The Dictionary of Imaginary Places
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Dictionary of Imaginary Places

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  758 ratings  ·  51 reviews
A guide to more than 1,200 cities, islands, countries, and continents invented by writers and storytellers from Homer's day to the present. Over 250 black-and-white illustrations.
Paperback, 454 pages
Published September 1st 1987 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P (first published 1980)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,402)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Rob
Sep 25, 2010 Rob rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rob by: John; Creighton
More of a novelty than anything else, the Dictionary of Imaginary Places is just that... a big fat alphabetized compendium of places that exist only in legends and myths and novels and other stories. It's the kind of book that aspiring novelists put on their coffee tables to impress other aspiring hipster novelists.

"What's with all those sticky notes and penciled in remarks?"

"Oh, you know. Research. Annotations."

"And this whole sheet stuffed in there?"

"I was trying to see what it would look like...more
Megan Vaughan
Sep 04, 2007 Megan Vaughan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!
This is an absolutely fabulous book for anyone of any age. If you're capable of letting your mind wander to far off and completely fictional places, you'll be entranced immediately. Its the kind of thing you read a few pages of before bed to ensure charming and enchanting dreams.
Chris
I fell upon this book when it was first published like a punter attacking an ice-cream during the interval in an over-hot theatre. Just the title had me drooling, and once inside the book I was in seventh heaven. First of all it took places described in a range of literary works as literally true by giving each a Baedeker-style travel guide entry. Then, like any good Baedeker it provided maps and charts giving visual aids to familiar and unfamiliar locations. There have been at least two revised...more
Branduno
I first got the 1987 edition of this book as a gift from my uncle in the mid-nineties, and it has since been one of my favorite volumes to idly peruse. Though it contains lengthy entries on the most frequently visited of imaginary places, such as Middle-earth, Earthsea, and Oz, its entries on less familiar regions such as Sylvia Townsend Warner's Kingdoms of Elfin are welcome, and this updated edition includes such recently-explored places as Hogwarts and Neverwhere.

This work was my first introd...more
Hannah
I'm so tickled by the existence of this book. The title pretty much sums it up - this is an encyclopedia of imaginary places ranging from the fantastical (Middle Earth, Narnia, Wonderland) to the more realistic (Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe's island, Xanadu). In fact, this dictionary is worth looking at just for the extensive descriptions of Middle Earth and Narnia.

The authors treat every location as though it actually exists, which is part of the fun of reading it. There are also some wond...more
Marvin
Nov 01, 2009 Marvin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any one who has an imagination.
Shelves: fantasy
One of my favorite books for browsing. An inexhaustible index of imaginary lands in literature from The Grand Duchy of Fenwick to Burrough's Pellucidar to Carroll's Wonderland. Many entries are illustrated with maps and all come with detailed descriptions of the lands. The fact that the writers treat these entries like they are real places that you may travel to, simply lends a delightful air in the enjoyment of this book. I've had this book since its first publication in 1987 and I never fail t...more
Douglas Summers-Stay
It's not really a dictionary; some parts are written like a tour guide, others more of an atlas. The entries describe locations from fantasy novels, from Gulliver's travels through Harry Potter. I noticed it included a few of Calvino's invisible cities, and some lands that Borges described, which is appropriate for such a Borgesian enterprise. The maps and illustrations are well done. It's a fun way to browse for new things to read. If you're willing to put up with an older edition (no Hogwarts)...more
Artur Coelho
Feb 12, 2014 Artur Coelho is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Nesta era em que cada milímetro quadrado do planeta está mapeado com rigor, observado pelo olhar lenticular dos satélites em órbita, cada recanto registado pelas suas coordenadas no espaço abstracto dos meridianos e paralelos, fotografado nos espectros do infravermelho ao ultravioleta, calcorreado por exploradores, aventureiros ou servos de gigantes tecnológicos apostados em digitalizar o planeta, traçado em atlas e mapas pixelizados, precisamos talvez mais do que nunca de espaços desconhecidos,...more
Amelia, the pragmatic idealist
This book is absolutely amazing, it is insightful, and it is a must-have for anyone attempting to write fantasy. included are:
- mythical places like Valhalla and Hades
- classical locations like Thomas More's Utopia, the places in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels...
- EVERYWHERE in the Middle Earth universe! (that alone deserves 5 stars)
- and recent locations, like J.K. Rowling's Hogwarts!!!

Ohhh and the pictures are wonderful, too!
Jeremy
This is an entertaining read, great fun. It's not anywhere near exhaustive, though, which is understandable given the subject matter. The authors try to cover all of the major imaginary worlds in literature, and world literature at that, not just anglophone. Maybe it would be good to have several different volumes, each one devoted to a different nation or language.
Denis
The perfect dictionary for anyone who's a dreamer. You don't need to be a fantasy or sci-fi fan (I'm not) to appreciate this astonishing book, which opens the doors to a myriad of imaginary places you wish you could go right now. The depth of the author's knowledge is breathtaking, and he writes about those places in the most delightful way.
Mike
I certainly haven't read all of this voluminous book. It’s somewhat akin to reading and reviewing an encyclopedia, which is precisely what this book is. I was pleased to find the entries on places I’ve already read of in books, but I’m most excited about the prospect of discovering new books to read by referencing them in this book.
Michael
A pretty interesting (and international!) compendium of imagined worlds. Not exactly complete by any means, even for the most recent update (1999), but still fun to poke through. Definitely worth the $9.99 I originally paid for it off the Waldenbooks bargain pile.
Terence
An interesting, if quirky, volume. While many mainstays of fantasy are represented -- Tolkien, Baum, etc. -- many entries are of obscure 18th and 19th century European authors who very few have heard of.
Ed
So fascinating to find places that had only existed in books to be sometimes very well mapped out and have a substantial history. This book made me want to search out the stories that some of these places were based on.
So, it made me want to read more.
I like that.
Jeremy S.
this was a magical find for me years ago and it's uniqueness in the world of giant reference books is begging for me to get an updated version in hard back.

