Published August 22, 1973,
by Random House.
Flags in the Dust was Faulkners first novel to be set
in Yoknapatawpha County
(though called “Yocona” in the novel), but it would
not be published in its original form during Faulkners lifetime
because he could not find a willing publisher. Finally released
in a drastically cut form as Sartoris
in 1929, the manuscript for Flags lay dormant until it was
restored and published under the editorial direction of Douglas
Day in 1973.
The novel is set just after
World War I and focuses largely on the aristocratic Sartoris
family, a once-powerful and influential family who must now contend
with inevitable decline and impending death. The novel continually
juxtaposes military exploits in two wars: the Civil War, in which
John Sartoris looms as a larger-than-life cavalry officer for
the handful of men and women who remember him, and the Great War,
in which the two youngest Sartorises, the twins Bayard
both served as air aces, a service in which John lost his life.
In quiet contrast to the Sartorises wanton recklessness is
who went to the war not as a soldier but as a member of the YMCA,
and his sister Narcissa,
who eventually marries Bayard and bears him a son
despite her reservations about his self-destructive tendencies.
Flags in the Dust
is significant as Faulkners first extensive foray into the
people and history of Yoknapatawpha County, offering glimpses into
many of the themes and characters (such as the Snopes, one of whom
appears in a minor role as a would-be suitor for Narcissa) that
would dominate his fiction for the remainder of his career.
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