Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Jefferson. Fictional town based on Faulkner’s hometown of Oxford, in the northeastern part of Mississippi. In several novels and stories, he created his own microcosm, his own “little postage stamp of native soil.” Although his mythical county bears considerable resemblance to the real locale, he altered certain details involving chronology and individual characters. Recurrent locales and characters, such as Temple Drake and Gavin and Gowan Stevens, link this to other Yoknapatawpha fiction, especially the earlier novel Sanctuary (1931). By tracing the history of the town and its buildings in the narratives between the acts, Faulkner makes it clear how significant place is in his fiction, particularly in this novel. Both the courthouse and the jail figure in Sanctuary and are again employed as settings here.


Courthouse. Act 1 of the play is introduced by a prose narrative titled “The Courthouse (A Name for the City)” that is designed to establish the significance of the place as more than a mere backdrop for the story. In this section, Faulkner traces the history of Jefferson, Mississippi, from its founding, near the beginning of the nineteenth century, to the time of the narrative. The courthouse was constructed some thirty years after the town was founded. The narrative sets the stage for the first scene of the play, which occurs in the courtroom in which Nancy...

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(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Blotner, Joseph. Faulkner: A Biography. 2 vols. New York: Random House, 1974. A comprehensive biography of Faulkner, which includes a historical discussion of his ancestors, his development as a writer, and the genesis of his work. An excellent beginning source.

Izard, Barbara, and Clara Hieronymous. “Requiem for a Nun”: Onstage and Off. Nashville, Tenn.: Aurora, 1970. Traces the evolution of the text, its sources and the French adaptation by Albert Camus, and the performances of the dramatic portion of the novel in Germany, Greece, and Great Britain.

Polk, Noel. Faulkner’s “Requiem for a Nun”: A Critical Study. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981. An exhaustive analysis of the novel that draws on the academic scholarship generated by the work and by Faulkner’s career.

Polk, Noel. Requiem for a Nun: A Concordance to the Novel. West Point, N.Y.: Faulkner Concordance Advisory Board, 1979. Establishes a critical tool of immense value to those who wish to examine the novel in depth and detail.

Ruppersburg, Hugh M. Voice and Eye in Faulkner’s Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1983. A fine, detailed, but easily accessible overall introduction to the study of the novel.

Watson, Jay. Forensic Fictions: The Lawyer Figure in Faulkner. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1993. In chapter 5, “Maieutic Forensics: Or, Requiem for a Nun and the Talking Cure,” the author focuses on the role of Gavin Stevens, Faulkner’s quintessential lawyer.