Questions tagged [setting]

Questions regarding the physical location and time period in which a work of literature takes place.

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Is Babar an African or Asian elephant?

As a child I remember enjoying the Babar picture books about the eponymous elephant and his escapades. Now, many years later, it occurs to me to wonder what kind of elephants Babar and his people were:...
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24 votes
2 answers
12k views

Could you actually go around the world in 80 days?

Around the World in 80 Days is a novel be Jules Verne about an Englishman who makes a bet with some fellow club members that he can travel around the world in 80 days. Nowadays with modern flight, ...
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20 votes
4 answers
5k views

Why Did Doyle Choose 221B Baker Street?

221B Baker Street. One of the most famous addresses in literature. But why? Was there any reason Sir Arthur Conan Doyle chose this particular address as the residence of his famous protagonist? Did ...
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14 votes
2 answers
2k views

Where are the white folks in The Expanse?

I'm three books (and three short stories) into Corey's "The Expanse" series, and I've noticed an interesting trend. When Corey describes the ethnicity and inherited culture of individual characters ...
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13 votes
1 answer
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Do Holmes and Challenger coinhabit the same fictional world?

Doyle published The Lost World well after both killing off and reviving Sherlock Holmes. He wrote about Professor Challenger and Holmes concurrently for about fourteen years, and continued to write ...
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12 votes
2 answers
1k views

Where was the Odyssean Ithaca?

It's well known that the home of Odysseus, as described in Homer's Odyssey, was the island of Ithaca. There's a modern-day Greek island called Ithaca, and according to Wikipedia: Modern Ithaca is ...
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12 votes
1 answer
1k views

Where is the start of Treasure Island set?

Robert Louis Stevenson's famous novel Treasure Island opens somewhere in Britain, at and around the Admiral Benbow inn. Where exactly is this meant to be? It seems to be relatively near to Bristol, ...
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12 votes
1 answer
698 views

Can W.G. Sebald's walks in "The Rings of Saturn" be traced?

In W.G. Sebald's 1995 novel The Rings of Saturn, the author describes different walks he takes. In some paragraphs, he describes the paths he takes very carefully, while in others he only mentions ...
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11 votes
2 answers
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Do the *books* show that Hogwarts is in Scotland?

It's well known among Harry Potter nerds that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is located in Scotland. But the only sources I've found for this are extratextual, e.g. from interviews with ...
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10 votes
1 answer
1k views

Where is Kafka's "The Trial" set?

The novel The Trial by Franz Kafka contains many deliberate omissions of information: for example, the main character's surname and the names of several other characters, the nature of his crime, and ...
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10 votes
1 answer
350 views

Where is Momo set?

Every time I start to read the opening paragraphs of Michael Ende's Momo, I think for a moment "wait, is this set thousands of years ago and I forgot?" before realising those paragraphs are only ...
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10 votes
1 answer
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Are any of the countries in Hard to Be a God based specifically on particular real-life countries?

Arkanar, Irukan, Soan, ... there are several countries mentioned and given at least some description and fleshing out in the book. Are any of these intended to be direct parallels of specific real-...
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10 votes
1 answer
562 views

What's the evidence for "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" being secretly set in Edinburgh?

Stevenson's famous novel Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is set in London, but some critics have claimed that it would seem to fit better in Stevenson's native Edinburgh, almost as if he wrote a story set in ...
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9 votes
2 answers
592 views

Where in the New York City metro area does Ludwik live?

In Tomasz Jedrowski's Swimming in the Dark, set in the early 1980s, the narrator, Ludwik, commutes to midtown Manhattan for work. The text makes clear that he has to cross a river to get there: This ...
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9 votes
1 answer
2k views

When do the events in The Valley of Fear take place?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's final Sherlock Holmes novel, "The Valley of Fear", is notable for being the only story other than the short story The Final Problem where Professor Moriarty plays a direct ...
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9 votes
1 answer
532 views

Is there a canonical map of Thomas Hardy's Wessex?

Most if not all of Thomas Hardy's novels are set in the fictional(ish) English region of Wessex. He uses many real towns and locations as settings, but gives them fictional names: for instance, Oxford ...
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8 votes
1 answer
408 views

How many of the original Sherlock Holmes stories are fixed in time?

While re-reading this Q&A, I was wondering how we know that, for example, the story "The Final Problem" is set in 1891. Presumably it's mentioned somewhere in the story. I recall the occasional ...
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8 votes
1 answer
998 views

Is The Lord of the Flies set on a real island?

