|The map of William Faulkner’s imaginary county, Yoknapatawpha, was first
published in 1936 as an attachment to the Random House edition of his ninth
novel, Absalom, Absalom! At a glance it was obvious that the terrain of a fictional county bore
a great resemblance to that of the author’s home country. The place where
scenes in the seven of his past novels were located looked almost identical
with Lafayette county, Mississippi, and the town of Jefferson, the center
of all the narrative interaction, with the town of Oxford. From then on,
this map became a ground of comparison of Yoknapatawpha with Lafayette,
the fictional with the real, or the apocryphal with the actual. It was
taken for granted that Faulkner revealed by this map a secret of his creative
imagination, that the author intentionally displayed the credit of creation
of his mythical world to his own familiar domain.
Accordingly the map has become, in a sense, less the map of Yoknapatawpha than that of Lafayette. It is no doubt that Faulkner registered into his novels a specific milieu of the South with its history, geography, and people, focusing mostly on one small area in Mississippi. Since he gives a concrete contour to his fictional space by borrowing the geographical features of an actual place, learning the similarity between the two places allows us to understand the fictional world better. In other words, the information about the real county of Lafayette would serve as inevitable resources of knowledge about fictional Yoknapatawpha. Or it would be easier for the readers to picture fictional characters moving around the fictional town of Jefferson, if they knew that the town looked almost exactly like Oxford, Mississippi. It is believed, therefore, that this map has facilitated the fundamental analogy of realism, particularly by presenting their graphic resemblance. Along with Chronology and Genealogy of the narrative also attached to the main body of the novel, the map seems to be expected to function as a navigational tool, so to speak, to the readers traveling around the imaginary world of all the other Yoknapatawpha novels of William Faulkner as well as Absalom, Absalom!.
Such an aspect of this map cannot be denied. This surely makes Yoknapatawpha as tangible as any other place. The question is, however, whether it is simply a tour guide, whether correspondence to the real place means most. We should be reminded that it is a map of an imaginary place, though it is not just another illustration to assist readers’ fancy for a magical spot like Treasure Island. What this map shows is a complex site of the mythical whole of the author’s fiction. It is also significant to recognize that it is a work of cartography by the author’s own hand and has intrinsic value as a map. There are some characteristic features of this map to note. First of all it is the map of a fictional land that is claimed to be owned by the author. Second, it is drawn by the author himself and shows that. And third, surveying and mapping is conducted by a particular sense of grasp on the world. The aim of my paper is to examine the map of Yoknapatawpha in the cartographical point of view, and to see what it really tells us. It will be less about the place represented than about the mapping of the world, about how the creative imagination of a novelist is exercised in a graphic mode.
The place called Yoknapatawpha has come to bear more significance than a mere fictional stage is expected to, because the novelist sets most of his works in this same place. It is surprising that so many different novels are successfully written on the same setting of a small, limited, and secluded spot that is populated mostly by the same people, though differently featured. The achievement of the novelist has transformed this small place to the mythical space in which the very source of meanings of William Faulkner’s fictional world is situated. It is believed that the close resemblance of this fictional space to the actual place is a key to the discovery of secrets of his creation, that it is crucial in reading to understand the relation between reality and fiction. In the famous Paris Review interview, Faulkner says:
In this small passage, which, as those famous monologues from Shakespeare, has been supplying numerous critical books on Faulkner with their title words, such seminal concepts as “my own little postage stamp,” “actual/apocryphal,” “a gold mine,” and “a cosmos of my own” seem to reveal the dynamics of how his imagination works, how the knowledge of a small, limited place in reality paradoxically has potential to develop into an indefinite range of fictional world.
Yoknapatawpha has become a figure of the dynamics, a place where every move of Faulkner’s creative imagination converges. A number of Faulkner critics have put a focus on this place. Malcolm Cowley attached an alternative version of the Yoknapatawpha map when he edited The Portable Faulkner and classified Faulkner’s fictional world into sections based mostly on geographical factors of the place. Cleance Brooks gave what would be regarded as the first systematic study of Faulkner’s works the subtitle “Yoknapatawpha Country.” The publications of Faulkner Conference from Mississippi University have been issued under the series title “Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha.”
