To elevate his stories above the regional setting of the American South into the realm of universal human experience, Faulkner, like other writers of his generation, employed a narrative strategy that T. S. Eliot identified as "the mythical method," which, as Eliot explained, establishes a parallel between a contemporary story and an old, familiar myth or narrative. The most famous example of the technique, the one cited by Eliot in his definitive essay on the practice, is James Joyce's Ulysses, which ironically places the actions of Leopold Bloom, set in Dublin in 1904, within the framework of the heroic deeds of Ulysses, the legendary warrior in Homer's The Odyssey. Other well-known uses of the mythical method can be found in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, which connects the westward migration of the Okies during the 1930s to the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt. That this way of telling a story has continued beyond Faulkner's generation is demonstrated by Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, a modernization of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (itself based in part on Dante's Inferno), for example.

Faulkner's fondness for incorporating older myths and narratives into his stories is evident in his use and reuse of the initiation and journey motifs; biblical materials, particularly the Eden and Christ stories; and Shakespearean allusions. Like other practitioners of the mythical method, Faulkner employs all such retellings and paralleling of previous stories to imply a cyclical view of history and a commonality of human nature and experience. Like the geographical map he drew of his fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Faulkner's map of the human condition begins in Jefferson (the South) but it leads outward to the larger world, "the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed—love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice."


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