It is a well-known fact that the author of Lord of the Flies William Golding was an officer in the Royal Navy, and that some of the sights he saw inspired him to write Lord of the Flies. The boys are ...
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8 votes
3 answers
8k views

Is Strattenburg, Pennsylvania based on a real town?

The Theodore Boone book series by John Grisham takes place in the fictional town of Strattenburg, Pennsylvania. Is Strattenburg, Pennsylvania based on a real town?
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7 votes
1 answer
470 views

Why did Thomas Hardy fictionalise the place names in his Wessex?

Most or all of Thomas Hardy's novels are set in the region of "Wessex", which (as defined by him) covers a vast swathe of England, as you can see from the map provided in this answer: ...
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7 votes
1 answer
993 views

Where are Greenfield and Silver City in The Boxcar Children?

I was reading The Boxcar Children to my niece awhile back. At one point, they're walking along a road and run into a fork in a road. The fork has a sign pointing to Silver City and Greenfield. Both ...
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7 votes
1 answer
340 views

Vonnegut's "Address at Rededication of Wheaton College Library, 1973"

This essay was published in (perhaps among other places) in "Wampeters Foma and Granfalloons". There are two Wheaton Colleges in the U.S., one in Norton MA and the other in Wheaton IL. Does anyone ...
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7 votes
0 answers
119 views

Do Stevenson's pirates speak in Cornish dialect?

In a literature-related thread on another SE site, I found the claim that the pirates in Robert louis Stevenson's Treasure Island speak in a Cornish dialect. This makes sense only thematically (given ...
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7 votes
0 answers
328 views

What does its future setting add to Cold Comfort Farm?

Cold Comfort Farm is set gently but irresistibly a decade or two after its original publishing date, with video phones and the Anglo-Nicaraguan War of '46 and so forth. However, setting the action in ...
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6 votes
1 answer
208 views

In Longfellow's "Evangeline", during what part of the year is Evangeline exiled?

In Longfellow's Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie, during what part of the year/holiday season is Evangeline exiled from her home? Some details seem to imply Halloween and others Christmas. In the poem ...
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6 votes
1 answer
218 views

Where is St. Lawrence island in Africa, mentioned in Os Lusíadas

Os Lusíadas chapter 1 verse 42 mentions a certain Saint Lawrence island in Africa. But this name doesn't seem to be used in modern times. What island or other geographical location does this refer ...
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6 votes
1 answer
232 views

Why is John Betjeman's poem set on the A30 in particular?

John Betjeman's poem "Meditation on the A30" is about a man who is fuming at his wife and driving recklessly. Everything described in the poem itself is fairly universal, could take place anywhere, so ...
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6 votes
1 answer
283 views

How is it 1100 miles from Hannibal to southern Arkansas in Huck Finn?

In Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, it says: Well, Aunt Polly she said that when Aunt Sally wrote to her that Tom and SID had come all right and safe, she says to herself: "Look at ...
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6 votes
1 answer
542 views

Is there significance to the location of Lilliput in Gulliver's Travels?

If we look at the map, we can conclude that Lilliput is in the Indian Ocean. Is there any significance to its location in the Indian Ocean? What is that significance, if any?
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6 votes
1 answer
325 views

Is the castle where Mr. Toad is imprisoned a real place, or based on a real place?

In The Wind in The Willows, at the end of the chapter 'VI: Mr. Toad', Toad is convicted and sentenced to twenty years in "the remotest dungeon of the best-guarded keep of the stoutest castle in all ...
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5 votes
1 answer
339 views

Did Shakespeare err in using Ephesus as a port setting?

Shakespeare's play The Comedy of Errors is set in the town of Ephesus, which is apparently a seaport with ships within walking distance of where the action takes place: DROMIO OF SYRACUSE: Master,...
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5 votes
1 answer
261 views

Is Steinbeck's "The Moon is Down" set in Norway?

I recently read The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck and I noticed that the conquerors and the conquered are not defined. Throughout the novel are several allusions that the conquerors are German. They ...
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5 votes
0 answers
130 views

Is the location of the land of the Houyhnhnms significant?

As seen from the below map from the Wikipedia article, which is identical to the version of Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, which I own, the land of the Houyhnhnms is directly below what we now ...
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4 votes
1 answer
4k views

Why is "The Vanishing Half" set in Louisiana?

