James Branch Cabell

Literary Life and Legacy

Maps of Poictesme

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Map of Poictesme, drawn by James Branch Cabell
Kept by the author in his copy of The Judging of Jurgen
Special Collections and Archives, VCU Libraries

Poictesme (pronounced “pwa-tem”) is the fictional country which the setting for the fantasy works of James Branch Cabell, known collectively as Biography of the Life of Manuel. Poictesme, which is situated roughly in the south of France, is ruled by the Count Dom Manuel. The name suggests the two real French cities of Poitiers (medieval Poictiers) and Angoulême (medieval Angoulesme). Cabell had a great love of medieval French romance and troubadour verse.

This map, drawn by James Branch Cabell, was first published in Carl Van Doren’s James Branch Cabell (Robert M. McBride and Co., 1925). Cabell kept this drawing of the map in his copy of The Judging of Jurgen. VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives also holds a rough draft of the map with Cabell’s notes on the reverse. Those notes were transcribed and printed beneath the map in Van Doren’s book.

Other maps of Poictesme have been drawn by Frank Papé (first published in The Silver Stallion, 1926), Peter Koch (issued as a broadside, 1929, see below), and Judith Ann Lawrence (published in the journal, Kalki, 1968, 1970). In 1937 Walter Klinefelter discussed the maps in Books about Poictesme. An Essay in Imaginative BibliographyMap of Poictesme, a fictional world [View Image]
Poictesme, map by Peter Koch
Image: Maps and Geospatial Data, Princeton University Library
No Known Copyright

 

This map of Cabell’s fictional province, Poictesme, was designed by Peter Koch and printed in Chicago by Argus Books, 1929.

Copies of this map were incorporated into two card tables used by Cabell in his home, and now held in The Cabell Room, James Branch Cabell Library, Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries.Card table with map incorporated into the top [View Image]
James Branch Cabell’s card table with Peter Koch’s map of Poictesme
Special Collections and Archives, VCU Libraries

 Card table with map of Poictesme, top view [View Image]
James Branch Cabell’s card table with Peter Koch’s map of Poictesme
Special Collections and Archives, VCU Libraries

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