In 1952, Faulkner noted the exceptional nature of the South when
he characterized it as "the only really authentic region in the
United States, because a deep indestructible bond still exists
between man and his environment."
The essays collected in Faulkner and the Ecology of the
South explore Faulkner's environmental imagination, seeking
what Ann Fisher-Wirth calls the "ecological counter-melody" of his
texts. "Ecology" was not a term in common use outside the sciences
in Faulkner's time. However, the word "environment" seems to have
held deep meaning for Faulkner. Often he repeated his abiding
interest in "man in conflict with himself, with his fellow man, or
with his time and place, his environment."
Eco-criticism has led to a renewed interest among literary
scholars for what in this volume Cecelia Tichi calls, "humanness
within congeries of habitats and en-vironments." Philip Weinstein
draws on Pierre Bourdieu's notion of habitus. Eric Anderson argues
that Faulkner's fiction has much to do with ecology in the sense
that his work often examines the ways in which human communities
interact with the natural world, and François Pitavy sees
Faulkner's wilderness as unnatural in the ways it represents
reflections of man's longings and frustrations. Throughout these
essays, scholars illuminate in fresh ways the precarious ecosystem
of Yoknapatawpha County.
Joseph R. Urgo, Oxford, Mississippi, is chair of the English
department at the University of Mississippi. His books include
Faulkner's Apocrypha, Novel Frames: Literature as Guide to
Race, Sex, and History in American Culture, and In the Age of
Distraction, all published by University Press of Mississippi.
Ann J. Abadie, Oxford, is associate director of the Center for the
Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. She has
coedited Faulkner and His Contemporaries, Faulkner and
War, Faulkner and Postmodernism, and Faulkner at
100: Retrospect and Prospect, among other Faulkner volumes,
all published by University Press of Mississippi.