I was taken aback to discover the following in William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! on page 157 of my (Vintage International) edition:
the magnolia-faced woman a little plumper now, a woman created of by and for darkness whom the artist Beardsley might have dressed, in a soft flowing gown designed not to infer bereavement or widowhood but to dress some interlude of slumbrous and fatal insatiation, of passionate and inexorable hunger of the flesh
(The whole sentence is, predictably, fairly long, so I've only included part of it.)
My question is about the use of the word "infer," which I've bolded above. As far as I can tell, this is an example of the classic "infer"/"imply" confusion, but I'm surprised to see it here.
So, which of the following do you reckon is correct?
- I've misread or misunderstood the sentence, and this usage is standard.
- This usage is incorrect in standard written English but is a standard dialectal usage (in either Faulkner's own dialect or the dialect of the narrator/characters).
- This usage is nonstandard and is an error.
- None of the above.
(Please feel free to retag -- I'm not sure what's appropriate here.)