There are extensive studies on the place itself. The most comprehensive of them would be Elizabeth Kerr’s Yoknapatawpha, in which the author is making a good use of Faulkner’s map. Comparing his map with that of the real county, Kerr claims that understanding the geographical and social features of Lafayette is indispensable to understanding Yoknapatawpha or the Faulkner world. She insists, however, that tracing the parallel is not to prove “Faulkner was a realist,” nor to assert “Yoknapatawpha County and Jefferson are merely Lafayette county and Oxford thinly disguised” (2). It is noticeable, however, that, while she speaks of “the map of Yoknapatawpha County superimposed on that of Lafayette County” (1), the illustrated map of “Faulkner’s Mississippi” shows the lines and contours of the real map darker and more prominent than the fictional, “superimposed” one. It reveals that her basic argument is to what extent the real is closer to the fiction. The concept of a map predominates over this book. Kerr classifies her account of the fictional county into four sections ― Jefferson, the Northwest, the Northeast, the Southwest (Frenchman’s Bend), and Periphery ― which are clearly based upon the cartographical, topographical division of the map.
The importance of the map, however, is not limited to a tool for the comparison of the real and the fictional. It is argued that the map also serves as Faulkner’s “global map” by suggesting that it helped him to re-cognize or re-conceive his plan. According to Kerr “[t]he Faulkner’s readers, the publication of the map of Yoknapatawpha County … marked Faulkner’s explicit recognition of the interrelationship of novels, and of Yoknapatawpha County as the geographical scene of his comedies and tragedies” (19). Similar observation is made by Michael Millgate: “the publication of the first Yoknapatawpha map in the first edition of Absalom, Absalom! seemed less the culmination of a developing process than … a way of insisting that all these new books and locations and characters could indeed find a place within the original pattern—or, at the very least, a place on the map” (36-7). The latter, in particular, conveys that the author needed a map to organize his own ideas to claim the unity of his world. A question remains why it had not been drawn until Absalom, Absalom! This must surely be linked with the fact that Chronology and Genealogy were also attached to the novel. We know at least that drawing of the map coincided with the time when Requiem for a Nun, which would view the whole history of Yoknapatawph, was drafted. Probably the time seemed right.
With its significance fully admitted, and in spite of these various critical interests in the relation between the map and Yoknapatawpha, there are very few who have made a close investigation of the map itself as a map. A recent essay by Joseph Urgo is titled “The Yoknapatawpha Project: The Map of a Deeper Existence,” but it is not really concerned with the map per se, either. For Urgo, Yoknapatawpha is “less a place than a perspective, less significant for mapping a landscape than for mapping a mode of consciousness” (639), and, although Yoknapatawpha is a place “on the map,” “phenomena designated Yoknapatawpha are so marked … to indicate a quality of human experience lost to conventional cartography” (642). What is important with the map drawn of the county, therefore, is less the map itself than something more like “cognitive” mapping of the place, in which the explanations of places and people related to those places in the map are more significant. It is true that the strangeness of these indexes, or captions, characterizes this map. It is through these indexes that we may understand the land as representation of the interior of people. But setting a place as congregation of people does not really mean that they “people its cartography” (647), nor does it explain how the interior of people is “projected” onto the map. Urgo uses a concept of the map only as a trope. A map can be a figure of every kind of configuration, but it must be analyzed in relation to the essence of maps in cartographical terms as well.
The idea of what maps are has been changing drastically in recent cartography. While the accuracy of survey has improved and the technology of drafting has progressed, map-drawing is becoming problematized not in its accuracy but in its figurativeness. In other words, the representational nature of maps is increasingly acknowledgeable. “Cartography is neither objective nor a science.... Cartography, it is argued, is more akin to literature than to astronomy or geophysics” (MacEachren 10). Maps are now no longer considered as the kind of knowledge that could attest truth. It is historically traced how arbitrarily maps were drawn, and yet how manipulatively they could be employed, often for some specific purposes. Beginning with a recognition that the map is “graphic language” (Harley 36) and “figurative image” (37), J. B. Harley develops in The New Nature of Maps the idea of “Maps as ‘knowledge as Power’” (55), based on Michel Foucault’s concept. “Some of the practical implications of maps” Harley suggests, “may also fall into the category of what Foucault has defined as acts of ‘surveillance,’ notably those connected with warfare, political propaganda, boundary making, or the preservation of law and order”(55). He explores what maps meant and how they functioned particularly at the encounter with new continents and other regions during the Age of Discovery or of Colonialism, in terms of making boundaries and controlling the territory. His understanding that “maps were arms as much as guns and warships” is worthy of attention in the context of Postcolonialist criticism.
