New STUDY THE SOUTH Article on Geography and Myth in Faulkner
“The Delta and Yoknapatawpha: The Layering of Geography and Myth in the Works of William Faulkner”
An Essay by Phillip Gordon
Published November 28, 2016
The best-known setting for William Faulkner’s work is of course the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, set in the hills of North Mississippi, but Faulkner also spent time in the Mississippi Delta, both in person and on paper. In various ways, Delta natives and those with close ties to the alluvial region—such as Ben Wasson, William Alexander Percy, and Phil Stone—significantly affected Faulkner’s life and career. As a result, the Mississippi Delta’s impression on Faulkner influenced much of his fiction in the 1930s and ’40s. The Delta crops up in novels such as The Wild Palms, Go Down, Moses, and Absalom, Absalom! and in stories such as “The Bear,” “Red Leaves,” “A Justice,” and “A Courtship.” Unfurled, these novels and stories present a Faulknerian history of the Delta, and in “The Delta and Yoknapatawpha: The Layering of Geography and Myth in the Works of William Faulkner,” Phillip Gordon bridges the narrow divide between these two Mississippi regions that were so significant to the work of Mississippi’s most celebrated author.
About the Author
Phillip “Pip” Gordon is an assistant professor of English and the gay studies coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. He wrote his dissertation on representations of homosexuality in the works of William Faulkner, and he is currently trying to convert that project into a book. He has published essays on AIDS narratives and on depictions of suicide and bullying in recent LGBT young adult fiction, and he has done archival work on Mississippi author Hubert Creekmore. A native of Jackson, Tennessee, he currently resides in Mineral Point, Wisconsin.