I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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Literary frontier jails– B. Traven and William Faulkner

Ben’s remark about Requiem for a Nun drove home for me how strong the similarities are between the description of the frontier jail in Jefferson is to the jail B. Traven describes in the first of his Jungle Novels, Government.

You may be somewhat familiar with Traven from his novel Treasure of the Sierra Madre (or perhaps the John Huston movie staring Humphrey Bogart).  That novel is one of a large body of work.  In the thirties, Traven wrote a series of novels about the Mexican Revolution, the Jungle novels.  Here’s his account, from the first of the Jungle novels, Government, of the construction of a jail in a Indian community in the years just before the Mexican Revolution:

The door of the prison was made of roughly hewn planks, which were fitted together without nails.  The grating consisted of heavy pieces of wood, cut out at the intersections so they fit into one another.  Each opening was wide enough for a prisoner to put his head through if he wanted to.

The door had no lock.  There was an iron staple on the door-post, so emaciated by rust that it seemed to have galloping consumption.  If anyone had put a stick through this staple and given it a twist, it would have yield up  the ghost with a faint crack and been of no further use in this world or the next.

There was a chain looped around the bar of the grating nearest the doorpost.  It suffered from the same tubercular complaint as the staple.  Its links were so eaten away with rust that any of them could have been crusthed between the finger and thumb.

A padlock was passed through the last link of the chain and the staple.  The lock did not work, for its mechanism was rusted and immovable, but that did not enter into the question, for don Gabriel had no key.  When he shut a prisoner in he merely lowered the hoop of the padlock as far as it would go.  Since the works of the lock had long since fallen out of the race, there was no click to show that it had gone home.  When don Gabriel released a prisoner he simply raised the hoop of the padlock.

This really brought to mind the account of the settlement of Jefferson and the Square in William Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun, where notorious bandits are caught and placed in the.. Continue reading Literary frontier jails– B. Traven and William Faulkner

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How Separate But Equal Worked– Some photos from Holly Springs

Ten years or so ago, someone at the Holly Springs school was cleaning a store-room and discovered a display of photographs of the schools in the system in October of 1955. These pictures now hang in the front part of the central offices of the school district.

That was five months after Brown II, […]

The Wall Street Journal on “Faulkner for Sale”

Update: Have made direct links to the story (without a paywall barrier) 

The Friday Wall Street Journal devoted almost two full pages, beginning on the front of the Arena section, to a story headlined “Faulkner for Sale,” about the efforts by Lee Caplin as agent for the estate to market literary […]

Acqusitions: Chris Offutt and friend

Wandering through the Delta

 

 

Depicted above:  John Hurt’s grave on the Choctaw Ridge near Avalon, Mississippi; the Shamoun’s family restaurant in Clarksdale, the Resthaven; the Riverside Hotel, a blues landmark in Clarksdale, where Bessie Smith died, and any blues or gospel singer you know who passed through Clarksdale from […]

Well, imagine that.

Depicted above:  A Japanese hovercraft making an amphibious landing of infantry near San Diego, California, training with U.S. Marines.  More here.  H/t Lawyers Guns and […]

Watch Dean Faulkner Wells on MPB tomorrow at 8:30

I will let her husband Larry tell the basics, but I want to emphasize how fine this interview is. If you have any interest in Faulkner, literature, or local history… actually, its just a great interview. Highly recommend. Here is the deal–

Watch Mississippi Public Broadcasting tomorrow night (Thurs 8:30 pm) for “Homage to […]

On Jackson Avenue

Parked on Jackson Avenue by the Eagle office, across from the Federal Court. Maybe they drove up from Vicksburg for the Faulkner conference.

Alternate title: the past’s fiction is not made up, it’s driving around in Jefferson.

Wednesday Morning Various

They have found the ruins of a 16th Century Spanish fort in Western North Carolina, almost to the Smokies. What’s a pilcrow?  Now you have a word for it. If you use Facebook, and check messages, have you noticed that greyed out link that says “Other”?  This New York Times blog entry explains […]