A question that comes up in considering the pervasion of maps is why we draw maps, who draws them? No doubt a map provides us with visual knowledge of reality of a given area, and we draw maps because visual perception could facilitates the most direct and descriptive cognition. But this does not say anything about what kind of people need that particular visual cognition, who “cartographers” are, or what drawing a map means to those who make maps. Most of the cartographical accounts replace the origin of cartography with the purpose or motive of map drawing. In Understanding Maps J.S. Keates summarizes the formation of maps from the view point of communication theory into five different types of beneficiaries: users, the map producing companies who want to sell maps, cartographers who have to explain reality, scholars or scientists who utilize maps, and individuals who wish to express themselves by maps (133). Keates is unique in clarifying the vague idea of “map makers” by introducing the concept of “users,” and in insinuating that a map could be drawn for use and benefits, but this does not explain what maps could mean to their originators. Denis Wood says in The Power of Maps that the first motive of map-making is to keep records. There are records either temporarily ordered or spatially ordered, but the “spatially ordered information (such as land ownership, the number of ship in various fields belonging to different owners, and routes), which was recorded using logographic and pictorial means, tended toward what we recognize as maps” (42-3). Wood’s examples of “spatially ordered information” remind us of Harley’s claim that the motive of map making lies in the relation between knowledge and power:
Harley also argues that maps can function as “spatial panopticon” (165), and that they are able to serve as weapons of imperialism.
In other words, the map is the territory. The classical Map-Territory antithesis is the figure of the representational relationship, the contrast between theory and fact, or representation and reality.1 As the function of representation prevails, the old formula “Map is not Territory,” a view in which the map is not equivalent to the real land that it represents, turns into a new view “Map is Territory,” in which the land exists only when it is represented by a map. Furthermore, the relation between a map and land ownership that Wood refers to, or Harley’s idea of the map as “a codification of information about ownership” (62) suggests a political aspect of cartography in which a map not only represents a culture but can also imply conquest of one culture by another, as a proof of newly conquered ownership of a land. It is this view of map-territory relation that is dominant in Postcolonial criticism.
But we can assume as well that “Map is Territory” from a different perspective, that is, in terms of the intrinsic faculty of the map. Not all the maps may be related to power but they definitely involve control or order, though they are versatile in form. Since a map is regarded as a kind of “language,” it is generally used today as a figure of the representation of every configuration. It refers to any diagram of spatial arrangement or distribution from weather map, gene map, or electron density map, to the map of the computer memory. It represents not only the positional arrangement but also cognitive relation or logical allocation of things and ideas. To sum up, the map is an art of processing a space through “compilation, generalization, classification, formation into hierarchies, and standardization” of data, not limited to geographic. It is a form that enables us to gain an instant cognition of positions and relations through the schematically processed data. In this sense, a map means the ruling or controlling of knowledge. For a cartographer, therefore, to draw a map is to create a territory by showing the roads and the borders, and then literally to command the knowledge of the space. Thus “Maps as ‘knowledge as Power’” demonstrates the system of cognitive possession of space.
Literary Cartography has come to draw critical attention not only through the idea of the map as a kind of language, but also being stimulated by Fredrick Jameson’s proposition of “Cognitive Map” that conceptualizes social phenomena or cognitive structure as a network of relations. The increasing concern about nature, environment, landscape, and geography in literature has also contributed to the attention toward maps. Furthermore, the function of maps in travel, exploration or conquest is regarded as one of the crucial factors of the colonial scenes.
Jameson has proposed “Cognitive Map” to represent society, referring to Kevin Lynch’s idea of urban mapping in The Image of the City, and based on Althusser’s idea that ideology is representation of a subject’s imaginary relationship with reality. Jameson recognizes that grasping spatial relation is indispensable to understand modern society. He deems that, while maps cannot achieve truth however hard they try to represent reality by science or imitation, mental maps that have existed since ages before scientific cartography can now serve as an ideology, like Lacan’s Imaginary, to bridge the gaps between science and reality (51-4). This argument implicates that literature could function as a kind of cognitive maps. It is also assumed that writers are equipped with a mental map when they write even though minuteness or precision of the map varies.
