Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Terralba

*Terralba. Village on the west coast of the Mediterranean island of Sardinia at the time of the Crusades. At the conclusion of The Cloven Viscount, the adolescent narrator misses his chance to set sail with his tutor, Dr. Trelawney. Although Trelawney is sailing with the historical Captain James Cook, he is also a character from Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island (1883). Ultimately, Trelawney’s departure represents the loss of childhood adventure stories, and the imaginary spaces of literature more generally, and the narrator is left behind in the real world of “responsibilities” and disappointing “will-o’-the-wisps.”

Forest

Forest. Woods surrounding the fictional Ombrosa in Northern Italy during the Enlightenment in The Baron in the Trees. The woods ultimately extend over much of Europe, permitting Cosimo, who has decided to live in the trees, to range freely over the continent, where he meets characters both literary and historical. His arbitrary decision to live in the trees represents a desire to find a utopia, a true harmony between humanity and nature. At the end of the novel, however, the narrator wonders if this idyllic forest ever existed at all or was merely a tangle of fantasy, like his own story, indeed, like the words on the very page he is writing.

Convent

Convent. Nunnery located somewhere in chivalric Europe in The Non-existent Knight. Sister Theodora recounts the often parodic story of famous figures from chivalric romances, such as Emperor Charlemagne and the woman warrior Bradamante. The implicit contrast throughout the novel is between the open space of Europe—filled with epic adventure—and the closed, literary space of the convent, where Theodora writes as a penance. At the novel’s end, this division is neatly undone when Theodora reveals that she is Bradamante, and the division between the two spaces collapses as she dedicates herself to the possibilities the future may hold.