In centennial celebration of Faulkner's birth, a photographic record of the land he turned into legend.
this memorable collection of black-and-white photographs focuses on William Faulkner's homeland, which his great corpus of fiction transformed into Yoknapatawpha County. Martin J. Dain made them in Mississippi during the last two years of Faulkner's life (1961-62). They evoke the wonderful spirit and exactitude of the land and the people Faulkner wrote about. Most first appeared in Dain's Faulkner's County: Yoknapatawpha (1964), which has been out of print for many years and in high demand among Faulkner admirers everywhere. Faulkner's World, published now in celebration of Faulkner's centenary, includes several pictures that were not in Dain's earlier book.
It was the photographer's reverence for the writings of the Nobel Prize-winning author that stimulated him to travel to Faulkner country with his camera. "All my life I had been reading Faulkner," he says, "and you mature along with your reading and discover this man has said and known everything that's worth knowing and saying in your entire life.
In the introduction to Faulkner's World, Dain tells the photographer Tom Rankin of his relationship with Faulkner and his extensive travels in Mississippi as he took the photographs.
For the acclaimed novelist Larry Brown, who lives in Faulkner's home town and who has written the foreword for Faulkner's World, Dain's photographs evoke Brown's own past-"another time in the place I still call home." Brown's world was the world of Faulkner, although he was only ten when Faulkner died. "Stepping back into the past," Brown writes, "is like entering a dream world that once was real but now is gone, the faces faded and dulled by time in the memory....You remember the old people you used to talk to and you wish you could talk to them one more time. You know how valuable that was now."
To Brown, Dain's photographs "preserve old times and people in the best and most satisfying ways. They can never fade away now, cannot slide back into memory and be forgotten forever."
In the nearly four decades since Dain made this rare
photographic record of Yoknapatawpha, his images have
become familiar icons. They have made the old, enduring
landmarks of Faulkner country visible for all of us.
Martin J. Dain, a native of Massachusetts, lives in Carmel Valley, California. Tom Rankin, a professor at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, is the photographer and author of Sacred Space: Photographs from the Mississippi Delta (University Press of Mississippi).
112 pp., 100 duotone photographs