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OtherworldsFantasy and History in Medieval Literature$
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Aisling Byrne

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198746003

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198746003.001.0001

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Archipelagic Otherworlds

Archipelagic Otherworlds

Chapter:
(p.141) 4 Archipelagic Otherworlds
Source:
Otherworlds
Author(s):

Aisling Byrne

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198746003.003.0005

Political uses of otherworld imagery are most clearly visible in texts that rewrite actual world locations as otherworlds. This rewriting is by no means limited to accounts of remote and unexplored corners of the world. Some medieval writers do this when describing locations like Britain, Ireland, and the surrounding islands, such as the Isle of Man. This chapter refigures the relationship scholars have traditionally ascribed to the historical world and the fictive otherworld. Rather than seeing the narrative otherworld as merely a reflection of known or postulated historical beliefs, this chapter foregrounds the force and influence of fantastical otherworld descriptions by illustrating how frequently and effectively imagery associated with them was applied in treatments of the history and geography of actual locations.

Keywords:   islands, mappae mundi, the West, peripherality, Eden, Gerald of Wales, Lebor Gabála, Of Arthour and of Merlin, Isle of Man, The Turke and Sir Gawain

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