Yoknapatawpha County By Gradisek, Amanda
A fictional county created by American author William Faulkner, Yoknapatawpha County serves as the setting of many of Faulkner’s works. Based on Lafayette County in Mississippi, Yoknapatawpha is located in north-western Mississippi. In Faulknerian lore, this area was dominated before the Civil War by the Sartoris, Compson, and Sutpen plantations and by slave labour. Many of Faulkner’s novels—including Sanctuary, Absalom, Absalom!, and The Sound and the Fury — as well as some of his short stories take place here. Because of this common setting, characters, plots, and locations transcend traditional boundaries, building a web of textual interconnectivity.
The name ‘Yoknapatawpha’ derives from two words of the local Native American Chickasaw language (meaning ‘split land’). The name could reference either the physical nature of the land, divided as it is by the Tallahatchie River into plantation and pine-topped hill lands, or the division of Black and White created by the slave system. The map of this fictitious county, included in Absalom, Absalom!, allows readers a point of entry for the interconnected and vibrant setting that characterizes Faulkner’s modernist aesthetic.