THREAD for @FolkloreThurs’s #Underworld + #underground theme: Katabasis (descent to an underworld) is common in classical myth + lit, e.g. Odysseus, Aeneas, and Orpheus visit the Underworld. But this mythological theme is also prominent in fantasy literature:
Examples: in Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Farthest Shore, Ged + Arran journey to the Dry Land of the dead to discover why magic is “thinning” in Earthsea. Resisting the desire for immortality (or rather serial longevity) is key in Le Guin’s mythos.
@FolkloreThurs #FolkloreThursday
In @PhilipPullman’s The Amber Spyglass, Lyra and Will have their own katabasis and “harrowing of hell” (alternative to the Christian one) too. This visit will determine their fate and that of their worlds!
@FolkloreThurs #FolkloreThursday
But a katabasis is also a descend in other “under” worlds. In Susan Cooper’s Silver on the Tree, Will and Bran visit the underwater Lost Land, inspired by the Welsh legend of Cantre’r Gwaelod, to recover the crystal sword Eirias. 🌊 🗡
@FolkloreThurs #FolkloreThursday
In @FisherAuthor’s Darkhenge, Rob descends via an upside down tree to the Unworld to find his sister, Chloe, who is trapped there in an uncanny landscape (while in the “real” world she’s lying in a hospital, in a comma).
@FolkloreThurs #FolkloreThursday
In #Tolkien’s The Hobbit Bilbo goes through two underground journeys to encounter monstrous and uncanny beings: the goblins, Gollum, and of course the dragon Smaug (and what of the Elves of Mirkwood, one could ask!)
@FolkloreThurs #FolkloreThursday
In @neilhimself’s Neverwhere, Richard Mayhew enters the world of London Below, a parallel London where London Tube stops become real legendary figures or mythical locations. The katabasis here is part of the portal to an otherworld.
@FolkloreThurs #FolkloreThursday
In Mervyn Peake’s Boy in Darkness the katabasis is the most sinister + disturbing I can think of: following uncannily hybrid creatures, the Boy encounters the terrifying (if child-like and purely white) Lamb in his underground vault...
@FolkloreThurs #FolkloreThursday
What other examples of katabasis in fantasy literature can you think of? (I’m sure I’m forgetting some obvious ones!!!)
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