How Far Does Imagination Go?

I love the works of William Faulkner. I have loved his stories since I discovered them, at the wonderful prompting of my 11th grade English teacher, when I was in high school. I have taken graduate courses over him. The first paid writing gig I had was to write about him in an article over Southern Gothic literature. He is brilliant. Not only do I enjoy his writing style, which to me is as natural as going to the grocery store and listening to the people talk to each other, but the families he created and their stories – amazing.

When I think about the geneaology he created for his Yoknapatawpha County in Mississippi, I am amazed. I find it hard to remember if I turned off the stove when I leave the house. I cannot fathom how he kept the details straight for an entire county’s worth of people – and these aren’t boring, set around on their rears people. No, this is a county full of all sorts of characters with long and detailed family histories.

I love this about Faulkner. He created a whole world. This is different from what author fiction authors do. We can’t write fiction without creating some sort of world for our characters, but Faulkner created a fully developed, living breathing, dark, twisted place.

The University of Ole Miss has a Faulkner glossary with detailed information about Yoknapatawpha County and a copy of his map that he drew for the county in his book Absalom! Absalom!

He never missed a detail, never made a mistake in the genaology of his characters. Amazing!


About melindamcguirewrites

The young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. ------ William Faulkner, Nobel Prize Speech, Stockholm, 1950
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2 Responses to How Far Does Imagination Go?

  1. TheBookGirl says:

    Faulkner is one of those writers that I always meant to read and never got around to; something about his writing intimidated me I think. Maybe this summer I will give it a try 🙂

  2. I would suggest starting with some of his short stories – his collection – Big Woods is great. It would be a good introduction to the rest of his works.

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