Fairy Tale Friday: Imaginary Places

November 27, 2009 at 12:00 am 2 comments

One of my favorite books (and one which I am thankful for, on an incidental but timely sidenote), is Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi’s The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. If you are ever bored, just randomly delve into this book and discover such places that are “just around the corner of your mind” and where “reality is an intruder.” It is a literally fantastic book.

To compile their dictionary, Manguel and Guadalupi painstakingly combed literature for all the places authors have made up over the years. As the back cover has it, the dictionary covers “from Atlantis to Xanadu” and those are really just two of the less interesting examples. Also included in the dictionary are Paflagonia, Hollin, Blokula, and the Valley of Voe. (If you can identify these places already, you are far more well-read than I and may not need to look at this book after all.)

And the book’s breadth is not its only selling point. As fans of Manguel will undoubtedly have guessed, the writing is also absolutely perfect. It walks the line between scholarly and silly perfectly, taking its subjects as seriously as any author of a “real” encyclopedia, but still managing to produce a book of great whimsy. One entry for a particularly well-known castle begins: “HOGWARTS, a school of witchcraft and wizardry, somewhere in England.” It then continues, “Visitors taken on a tour will be guided through a vast hall…Thanks to a clever spell, the ceiling looks like the sky outside; it is hard to believe that the hall does not open onto the heavens” (291).

So next time you’re planning a vacation to the isles of the imaginary, I highly recommend this dictionary. Even if you’re just enjoying a day at home spent in your own imaginings this book will surely help guide you to a wonderful imaginary location.

On a related note, if you’re seeking further published proof of your favorite fairy or mythic castle, definintely seek out the Encyclopedia of Things that Never Were by Michael Page and Robert Ingpen. It is similarly amazing and far more beautifully illustrated.


Entry filed under: Fairy Tale Friday, Fantasy. Tags: , , , .

Discussion Post: Beowulf Book trailers?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kim  |  November 29, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    This sounds really cool. I’ve added it to my to-read list! =]

    • 2. Corey  |  November 30, 2009 at 5:28 am

      You definitely should; it’s fascinating!


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