Literary mapping is proposed in relation to cognitive science. It applies the method of cognitive science and the idea of cognitive maps to narratology or reading of a story, where the map is regarded as a figure of structural understanding of the narrative plot. Also how the narrative space could be mapped is put to the test. There is an article in Narrative Theory and the Cognitive Sciences that registers the investigation of how readers recognize the spatial arrangement of the scene of a story by assigning each of them to draw a map. Marie-Laure Ryan, questioning to what extent cognitive maps are related to graphic maps, tries to see if there is a connection between them that helps readers draw a map from the descriptions of scenes. What she is actually doing, however, is not the logical speculation but a psychological experiment, in which “the disparity and relative inaccuracy of the students’ sketches” suggests “the full complexity of the reading process” (234). She concludes after all that a graphic map drawn from the details in the story depicts the scene in a different way from the mental map would. While it is very hard to locate each point in the narrative map and the map is constantly subject to the new data, the mental map is always aware of the relation between the global vision of the plot and the cognition of details, constructing each scene without being bothered by contradictions. As a result, “[t]he readers may thus be perfectly able to imagine the story’s main episodes without precisely situating each event on a global map” (235). In other words, ironically, the graphical map is not always necessary for readers to read a story. “[P]eople read for the plot and not for the map, unless they are literary cartographers” (238).
Another example of the concept of mapping in literature is found in those “literary cartographers” of nature writings. “Literary cartography,” according to Rick Van Noy’s Surveying the Interior, “not only examines how maps function in literary texts (for example, as metaphors of possession), or how maps in themselves can tell a story, but also how literature can be used for cartographic means: to control, order, or limn a place” (3). Van Noy describes how actual cartographers, of which Henry David Thoreau is one, recognize the limit of their cartographical task and turn to literary representation to attain the interior of nature, and then sublimity. These “literary cartographers” are often real-life surveyors, users of maps, and cartographers, but the “scientific” maps they draw or use could already represent “literary” mind rather than science or geography.
But it is not the interior of nature alone that would be represented by those literary cartographers. In Walden is inserted a map of the pond drawn by Thoreau through his actual survey of the land. This map, or its draft version Van Noy shows in his book (58) more closely, bears a similarity to Faulkner’s map, with its crossing straight lines and hand-written letters, the latter of which, in Thoreau, includ the figures to indicate the depth of the pond and the hand-written letters of the notes. In Chapter 16, “The Pond in Winter,” Thoreau is surprised at the “coincidence” by which the longest lines of length and width of the pond cross each other at the deepest point of water. Surveying for him is a way to come close to the mystery of nature, and “the map is part of Thoreau’s dream of synthesizing things poetical and spiritual with things scientific and physical” (Van Noy 59).
Synthesizing poetry with science, however, alters the scientific nature of maps. It betrays the fundamentally fictional status of maps. It is less the literary interpretation of a scientific map than innovation of art of mapping. Poetics makes Thoreau’s map look like being drawn for that very purpose of synthesizing. In other words, it looks as if the lines were drawn and data were accumulated just for the sake of “coincidence.”2 It is by means of drawing the map the cartographer both creates and grasps the mystery of a land. Thoreau’s map reveals a modern cartographical view that scientific maps themselves have gone through substantial changes. What makes cartography possible here is not so much pursuit for scientific truth or even a wish to reach the knowledge of the sublime, as a desire for the knowledge of coherent space that maps would convey. As a survey map, it condenses a cartographer’s wish to ascertain scientifically undisclosed power and structure and to represent it exactly and explicitly. On the other hand, there can be detected a mechanism of producing knowledge by controlling the land and expressing it visually as a definite plot. It is precisely by this mechanism that Map becomes Territory, when even actual maps serve as ideology, as the cognitive map does. By their visual expressiveness and concrete spatiality, maps as graph make articulate tools of knowledge, so to speak — a happy combination of structure and its control.
Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha Map is inseparable from his literary works but it is not really what is called a literary map. It is more like Thoreau’s, a surveyor’s or cartographer’s map, and it is more worthy of being considered from the cartographical point of view. It is significant to note that the map is produced by Faulkner himself as a map maker and cartographer. This may be called “artistic” because it is even possible to regard it as a piece of art work accompanied with elaborate lettering and created by an artist who used to draw pictures as a diversion and produced an illustrated book. But the map is not an illustration to the novel to which it is attached. It is aesthetic, if any, as a piece of cartography.
