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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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Imagining Otherworlds

Imagining Otherworlds

(p.25) 1 Imagining Otherworlds

Aisling Byrne

Oxford University Press

This chapter develops an initial reading of otherworld encounters that highlights their role within the texts in which they are embedded, rather than their relationship to the historical context in which they are imagined. This chapter explores how authors use various techniques to construct internally consistent fantastical realms that provide an incentive for the audience to ‘make-believe’. Otherworlds do not function as discrete units within the fictional text; rather, the interaction between the primary historical world, the secondary world of the narrative, and the ‘tertiary’ otherworld drives the plot and allows the author’s central concerns and themes to be unpacked. The chapter includes discussions of a series of themes frequently associated with otherworld: gender, desire, and death.

Keywords:   romance, reality effect, gender, desire, death, Marie de France, Sir Orfeo, Reinbrun, Amadas et Ydoine, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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