescripts of the magazine versions of the individual stories, and the holograph manuscripts--are in the Rowan Oak Papers at the University of Mississippi; one typescript of "The Unvanquished" is in the Alderman Library of the University of Virginia.) The copy-text has been emended to account for changes, either on the magazine or book galleys (none of the galleys is known to exist) or on the original ribbon typescript pages from which the magazine texts were set, that might reasonably be attributed to Faulkner. Significant inconsistencies, such as those in chronology, have not been altered."



Both Blotner and Polk were fascinating men. Both idolized Faulkner. Both knew his works inside and out. Polk was Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Mississippi at Oxford. He died in 2012.

The "Corrected Text" editions are now considered the "standard" accepted versions of Faulkner as Faulkner intended his works to be read. Not only are these editions published by LOA, but also in the Vintage Edition pictured.

Lawyer Stevens


John | 533 comments Let me reintroduce two sites that will shed some light in May to help follow that Faulkner guy. Particularly if one wants to get a handle on the genealogy that spreads though out his works.

http://www.mcsr.olemiss.edu/~egjbp/fa...

http://www.shmoop.com/

I don't mean to belabor a point but we do have some new members.


message 4: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
John wrote: "Let me reintroduce two sites that will shed some light in May to help follow that Faulkner guy. Particularly if one wants to get a handle on the genealogy that spreads though out his works.

http:..."


John, point not belabored. *grin* These are always worthwhile sites. And thanks for reposting them.

"Lawyer Stevens"


Karen John wrote: "Let me reintroduce two sites that will shed some light in May to help follow that Faulkner guy. Particularly if one wants to get a handle on the genealogy that spreads though out his works.

http:..."


I like the first one you posted-the ole miss website very much, quite helpful


John | 533 comments ty both. Karen I like it too, even though it is un finished. I've taken to printing the genealogical charts and inserting them into the library books I have used. that old card sleeve is perfect place.


Mmars | 35 comments Just dove into the Unvanquished today. As often happens to me I needed to read the first chapter twice before getting into a story. But now I'm thoroughly enjoying it.


message 8: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 663 comments I decided to get my own copy rather than use the library one so mine is now on it's way. I do like the secondary market as I seem to be getting a remaindered copy since it's new for far less than new price. Then I will be joining the read. Looking forward to rejoining Faulkner's world again.


message 9: by Jane (last edited May 11, 2015 05:36AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 753 comments How can you put your finger on Faulkner s eternal magic ? For me I often have the impression that every once in a while his fictional accounts take a step back and the reader is propelled back into the past to witness something that really happened just like a curtain being pulled back ,in a flash and then it s gone again. I m thinking of the descriptions of the slaves , like shadows, running to the river to cross over to freedom .I haven t perfected an explanation of his art yet and maybe I never will ;)


message 10: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4115 comments Mod
Read the first chapter, and am hooked.


message 11: by Jane (last edited May 11, 2015 05:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 753 comments Diane wrote: "Read the first chapter, and am hooked." I just love this; the characters seem fuller than his other novels or just more bite size. This is my third Faulkner so maybe it is a question of the more you read him the better it gets as you get to know the characters more.


message 12: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4115 comments Mod
For me, with this one, I was there immediately in the center of the action, smelling the wet dirt, feeling the pride of Bayard, the confusion of Ringo, and Loosh's contempt for their "Vicksburg living map".


message 13: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 753 comments That scene is such an ingenious way of starting the stories I think Faulkner has the eye for the bigger picture and detail together.


message 14: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Jane wrote: "That scene is such an ingenious way of starting the stories I think Faulkner has the eye for the bigger picture and detail together."

Jane wrote: "Diane wrote: "Read the first chapter, and am hooked." I just love this; the characters seem fuller than his other novels or just more bite size. This is my third Faulkner so maybe it is a question ..."

It's so nice to see the discussion opening up with your comments. I began this last night. It will be my third read and the novel continues to be as fresh for me as when I first read it. Continue to enjoy. I sure am.


message 15: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "For me, with this one, I was there immediately in the center of the action, smelling the wet dirt, feeling the pride of Bayard, the confusion of Ringo, and Loosh's contempt for their "Vicksburg liv..."

Absolutely! And it just gets better. It is an ideal companion to Flags in the Dust. Thanks so much for nominating this one!


message 16: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Mmars wrote: "Just dove into the Unvanquished today. As often happens to me I needed to read the first chapter twice before getting into a story. But now I'm thoroughly enjoying it."