After the first appearance of the map in Abasalom, Abaslom! in 1936, its revised version was attached to The Portable Faulkner, edited by Malcolm Cowley in 1946, followed by some different versions. 3 But I will discuss exclusively the original, “hand-written” map and see what else the map tells us than the analogy to Lafayette County. The topography of Yoknapatawpha the map represents is simple and symmetrical: between the two paralleling rivers in the North and the South two main roads intersecting at right angles along with other diagonal roads converging, just like the spokes of a wheel, upon the center of the town of Jefferson as the hub. Though it shows almost exactly the same graph as that of Lafayette, roads in Faulkner’s map are unrealistically devoid of curves, “the highway engineer’s dream roads straight as a plumbline,” while Lafayette maps show “no straight roads and no roads running due north, east, south, and west” (Kerr 35). There are no contour lines drawn to indicate the gradations of altitude. Only two patches of the land are marked off, roughly from the center to the east, and a part in the south west, as “Pine Hills.” They barely hint the different geographical features between Jefferson and Frenchman’s Bend down south near the Yoknapatawpha River.
Probably more characteristic than the topography of the place are the minute handwritten letters inscribed abundantly in the map. Among all the fictional maps of imaginary lands collected by Katharine Harmon in You Are Here (including Faulkner’s map), only few put handwritten letters as these. With the letters “N” reversed just as are peculiarly done by the author in his manuscripts, those inscriptions evidence and demonstrate the unarguable authorship of the map. Apparently these letters designate more than mere place names: they provide descriptions of each place. What makes this map unique is that it is neither a topographical, nor a “historical” map as Harmon suggests (183), but rather a “topological” one, a map of placement. It shows how major sites of each novel are distributed in this terrain and how each site is connected to each narrative and character. It not only locates those places but also explains what happened or who lived and acted there. It is a-historical because the events registered here belong to different periods, while it is historical only in the sense that stories told around those places comprise a history of the place. It is a topological map because what stand out here are not only the letters of legend but also the circles pointing places and the lines to connect the circles with the letters of description. No explanation is given to “HOLSTON HOUSE” or the BENBOW’S, but most of them are described, rather idiosyncratically. The jail is not just a jail but “JAIL WHERE GOODWIN WAS LYNCHED.” “JOHN SARTORIS’S STATUE AND EFFIGY” is “WHERE HE CAN WATCH HIS RAILROAD” and “CEMETARY” is “WHERE THEY BURIED ADDIE BUNDREN AT LAST.” Most of the places are as horrible crime sites as the jail: “FISHING CAMP WHERE WASH JONES KILLED SUTPEN,” “MISS JOANA BURDEN’S WHERE CHRISTMAS KILLED MISS BURDEN,” or “OLD FRENCHMAN PLACE … WHERE POPEY KILLED TOMMY.” Those comments suggest that what vividly characterize most of these houses and places are cruel activities of human beings. These places may imply what Urgo calls “deeper existence,” but, on the other hand, the effect of the map is apparently “to make [Faulkner’s] fictional world seem almost real, and to accent its grim, murderous nature” (Hermon 183).
Apart from cruelty, this is an unusual map. What can it tell us other than “grim, murderous nature” of the world? How “real” is it? How significant are all proper nouns? What is “Holston House”? Who is “Goodwin”? It is no doubt that the readers who take up Absalom, Absalom! as their first book by William Faulkner cannot figure out these names at all. Even after they have finished reading it, or for those who have read some of Faulkner’s novels, how many names would ring familiar? For it is not identified in which book those people or events appear. In fact the book titles themselves are not given at all. 4 Furthermore, even if those names were identified, how significant could it be that those particular events occurred on those particular spots in the fictional area?
Does this map really function as a tourist map, as is generally believed? There are five spots concerning As I Lay Dying marked on the map, the most among other novels: “BUNDREN’S,” “BRIDGE WHICH WASSHED AWAY…,” “TULL’S,” “ARMSTID’S,” “CEMETERY…,” and the road to Mottstown where “ANSE BUNDREN AND HIS BOYS HAD TO GO IN ORDER TO REACH JEFFERSON.” But how important is it to locate those places correctly on the map? It is true that the trip of the Bundrens for carrying Addie’s body to the cemetery follows a certain course. But as is evident in its comparison to a myth, the story is simple and the narrative mode is extremely formal and symbolic. It does not seem necessary to trace the exact route of the trip on the map. Nor does the map be of much help. It does not really explain why the Bundrens had to go all the way to Mottstown after dropping in at Armstid’s place. Incidentally, the location of Tull’s house is said to be wrong. To be questioned is if this map is first of all meant to give us the correct spatial information to help us understand the novel. The places related to Absalom, Absalom! to which the map is attached are “SUTPEN’S HUNDRED, 12 MI,” “CHURCH WHICH THOMAS SUTPEN RODE FAST TO,” “MISS ROSA COLDFIELD’S,” and that “FISHING CAMP.” Not only do they refer to mere fragments of the story, but it is hard to believe that their spatial arrangement, their lining up on the road to North West, means a great deal about the novel’s plot or structure.
