Review: Faulkner and the Ecology of the South

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Review: Faulkner and the Ecology of the South Joseph R. Urgo and Ann J. Abadie (Eds.) Reviewed by Ryder W. Miller San Francisco, USA Joseph R. Urgo and Ann J. Abadie (Eds.). Faulkner and the Ecology of the South. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2005. 173 pp. ISBN: 1- 57806-782-0. $45.00 (trade cloth). Alkaline paper.

From the 30th Annual Mississippi University Faulkner Conference (2003): Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha, the editors have collected a group of papers focusing on the social ecology of William Faulkner's (1897-1962) oeuvre. Explored in ten essays is much of Faulkner's canon, which mostly centered on the documentaries depiction of the imagined southern Yoknapatawpha County and its residents. The authors explore Faulkner's literary depiction of nature, a depiction that includes people in its ecological web. Ecology here is not solely about natural sciences or preservation, but is more broadly defined to include civilization and its denizens.

In the introduction Joseph Urgo writes: "By ecology we do not exclude the natural world, though what we have in mind is more akin to the idea of a human ecology, the interaction of humans with their environment-made and found, communities as well as habitats." (p. ix) This use of the word ecology expands upon the strict definition of Nature, which is sometimes assumed to exclude human culture.

Faulkner, who died before Earth Day, never used the term "ecology," and by environment he meant social ecology: "human beings in conflict with their nature, their character, their souls, with others, or with their environment." Nature was sometimes part of his exploration of place, and one can find passages in which characters interact with and appreciate the natural world.

As the contributors contend, humankind often plays a negative role in the ecology of Yoknapatawpha County. They bring with them a selfish genetic drive, which has caused devastation to land, community, civilization, and psyche. …


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