there exists one other giant tome in the category of fantasy literature. while it contains more granular information, Imaginary Places stands as a more playful resource. plenty of maps, drawings and geographical information can be looked up about Mordor, Oz and many other places.

Make sure you have plenty of room on your bookshelf, because I...more
Rachel
Unprecedented, witty, and utterly delightful, this encyclopedia of magical worlds uses a tongue-in-cheek, tour guide sensibility combined with a genunine love for its source material, which together are incredibly effective. It remains equally engaging whether flipped through at one's leisure or read straight through, and also serves as a enlightening survey of the worlds we create, over centuries. Much can be said about humans by looking at their Utopias and Dystopias, and the proliferation of...more
Marna Carlozzi
Loved this book when I was younger and love having it to share with my child.
Peter DiCicco
May 09, 2007 Peter DiCicco rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bookworms; fantasy buffs
Shelves: fantasy, mythology
This is just a fun reference guide to a nearly endless list of imagined places. It sticks pretty strictly to literature and mythology (because, seriously, the editors would be researching it forever otherwise), so no Fortress of Solitude or Galaxy Far, Far Away. You can't have everything. I spent hours flipping through it when I first got it and still do on occasion. There aren't many places where you can easily flip back and forth between compendiums of knowledge on the Land of Oz and Middle-Ea...more
Espen Helgesen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kellie
Wonderful book including details of a plethora of fictional places we read about every single day. Included copious maps of places like Oz, Middle Earth, Atlantis and soo many more obscure mythical places. This book hasn't been updated in a while, but I keep my copy around for nostalgia and also the articles on the fictitious cities are very informative not to mention entertaining.
Jacquelyn Weinbrenner
Pretty awesome. I've showed this to everyone. It's so cool. I wish it had maps from Catherynne M. Valente's books!
Mike (the Paladin)
It's a good read. The only negative I had was my surprise at a few places not in the book...but there are so many imaginary places it's slightly unfair to expect them all to be here (that's humor if you didn't get it).

So...head for you favorite places like maybe...Hogworts and look around.
Natalie
Well, I haven't read it all. It's giant. But, I have it and it's awesome. It really is a dictionary full of all imaginary places. Hogwarts, Neverland, Middle Earth, Xanadou....it's got everything with full descriptions. Really awesome library collection.
Garry Rogers
The armchair explorer's guide to the geography of imaginative literature. I thought I knew some of the places well, but I learned more when I saw them through Manguel's eyes. This book could be a resource for writers, but it's mainly just fun.
Ilana Waters
Somehow, in such a scholarly form, this volume makes the places in our imaginations seem . . . less imaginary. As if you could start planning a trip there any minute. Needless to say, a must-own for all true fantasy fans!
Emily
Jul 24, 2009 Emily rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Fantastic book - it's not really a book to sit down and read cover to cover (but I may do that yet) but one that I like to flip through for fantastical images when I have just a few minutes to read.
ɥɐɹɐs
This would definitely make a great bathroom book...it's full of every imaginary place that one could imagine plus even more imaginary places!! Not something that you can reason one sitting however...
Ann aka Iftcan
interesting over-view of famous (and some no longer quite so famous) imaginary places. Written mostly in the manner of a guidebook for the various locales, it still has wit and some humour.
Lori
What's not to love about reading about those places you've already imagined?
Organized as a traditional dictionary, learn more about your favorite setting created by your favorite authors.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 80 81 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were: Creatures, Places, and People
  • The Encyclopedia of Fantasy
  • Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia
  • Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, & Other Supernatural Creatures
  • The World Guide to Gnomes, Fairies, Elves and Other Little People
  • The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales
  • Encyclopedia of Gods: Over 2, 500 Deities of the World
  • A Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels
  • Cryptozoology A to Z: The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras & Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature
  • Element Encyclopedia of the Psychic World
  • The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits
  • World-Building
  • A Dictionary of Symbols (Occult)
  • A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels and Other Subversive Spirits
  • The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology: An A-Z Guide to the Myths and Legends of the Ancient World
  • Medieval Folklore: A Guide to Myths, Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs
  • Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses
  • Mythology
3602
Alberto Manguel (born 1948 in Buenos Aires) is an Argentine-born writer, translator, and editor. He is the author of numerous non-fiction books such as The Dictionary of Imaginary Places (co-written with Gianni Guadalupi in 1980) and A History of Reading (1996) The Library at Night (2007) and Homer's Iliad and Odyssey: A Biography (2008), and novels such as News From a Foreign Country Came (1991)....more
More about Alberto Manguel...
A History of Reading The Library at Night Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature A Reading Diary: A Passionate Reader's Reflections on a Year of Books A Reader on Reading

Share This Book