It is doubtful that situating these places on the map help us understand each novel as a whole, if readers, as Ryan suggests about the cognitive maps, are “able to imagine the story’s main episodes without perfectly situating each event on a global map.” Or the map does not make a well-designed advertisement of the author’s past works, without giving any title of them. Only later scholars or researchers may be able to have a perspective to grasp the relations between the names, places, and events, to compare the fictional to the real, or even to measure the depth of characters’ existence, but it is impossible to believe that the map is made for those ends. The map rather seems to be made simply for the author himself. He needed a panorama of his own fictional world. Being distinctively compact and comprehensive, it characteristically displays Faulkner’s strategy to give literally a map-at-a-glance, gathering as many main characters and major places of his novel as possible, arranging them as neatly as possible, and mapping them in one picture. Such a strange caption as that of the road to Mottstown, “WHERE JASON COMPSON LOST HIS NIECE’S TRAIL, AND WHERE ANSE BUNDREN AND HIS BOYS HAD TO GO IN ORDER TO REACH JEFFERSON,” suggests how heterogeneous factors are conveniently and economically squeezed in.
It may be difficult to determine exactly what made Faulkner draw this Yoknapatawpha map, but we could at least speculate about what it could mean to him. It is often told that the map was drawn for the author himself to recognize the world of his creation. But he was very much informed of the place. On writing Sartoris, it occurred to Faulkner for the first time to make use of his home town and county as model. When Old Bayard is driven from the bank at the center of the town Jefferson back home to the Sartoris’, the landscape surrounding the route that can be traced on this map, accordingly, corresponds roughly to the landscape around Oxford, Mississippi. The map evidently shows that Faulkner equipped himself from the beginning of his writing Yoknapatawpha saga with a geographical space similar to his familiar region to utilize, but it does not necessary entail drawing a map for the scheme. Having a clear contour of the place or the knowledge of its geography does not directly lead to drawing its map. Mapping, however, does more. We must ask why the map is drawn even though the author is already acquainted with a clear contour of the place, and even when the chronology and the genealogy of the world are also established.
What is significant is that the map of Yoknapatawpha is a work of Faulkner as a cartographer, and that drawing a map does create a world. He did not draw a map of an existing place, but he created a place by mapping it. The map is made not to correspond his places to the actual geography, but to arrange and layout his own places. It is clearly stated, in the revised version of Portable, that the map is “surveyed & mapped for this volume by William Faulkner.” In this sense, too, this map is closely akin to the map of Walden Pond. Though this map, unlike Thoreau’s, does not allow to be read as a measure to reach the sublime or any other specific ideas, it must be involving the same desire as Thoreau might have cherished for obtaining the integrated space by drawing its chart.
It would be possible to regard the map of Yoknapatawpha as a kind of cognitive map. If a cognitive map can serve as an ideology to bridge the gaps between science and reality, literature could function as a kind of cognitive map. In a similar vein, the map of fictional Yoknapatawpha, even though it is not mental but visible, could function as a cognitive map between the reality of Lafayette and its map. Even if fictional, as Harley argues, any map is another cognitive map, and drawing a map can be ideological. In a sense this map has realized an ideological nature of cartography more expressly than the map of Walden in its fictionality. The ideology may not be directly political or territorial with a fictional map where you cannot confirm the truth in a scientific sense. Nor is it to the point to try to pull out some historical or cultural meanings directly from the map. Yet it cannot be benign any more than the map in Treasure Island. 6
The disquieting signature of the map “WILLIAM FAULKNER, SOLE OWNER AND PROPRIETOR” clearly expresses the interest in possession and territory. It may be a matter of course for the author of a fiction to claim the ownership of the fictional land as well as the work itself, and it may not be adequate to take the claim at face value as “territorial desire.”7 But still it is not unrelated to property and landholding. Map is Territory because the map tells the story of territory: the map shows that Yoknapatawpha established itself by acquiring (or stealing) the land and, consequently, that the fate of people is connected to the land. Moreover here Map is Territory in the sense that the author of the map rules the knowledge of the land and displays it precisely by drawing its map. By the map does the land take space, and people are allowed to inhabit it. The map then could function as graphical panopticon, policing the lives of the people. It is the map that made Faulkner the owner of the land.
