Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


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, along the Mediterranean Sea’s Gulf of Lions. Poictesme corresponds geographically with France’s modern district of Gard, overlapping Herault and Bouches-Du-Rhone. Poictesme is a central location in many of the novels in James Branch Cabell’s eighteen-volume The Biography of the Life of Manuel, of which Jurgen is a part. It is a pleasant country of fields, mountains, and forests (some haunted), and walled cities with castles, including Storisende (“story’s end”), the capital.

Cabell based Poictesme partially on country resorts in Virginia where he passed time as a young man among the elegant gentry of the South.

Garden Between Dawn and Sunrise

Garden Between Dawn and Sunrise. Place inhabited by the illusions of youth and idealistic love, including Dorothy La Désirée, sister of the ruler of Poictesme, as she was when Jurgen first loved her. The garden reflects Cabell’s ambivalence toward the vision of the eternal feminine glimpsed by naïve, adoring love: It is a necessary ideal, humankind’s window to transcendence, as well as a great deal of fool nonsense.

Amneran Heath

Amneran Heath. Unwholesome and magical place, with an entrance to a troll’s cave. At the end of the book, Jurgen finds Koshchei—the creator of the world—at the back of the cave, working in a small office; however, he gets no satisfactory explanations of life or of himself from the dim and overbusy creator.


Cameliard (kah-MEEL-yard). Capital of Glathion, the realm modeled on...

(The entire section is 742 words.)