Please do keep us posted on your impressions! I do look forward to your final reaction to this one. So glad to have you with us.


message 17: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 753 comments Mike wrote: "Diane wrote: "For me, with this one, I was there immediately in the center of the action, smelling the wet dirt, feeling the pride of Bayard, the confusion of Ringo, and Loosh's contempt for their ..."I am so glad that I had read Flags in the Dustbefore this one and yes, it s a great companion read and I have just got out Flags to skim through again at the same time .


Mmars | 35 comments Mike wrote: "Mmars wrote: "Just dove into the Unvanquished today. As often happens to me I needed to read the first chapter twice before getting into a story. But now I'm thoroughly enjoying it."

Please do kee..."


I finished it this morning and my review is up. Look forward to the discussions here and in the final impressions thread.


Karen I haven't finished yet- I'm only on page 87. I love the friendship between Bayard and Ringo- and that strong elderly woman is there again, no one can accuse Faulkner of sexism.
I have a fascinating and brilliant in true Faulkner style of a description of moving shadows that I bookmarked, I will post it later- I love it.


message 20: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Karen wrote: "I haven't finished yet- I'm only on page 87. I love the friendship between Bayard and Ringo- and that strong elderly woman is there again, no one can accuse Faulkner of sexism.
I have a fascinatin..."


Karen, I agree completely. Rosa Millard is exceptionally strong and the ultimate heroine of the novel. I also enjoy the young Jinny DuPree of whom we have a much more complete portrait in Flags in the Dust. Faulkner has often been accused of sexism and other isms. This novel belies that criticism in my opinion.


message 21: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4115 comments Mod
Well, the first chapter/story was a piece of comic genius. The 2 boys, one white, one black, running in crying, "The Yankees are coming to free us!" Bayard thinking when he saw the Yankee that he looked just like a man. And the grandmother lying through her teeth while hiding the boys under her skirt. I've got to look at the genealogies that John told us about, print it so I can refer to it.


message 22: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4115 comments Mod
Let me also say that altho I am a reader who uses all forms of delivery to read (Nook, Kindle, Library) I bought all of the Library of America volumes of Faulkner from a used site. From a tactile sense, these books are a joy to read. The paper is very high quality, the books are a wonderful size, and are beautifully bound. It adds to my pleasure in reading a novel by a beloved author to do so in this form.


Karen Diane wrote: "Well, the first chapter/story was a piece of comic genius. The 2 boys, one white, one black, running in crying, "The Yankees are coming to free us!" Bayard thinking when he saw the Yankee that he..."

Lol!!


Karen Mike wrote;
"Karen, I agree completely. Rosa Millard is exceptionally strong and the ultimate heroine of the novel. I also enjoy the young Jinny DuPree of whom we have a much more complete portrait in Flags in the Dust. Faulkner has often been accused of sexism and other isms. This novel belies that criticism in my opinion."

I think You and I could challenge effectively anyone who says WF was sexist. And I love what Toni Morrison says about him- she doesn't know if he was a racist, and she doesn't really care.


Karen Here is the quote I liked where Faulkner is describing how Loosh looked in the dark as he had been running.
"all of a sudden he was just kind of hanging there against the lighted doorway like he had been cut out of tin in the act of running and was inside the cabin and the door shut black again almost before we knew what we had seen."
It 's so clear to me that he is describing a shadow in the light and the dark almost simultaneously for a split second. Who can describe this as interestingly as Faulkner??
I am convinced no one else can- it's stuff like this that make him so special.


message 26: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 753 comments Diane wrote: "Let me also say that altho I am a reader who uses all forms of delivery to read (Nook, Kindle, Library) I bought all of the Library of America volumes of Faulkner from a used site. From a tactile ..."I love the Library of America and when I can I grab bargains too getting quite a collection together


message 27: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 753 comments Karen wrote: "Here is the quote I liked where Faulkner is describing how Loosh looked in the dark as he had been running.
"all of a sudden he was just kind of hanging there against the lighted doorway like he h..."
Yes!


Connie G (connie_g) | 450 comments This was a great introduction to Yoknapatwpha County. I'm a member of Granny's fan club too. What a strong, courageous woman when her world is falling apart!


Karen Connie wrote: "This was a great introduction to Yoknapatwpha County. I'm a member of Granny's fan club too. What a strong, courageous woman when her world is falling apart!"

