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 Cultu
re, 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.