It is hard to give a precise answer to the question why the map is attached to Absalom, Absalom! among other novels except the speculative one that time was just ripe. Here, however, is a marked reason for its alliance with Chronology and Genealogy of the novel. Since the people are connected to the land in Yoknapatawpha, to tell the story of the people is to tell the story of the land. The story of the land is told more effectively in terms of space as well as of time. Except Compson’s lost estate represented as an ominous rectangle in the revised version, each property is not shown as space in this map. Instead it is represented as a point and a line leading to the caption to describe the place. Accordingly Compson’s place is “COMPSON’S WHERE THEY SOLD THE PASTURE TO THE GOLF CLUB SO QUENTIN COULD GO TO HARVARD.” Incidentally, in Portable, it reads “Compson’s Mile for which Jason I swapped Ikkemotubbe a race horse & the last fragment of which Jason IV sold in order to become free.” Faulkner’s survey is conducted not by measuring and giving figures but by collecting those “vanishing points” where lands, houses, or lives of the people are lost and onto which the relations between the land and people are focused, in other words, by the “figures” of his novelistic world. Thus he manages to refer to most of the major characters of his works (up till Absalom ) in connection, sometimes almost awkwardly, with those places. Each place is not represented as space probably because Yoknapatawpha is the land which Native Americans are robbed of and which is now about to be lost again.
What is more remarkable about the map is that it articulates that the land is “in fact” the possession of the author of the map. He might have wanted to retrieve the lost terrain in a symbolic way. On the other hand, the map clearly serves as Faulkner’s inventory of property. Map is Territory, however, not simply because of that inscription of ownership but because of the relation between the owner/cartographer and the intrinsic faculty of a map. The map enables Faulkner to display Yoknapatawpha as the whole of the knowledge the author should grasp about the land. It is not exactly true that he made more of the saga whole than each individual work, but it must have been crucial for him to understand the relation between the individual novels and the overall vision, as long as these novels share the same setting. Faulkner’s ingenious method of constructing a novel by assembling different episodes or stories requires recognition of the relation between the part and the whole, which entails the concepts of arrangement and composition.
Yet the map is more than a mere reminder or memorandum of his existing world. The map can create the world. It is evident that Faulkner was well aware of the importance of such functions of a map as “compilation,” “classification,” or “formation into hierarchies,” for establishing an order, intertwining various characters and various episodes into a unitary history. The map clearly provides a perspective of the narrative world. Each of Faulkner’s six novels is allotted to one of the quarters on the map defined, as in Kerr’s Yoknapatawpha, by the crossing roads with Jefferson at the center. The marks of the map show that The Sound and the Fury and Light in August focus on the center, the town. Sartoris is set in North West. Sanctuary and As I Lay Dying is situated in South East, while Absalom, Absalom! in North East. Faulkner must have distributed the narratives one by one on each part of the land, with a spoke-like roads and partitions of the land in mind. Moreover the difference of areas, each roughly corresponding to a class division, represents the dynamics of historical changes. The road runs directly from Frenchman’s Bend via Varner’s to the bank at the center of the town shows a panoramic picture of the history of Jefferson Faulkner must have imagined, which is also epitomized in the caption “OLD BAYARD SARTORIS’S BANK, WHICH BYRON SNOPES ROBBED WHICH FLEM SNOPES LATER BECAME PRESIDENT OF. The odd combination of Sartoris’s statue and the graveyard where Addie Bundren is buried also implies the consequence of interaction between the different classes and different areas, the move along that road. It is this move, transference, that lies in the root of Faulkner’s sense of history. After Absalom, Absalom!, as if following this order, the narratives shift the sites from South to previously vacant North East as well as the central Jefferson.
