William Faulkner and the Southern Landscape

Charles S. Aiken

A fresh approach to the relationship between literary imagination and place in Faulkner's work


"William Faulkner and the Southern Landscape quite successfully provides a rich, thorough, and nuanced geographical context for the work that Faulkner did in his lifetime, transforming Oxford and Lafayette County into the fictional Jefferson and Yoknapatawpha County. Charles Aiken, a Mississippian, has spent a lifetime thinking about this area, watching it change. He has written a highly original contribution to the field."
—Joseph R. Urgo, author of In the Age of Distraction

"William Faulkner and the Southern Landscape is a real contribution to Faulkner studies, Southern studies, American studies, and cultural geography. It's a book one doesn't want to put down, because Aiken is always showing us something from a perspective we have not had before."
—Thomas L. McHaney, author of Literary Masters: William Faulkner

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Charles S. Aiken, a native of Mississippi who was born a few miles from Oxford, has been thinking and writing about the geography of Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County for more than thirty years. William Faulkner and the Southern Landscape is the culmination of that long-term scholarly project. It is a fresh approach to a much-studied writer and a provocative meditation on the relationship between literary imagination and place.

Four main geographical questions shape Aiken's journey to the family seat of the Compsons and the Snopeses. What patterns and techniques did Faulkner use—consciously or subconsciously—to convert the real geography of Lafayette County into a fictional space? Did Faulkner intend Yoknapatawpha to serve as a microcosm of the American South? In what ways does the historical geography of Faulkner's birthplace correspond to that of the fictional world he created? Finally, what geographic legacy has Faulkner left us through the fourteen novels he set in Yoknapatawpha?

With an approach, methodology, and sources primarily derived from historical geography, Aiken takes the reader on a tour of Faulkner's real and imagined worlds. The result is an informed reading of Faulkner's life and work and a refined understanding of the relation of literary worlds to the real places that inspire them.

Center Books on the American South

Page count: 304 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $36.95

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Charles S. Aiken is a professor of geography at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is the author of The Cotton Plantation South since the Civil War, winner of the J. B. Jackson Prize from the Association of American Geographers.