Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Chaulnesmont (SHON-mon). French town that is a site of Allied headquarters during World War I. Scenes in the novel are set in the town square of Chaulnesmont and in the surrounding countryside, including a country estate serving as the headquarters of General Gragnon. In Chaulnesmont the corporal and his men are executed after their court martial. There are also scenes set in the front-line trenches described as being “below the Bethune slagheap.” These locales as well as others in A Fable have a somewhat detached and surreal quality, as if they were occurring in an unearthly setting. Some locales, such as the foxhole in which the soldiers live, are described in considerable detail, and the time element of each section is usually clearly specified, since the author wants his readers to associate the events and characters with the war. Nevertheless a sense of unreality prevails throughout the book, for Faulkner does not delineate the sights, sounds, and smells of specific places as in most of his novels and stories. The narrative approach he uses in A Fable befits a work that is closer to being a fable than a realistic novel.


*Mississippi. A set piece told as a background story concerning the theft of a race horse in 1912 contains scenes in Louisiana and Mississippi. The Mississippi scenes might be read as being set in Yoknapatawpha County.


*Paris. Several scenes are set in the French capital, including one in which a former British army officer identified only as the Runner goes to Paris to seek out the characters involved in the theft of the race horse. In one of the major coincidences of the novel the corporal who instigates the peace movement among Allied and German soldiers and has been executed for treason is buried in the city’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

St. Mihiel

St. Mihiel (sah[n] mih-heel). French town to which the body of the executed corporal is taken by his sisters. St. Mihiel parallels Nazareth in the life of Christ.

A Fable Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Brooks, Cleanth. William Faulkner: Toward Yoknapatawpha and Beyond. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1978. Criticism of the five Faulkner novels that take place outside of Yoknapatawpha County. Finds A Fable to be less realistic than other Faulkner novels and therefore weaker.

Butterworth, Keen. A Critical and Textual Study of Faulkner’s “A Fable.” Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1983. Compares A Fable to Faulkner’s great novels, then explains the events of the novels and elaborates on the characters and their significance.

Dowling, David. William Faulkner. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989. Includes a chronology and sections outlining the major works completed during different periods in Faulkner’s life. Gives considerable criticism of A Fable and finds it to be the last great novel written by Faulkner.

Leary, Lewis. William Faulkner of Yoknapatawpha County. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1973. A good general guide and introduction to the life of Faulkner. Traces his biography and work with some reference to A Fable.

Reed, Joseph W., Jr. Faulkner’s Narrative. New Haven: Conn.: Yale University Press, 1973. A view of Faulkner’s writing technique, form, and thematic devices. Examines his voice and narrative style and the impact of that style on other writers. Useful references to A Fable.