This feature of the map has much bearing on the nature of Faulkner’s novels, in its spatial representation of time. The map may not look much meaningful without Chronology or Genealogy, but, disregarding these, it visualizes time as well as space in itself, as is registering the history of the land and tracing the travel of the Bundrens or the rise of the Snopeses. Not only does the map betray the author’s obsession with time, it also epitomizes the essence of his novel-writing, his awareness of a feature of writing as spatialization of time, the “was/is” juxtaposition and antithesis. Another remarkable fact is that at the center of the graph, and therefore at the intersecting point of lines, sits the courthouse, just like the gravity point of Thoreau. The geographical importance of the building, which is evolved from the jailhouse and symbolizing, as an actual panopticon, the preservation of order, suggests how gravely the problem of law and justice is at stake in Faulkner’s world. Noel Polk must have this map in mind when he says that the courthouse is “the actual and metaphorical center, the hub, of Faulkner’s created world” (159). The building “WHERE TEMPLE DRAKE TESTIFIED” will soon be described in Requiem for a Nun that re-features her, as the historic symbol not only of Yoknapatawpha but also of Mississippi and the South as a whole.
It is now evident that mapping is not just portraying an area but representing the relation between the area and the world (mappa mundi). It might have been the relation between the area and the cosmos for Faulkner, for, no matter how small its size is, Yoknapatawpha is meant to be capable of developing into the universal. Strange enough, Faulkner never uses a word that would mean a land or a region, except an extremely down-scaled “little postage stamp,” in the previously mentioned Paris Review interview. This stamp of “soil” is abruptly metamorphosed, in terms of “sublimating the actual into apocryphal” into a “cosmos” of his own. At the end of this interview excerpt, the author compares himself to God and develops a-historical theory of time before he concludes the interview:
This presents a kind of bird-eye view that Faulkner has elaborated. It is the map of Yoknapatawpha that spatializes and visualizes the concept of a mythical soil and the power of this God. And, as hinted before, the “was/is” antithesis intimates that the map is also a graphic representation of “was” suppressed by “is,” or “is”ing of “was,” or “writing.”
One question remains: Why is the South Western part of the map left un-filled? The room might have been made for the very signature of “SOLE OWNER & PROPRIETOR,” the declaration that the map of Yoknapatawpha is one of the “Maps as ‘knowledge as Power.’”
1 Cf. Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity (1933).
2 In the draft of the map, on the right side of the lake, is a cross to indicate four directions. There is instead an arrow to show South (toward “True Meridian”) in the map printed in the book. The angles of two lines are slightly different, with the latter alone parallel to the survey line of the pond. According to the present-day map, the latter, the book version map, is correct. In the draft, the lake itself is positioned incorrectly, which may make us suspect the unreliability of the survey.
3 In the first edition of The Portable Faulkner, the map copied Faulkner’s hand written letters, but in the later editions they were replaced by printed ones. The Portable map not only includes fewer places or different captions than the Absalom map, but also adds the titles of the novels that are set on the particular sections of the county. Among those omitted in the latter are “Pine Hills,” both lines and names, and, most remarkably, the inscription of ownership. In Roan Oak is left a handwritten, comprehensive map in which are apparently inscribed further extensive data than Absalom and Portable put together. This map looks geographically more like the original map than in Portable.
4 The titles are given in the Portable Faulkner edition. See above, n.3.
5 Cf. James G. Watson (150)
6 Hugh Brogan, in Harmon’s You Are Here, says that the “device of a map to excite and assist readers’ fancy … is a comparatively recent invention” but “it is probably not a coincidence that the magic of maps was first exploited when the British Empire was at its height.” And “Treasure Island looks back joyously to one moment in the rise of the empire” (150-1).
7 Referring to the map of Pennsylvania in Jefferys’s American Atlas dedicated to “Thomas Penn and Richard Penn Esquires” “as the “True and Absolute Proprietaries & Governors of the Province of Pennsylvania,” Harley points out that these words “belong to the language of authority in eighteenth-century English” and they “epitomized the relevance of the concepts of right and of land ownership … to the colonial world” (136). Faulkner’s wording resembles it.
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Polk, Noel. “’I taken an Oath of Office Too’: Faulkner and the Law.” Fifty Years of Yoknapatawpha: Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha 1927. Eds. Doreen Fowler and Ann J. Abadie. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1980. 159-178.
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Urgo, Joseph R. “The Yoknapatawpha Project: The Map of a Deeper Existence.” Mississippi Quarterly. 57(4) (2004): 639-55.
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Copyright (c) 2007 Sanae Tokizane