Sunday, February 25th 2018    |   

The Land of Poictesme

Friday, April 11, 2008   |   Literature
This is a land of Mr. Cabell's own invention, the geography of which is hopelessly mixed, since it draws on many realms of the earth and several of the imagination for its component parts. In the earlier romances it is simply somewhere on the map of Europe; in books dealing with a later time it is placed definitely within the boundaries of France. Two maps of Poictesme exist:
  • View: The map drawn by Cabell himself
    (appeared in James Branch Cabell, by Carl Van Doren)

  • View: The map drawn by Frank C. Papé
    (for the illustrated edition of The Silver Stallion)

Cabell explains the origin of the name "Poictesme" in a short piece called "A Note About Poictesme" which first appeared in the large-paper illustrated edition (1926 or '28, I forget which) of The Silver Stallion, and is reprinted in volume 18 of the Storisende Edition. At any rate, he tells us that it is a portmanteau word a word made by combining two other words, like breakfast + lunch = brunch. In this case it is the name of two provinces in France, Poictiers and Angoulesme, which are combined. Not as interesting as some of the anagrams, perhaps, but there are the bald facts.

A page at the Virginia Commonwealth University Library notes that "Poictesme" is pronounced "Pwa-tem".