Study Guide

William Faulkner Yoknapatawpha County

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Yoknapatawpha County

It was inside the rooms of the renovated Rowan Oak that Faulkner, within the span of seven years—1929 to 1936—wrote four of his most famous and highly regarded novels: The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Light in August, and Absalom, Absalom! The speed with which these books were written is astonishing, given the complexity of the narratives and the richness of the language. All four works are set in Yoknapatawpha County, a fictional world based closely on the people and places of Faulkner's native Lafayette County in Mississippi. As Faulkner conceived it, Yoknapatawpha County was a veritable universe, replete with its own geography, history, and interrelated narratives. Faulkner didn't conduct any specialized research for his books. Instead, he used his own experiences, as well as the stories passed down to him as a child, as fuel for his literary imagination. Faulkner had been fascinated by southern history—particularly the history of the Falkner clan—since childhood, so it comes as little surprise that all four of these formidable novels deal with issues of identity, family, race, and gender in the post-Civil War deep South. As fellow author Robert Penn Warren said of Faulkner, "He was besotted with history, his own and those of people around him. He lived within history, and the history became him." Scathing reviews aside, the novel was a bestseller and landed Faulkner a much-needed paycheck for the book's movie rights.

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