Author Brit Bennett's new novel has hit and stayed on The New York Times fiction best-seller list for months as of now. I have not been able to get a copy. Reading the reviews and synopsis makes me ...
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4 votes
1 answer
631 views

Which London streets mentioned in Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories are fictional?

In the course of the Sherlock Holmes stories, many streets are named. Let's focus here on London streets. Many of them are real, e.g. Baker St., Oxford St., Regent St. and many more. Which of them, ...
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4 votes
1 answer
113 views

What is the connection between the Bleak House in Broadstairs and the one in Dickens's novel?

Dickens's novel Bleak House shares its name with an actual house in the English seaside town of Broadstairs. Dickens actually stayed in that house for a while, and wrote David Copperfield there, but ...
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4 votes
1 answer
227 views

Where do the events take place in "Afternoon of an Author" by F. Scott Fitzgerald?

"The bus went past a pale Athenian railroad station brought to life by the blue shirted redcaps out in front". This is the description that gives the name of the place Athens. There's also a ...
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  • 141
4 votes
1 answer
106 views

Where is the setting of "A Hawk in Silver" based on?

The sci-fi/fantasy author Mary Gentle's first novel, A Hawk in Silver, is set in the small town of 'Surcombe' on the south coast of England. Although Surcombe is fictional, the description of it is so ...
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4 votes
0 answers
145 views

Why don't the Assassin's Creed novels include present day events?

The Assassin's Creed games mostly have a present-day component, where the protagonist's descendent enters the Animus, reliving the protagonist's life. Since this is merely replaying memories, we don't ...
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3 votes
1 answer
84 views

Where is "Keumgang-Gul / Diamond Cave"?

This short poem by Ko Un is entitled, in its English translation by Sunny Jung, "Keumgang-Gul / Diamond Cave". I'm assuming that Keumgang-Gul is the original Korean title and it translates ...
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3 votes
2 answers
199 views

What is meant by "Nysa" in the Lusiads?

The following verse appears in Book 1 of The Lusiads (William Mickle's translation, 1877 edition; emphasis mine): So spoke high Jove: the gods in silence heard, Then rising, each by turns his ...
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3 votes
1 answer
104 views

Where is Thisby in The Scorpio Races?

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater is a novel set in Thisby, a fictional island whose main town is called Skarmouth. The whole thing has a very Scottish or Irish feel, and the phrase capaill uisce ...
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3 votes
0 answers
67 views

Where is the setting of "Time, as it evaporates..."?

I recently read an interesting story that was sought in an identification request on another site: the short story "Time, as it evaporates..." ("Le temps, en s'évaporant") by Jean-...
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3 votes
0 answers
39 views

What do the locations mentioned in First Love mean?

Gwendoline Riley's novel First Love (2017) is about the relationship of the female narrator, Neve, with Edwyn, and how the type of relationships she had with her mother and (especially) her abusive ...
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2 votes
1 answer
94 views

Where is the Kurdish principality of Botan?

The classical Kurdish story of Mem and Zin (which I'm reading online in Salah Saadalla's translation) appears to be set in a principality called Botan, whose prince (Zin's brother) rules from the town ...
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  • 63.1k
2 votes
1 answer
118 views

Are the location inspirations clear from the text of Swallows & Amazons?

Swallows and Amazons, the first book of the eponymous series of children's classics, as well as many of the later books in the series, is set in and around a lake in the Lake District of England. I ...
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2 votes
1 answer
57 views

When is "Mr Pottermack's Oversight" set?

Mr Pottermack's Oversight is a mystery novel by R. Austin Freeman. Freeman invented the inverted mystery in which the crime is first shown, often from the PoV of the criminal, and then the process of ...
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2 votes
0 answers
73 views

How much worldbuilding of Sodor was included in the original Rev. W. Awdry stories?

The famous Railway Series by the Rev. W. Awdry is set in the fictional island of Sodor, situated between northern England and the Isle of Man. Today, reading about Sodor on Wikipedia, I was surprised ...
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2 votes
0 answers
56 views

Did Anthony Trollope's Barsetshire inspire the Archers' Borsetshire?

Barsetshire is a fictional county of England, created by Anthony Trollope for his Chronicles of Barsetshire series published in the mid-19th century. The county town is the equally fictional ...
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2 votes
0 answers
38 views

How can there be an Icnield Way in Hybras?

Jack Vance's Lyonesse trilogy includes some detailed worldbuilding of the island of Hybras (a.k.a. Atlantis), located off the Bay of Biscay and, at least at the time the story starts, divided into ten ...
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