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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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Supernatural Authorities

Supernatural Authorities

Chapter:
(p.107) 3 Supernatural Authorities
Source:
Otherworlds
Author(s):

Aisling Byrne

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198746003.003.0004

This chapter discusses the validating power of the supernatural within a narrative. It pays particular attention to the manner in which depictions of the otherworld address ideas of kingship and succession in a group of related Irish narratives. It then proceeds to an analysis of the role of Avalon within the Arthurian tradition and the political impact of the notion of Arthur’s return. Finally, it considers how the popular story of Alexander the Great’s journey to the Earthly Paradise represents both the summit and the limit of his achievements. These texts highlight the ways in which otherworld narratives engage actively and creatively with historical (usually political) reality.

Keywords:   power, sovereignty, kingship, death, Baile in Scáil, Avalon, Arthur, Gilbert Hay, Alexander the Great, Earthly Paradise

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