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Faulkner and FormalismReturns of the Text$
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Annette Trefzer and Ann J. Abadie

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781617032561

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617032561.001.0001

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Flags in the Dust and the Birth of a Poetics

Flags in the Dust and the Birth of a Poetics

(p.2) (p.3) Flags in the Dust and the Birth of a Poetics
Faulkner and Formalism

Arthur F. Kinney

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter focuses on the publication history of William Faulkner’s third novel Flags in the Dust (which would be retitled Sartoris) and its rejection by the publishing house Horace Liveright. It suggests that readers for Liveright judged the novel’s structure haphazard and fragmented because they initially could not comprehend Faulkner’s emerging aesthetic. By contrast, Jean-Paul Sartre of France was able to grasp the nature of Faulkner’s textual experiments early on, probably because the latter’s poetic reminds him of that of Honoré de Balzac. Both Balzac and Faulkner developed a distinct sense of place and a richly detailed prose style to create “tapestry-like fiction.” The chapter argues that Faulkner had actually carefully designed what initially seemed haphazard prose. It also discusses many similarities between Flags in the Dust and another Faulkner novel, The Sound and the Fury, highlighting their close intertextual links and parallels between their “deliberate and revolutionary poetics.”

Keywords:   poetics, William Faulkner, publishing house, Horace Liveright, Jean-Paul Sartre, Honoré de Balzac, prose, tapestry-like fiction

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