Poictesme (PWA-tem). Imaginary medieval French realm whose name is derived from the cities of Poictiers (modern Poitiers) and Angoulesme (modern Angoulême), although it lies in the south of France, along the Mediterranean coast, on the Gulf of Lions. It corresponds geographically to the modern district of Gard, overlapping Herault and Bouches-Du-Rhone. It is a central location in many works of James Branch Cabell’s eighteen-volume Biography of the Life of Manuel (1927-1930), the story of the pig-keeper who ruled Poictesme and of how his “life” continued on for twenty-odd generations of descendants.
Based in part on country resorts in Virginia where Cabell passed time as a young man, Poictesme is a pleasant country of fields, forests, and mountains. Among its walled cities and castles is the capital, Storisende, the home of Manuel’s heirs. They hold Poictesme in feudal bond from Horvendile, an immortal demiurge, who may be senior to the creator of the world. Horvendile is also, however, the alter ego of Felix Kennaston, the author of the fiction in which Horvendile appears at the beginning of the book. But it is not clear if Horvendile is Kennaston’s representative or Kennaston Horvendile’s, nor is it clear if Poictesme is purely a fancy of Kennaston’s or if, in his world, it is a historical place. He calls it the “one possible setting for a really satisfactory novel,” but he himself is a descendant...
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