So, I am a strange soul and decided that on Fridays I’m going to post interesting lists. Hopefully, they will be useful to people wanting to find books that they like to read. So Friday’s first funky list is about Underworld Fiction. That’s right I said underworld and fiction. Basically, I’m sort of obsessed about the Underworld—as in dead people realms. I’ve written two papers on the topic for my Latin classes and hence this Friday’s funky (or in the case perhaps freaky) list. The list has to start with classical examples to illustrate how the fascination with the underworld has continued for centuries. This certainly is not meant to be a comprehensive list, and good thing too, because then you would all fail to win a book! In fact, I’m leaving some out….and a few are preeettty obvious.
In this case, I’m going to define underworld fiction as a work which has a character that descends into Hell/an Underworld/Realm where dead are kept, and while there gathers information, or meets people, or learns a lesson that the character then takes back to the living world to accomplish his goals or significantly changes his outlook.
1. Odysseus in the Odyssey by Homer
2. Aeneas in the Aenied by Virgil
3. Claudius in the Apocolocyntosis by Seneca ( I guess Claudius never does return to the living world, but he sure has “fun” being there!)
1. St. Paul Apocalypse
2. Gregory the Greats Dialogues
3. Vision of Drythemlm by Bede
4. The Visio Wettini by Walahfrid Strabo
5. The Inferno by Dante
* Contrary to intuitive connections a lot of Medieval Visionary literature did not heavily rely on Virgil’s and Homer’s influence, though some obviously were (Dante in particular). Much Medieval visonary literature was based off of St. Paul’s Apocalypse, and similar works. Though, I’m sure some scholar could argue otherwise and probably make a good argument doing such.
1.The Old Kingdom Trilogy by Garth Nix
2. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
3. The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. Le Guin