bunn (bunn) wrote,
bunn
bunn

Poughkeepsie

I was reminded of 'From Elfland to Poughkeepsie', an essay by Le Guin about writing fantasy (it's in The Language of the Night, and I've just checked, there is a version of it online if you google).  This made me ramble.  I assume, from context, that Poughkeepsie (I have deliberately not looked it up) is a very dull and prosaic place in the USA.   But for me, it's a place that I have only ever  come across, so far as I am aware, in the context of that one essay. 

Poughkeepsie: 
weird looking sort of name, no idea what it means
Quite long, not sure how to pronounce it
Looks a bit Scottish maybe, with that 'sie' on the end?
Associations: Elfland. have vague idea it's in Virginia, which name I associate with Elizabeth I and dashing explorers in ruffs.  (Edit: apparently this is incorrect. Oh well, all the best legends are vague on geography)

Elfland:
Name that I've grown up with in many different contexts
has an obvious meaning
easy to pronounce
Associations: Hollow Hills, hill forts, misfortune, 'elf arrows', Tolkien,  Kipling and the Dymchurch Flit, Tam lin, as many traditional stories as you can shake a stick at.

From where I'm standing, one of those names has strange 'other' associations, and I'm not sure it's Elfland...

I wonder if there is a British equivalent of Poughkeepsie.  Slough, maybe?  Except Slough always reminds me of the Slough of Despond in John Bunyan, which is *very* fantasy.  Swindon has the Magic Roundabout.   Leicester?  Leicestershire (home of the King Edward potato!) is *awfully* prosaic, but it is hiding a Roman caester in it's name, which is suggests hidden depths.

I suppose when you are trying to make things sound strange and other, it's always going to matter where you are standing at the time.  Hence, presumably, the hilarious-in-Britain 'High Lord Kevin' and of course poor Jack Vance's memorable 'Servants of the Wankh' which *still* makes me smile.  High Lord Kevin indeed.
Tags: books, le guin, probably overthinking, things that make you go hmmm, wittering
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