Borneo (Location Key)


Borneo is a large island nation off the coast of southeast Asia that plays a small and very marginal role in the Yoknapatawpha fictions because of its fabled, not to say stereotypical association with head-hunting. In Absalom! this connection provides a metaphorical point-of-reference: Clytemnestra's "body just grew smaller and smaller like something being shrunk in a furnace, like the Bornese do their captured heads" (175). That's the only time it was mentioned in the published fictions during Faulkner's lifetime, but when Joseph Blotner edited Faulkner's Uncollected Stories - our source for many of the texts in Digital Yoknapatawpha - he restored to his version of "Vendee" a passage from Faulkner's typescript of the story, in which Bayard Sartoris mentions "a book at home about Borneo" to explain how he and Ringo knew what to do to skin Grumby and nail his 'hide' to the wall of the cotton compress where he killed Granny (115). Blotner doesn't explain his reasons for adding it, but since he did, we include it in our database - and although at first it does seem to perpetuate a stereotype of the 'savage,' it's significant that the person who is imitating the practice is Bayard Sartoris, a son of the aristocratic 'civilization' of the Old South. ("Bornean" appears as an adjective in "An Error in Chemistry," where the character who calls himself Joel Flint is a former circus performer and carnival worker whose resume includes impersonating a "Bornean wild man" in a traveling side show (134); although not rising to the level of a 'Location' in our terms, this third reference may indicate how widespread the cultural fascination with 'Borneo' was - or could be further evidence of a particular predisposition on Faulkner's part.)

Display Name: 
Sort Name: 

Linked Locations