The Dictionary of Imaginary Places: The Newly Updated and Expanded Classic

ISBN: 0156008726
ISBN 13: 9780156008723
By: Alberto Manguel Gianni Guadalupi

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About this book

From Atlantis to Xanadu and beyond, this Baedeker of make-believe takes readers on a tour of more than 1,200 realms invented by storytellers from Homer's day to our own. Here you will find Shangri-La and El Dorado; Utopia and Middle Earth; Wonderland and Freedonia. Here too are Jurassic Park, Salman Rushdie's Sea of Stories, and the fabulous world of Harry Potter. The history and behavior of the inhabitants of these lands are described in loving detail, and are supplemented by more than 200 maps and illustrations that depict the lay of the land in a host of elsewheres. A must-have for the library of every dedicated reader, fantasy fan, or passionate browser, Dictionary is a witty and acute guide for any armchair traveler's journey into the landscape of the imagination.

Reader's Thoughts


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.

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), you can find it for just a few bucks.


This is basically a D&D player's dream come true packaged to appeal to a more general audience. Would make for an excellent bathroom book if it weren't so heavy.


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.

Peter DiCicco

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-Earth!

Artur Coelho

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, de vazios nos mapas que prometem dragões e ao fazê-lo despertam os voos mais exóticos da imaginação humana. Foi este o meu primeiro pensamento ao folhear este delicioso tomo. Escrevi isto antes de o abrir com olhos de leitor, e só depois li o fantástico prefácio de Manguel, que espelha com precisão esta necessidade de imaginar o desconhecido na era onde as luzes do conhecimento iluminam o mais recôndito, longínquo ou obscuro. Não só, mas também o fascínio pelos voos de imaginação, pelos locais que existem em mapas que mapeiam não a geografia física mas os escolhos e penedos da imaginação sonhadora.


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.


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 each in this book, as well as of far more balanced worlds such as Tolkien's Middle Earth, makes for a fascinating study.


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 to find something new each time I pick it up.


To find out what kind of places exist in other people's imaginations turn to this book. There are maps and guides. I enjoyed studying the map of Oz. Who knew? This is a welcome addition to the bookshelf for anyone who enjoys fantasy/sci-fi. Each name is given a complete explanation. Helpful.

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.

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 Imaginary Places is a very large book. I love owning it for its information and obscure yet welcome existence. It also will instantly put your geek, word-nerd status to new heights.


This is a big omnibus of 19th Century fantasies. The kind where the hero washes up on an island where everyone wears their hats upside down for some reason.

Marna Carlozzi

Loved this book when I was younger and love having it to share with my child.

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!

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