I'm not done yet, but I certainly agree- another strong woman in a WF story! I also love the way Ringo was depicted as part of the family, unusual for the times that's for sure. I wonder how many white families were like this- probably very few.


message 30: by Hana (last edited May 14, 2015 02:49PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana Karen wrote: "Here is the quote I liked where Faulkner is describing how Loosh looked in the dark as he had been running.
"all of a sudden he was just kind of hanging there against the lighted doorway like he h..."


I love the quote and your comment, Karen.

I just got started. I'm still in the first chapter when Father comes home. The way everything is happening in impressionistic flashes--sharp, quick, intensely felt, not fully understood--is quite wonderful.


Karen Thanks- impressionistic flashes, I like that!


message 32: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Hana wrote: "Karen wrote: "Here is the quote I liked where Faulkner is describing how Loosh looked in the dark as he had been running.
"all of a sudden he was just kind of hanging there against the lighted doo..."


Hana, I agree with Karen regarding your impressionisic flashes. Love it. Faulkner had a remarkable tendency to drop you down into the story "in medias res" one of those characteristics that made him a "modernist." He left many things to the reader to figure out. It was not difficult to do after reading along a bit. I finished "Ambuscade." And have moved along to the second story. Father has moved back to the war. The heavily laden silver trunk has been dug up and will be enroute to Memphis. Much is to come. However, though this is my third, I find The Unvanquished especially rich in detail. I think your statement that the flashes you experience result from the observations of a twelve year old Bayard who does not fully understand the ramifications of what is occurring in the war. Watch for a fuller understanding of the circumstances as the novel progresses. *smile* So glad you are along for this read.

Mike
"Lawyer Stevens"


message 33: by Hana (last edited May 17, 2015 07:09AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana I love Granny and that scene in Ambuscade where she hides Bayard and Ringo in her skirts and lies to the Yankees.
...I said suddenly:"And you told a lie..."

"I know it," she said. She moved. "Help me up." She got out of the chair, holding to us....We just stood there while she held on to us and to the chair and let herself down to her knees beside it. It was Ringo that knelt first. Then I knelt too while she asked the Lord to forgive her for telling the lie...."Go to the kitchen and get a pan of water and the soap," she said.
One tough lady!


Karen So many of Faulkners novels have strong women characters- I find this so interesting! A man ahead of his time in writing and thinking. Love that guy.


message 35: by Hana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana This is my first ever Faulkner and I'm loving the intensely real characters. The moments in time and place seem have been distilled down to their combustible essence until they're stronger than the kind of moonshine you can light your house by--or the kind that can burn the house down.

I'm almost afraid to find out which tale he'll tell here, because I'm already in love with Ringo, Bayard and, especially, Granny.


Karen I'm glad you are loving Faulkner Hana!


message 37: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4115 comments Mod
I had 2 wonderful Grannies, very different, but both strong women. I am not a Granny yet, and may not ever be one officially, but I hope I could live up to their reputations. Grannies are incredible, because age and experience trump youth every time.


message 38: by Hana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana This is such an amazing passage:

It was as if Ringo felt it too and that the railroad, the rushing locomotive which he hoped to see symbolised it — the motion, the impulse to move which had already seethed to a head among his people, darker than themselves, reasonless, following and seeking a delusion, a dream, a bright shape which they could not know since there was nothing in their heritage, nothing in the memory even of the old men to tell the others, 'This is what we will find'; he nor they could not have known what it was yet it was there - one of those impulses inexplicable yet invincible which appear among races of people at intervals and drive them to pick up and leave all security and familiarity of earth and home and start out, they dont know where, empty handed, blind to everything but a hope and a doom.


message 39: by Hana (last edited May 19, 2015 10:03AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana I thought I would add some of my notes from Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution 1863-1877--a terrific book BTW.

"For the slaves themselves, hope was an irrepressible urge: well before the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, thousands of slaves had deserted plantations and headed for the safety of Northern lines and by the end of the war over 200,000 African Americans would serve as Union soldiers...others took to the roads in the thousands trying to reunite with relatives sold away to other masters; still more sought land that they could farm on their own behalf."

Faulkner describes this vast wave so vividly--but also makes it universal. This isn't just about the Civil War.


message 40: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 753 comments http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13... is one of the best books. Great passage


Karen Hana wrote: "I thought I would add some of my notes from Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution 1863-1877--a terrific book BTW.

"For the slaves themselves, hope was an irrepressible urge..."


Good one Hana! This was a great passage, thanks for sharing it.


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