Saturday, September 8, 2012

Will There Be a Real Hobbiton or Beruna? There Is California.

The fact is, there was a novel of the not exactly "other world" but at least "exotic imaginary countries" type (like Opar in the Tarzan novels) where the Queen of some Black Amazons was named Calafia and the land she ruled - an island - was named California.

Then Spanish explorers found California La Baja (Californian Peninsula) and named it after the land in the novel. It might have helped that some indigenous tribe referred to "high mountains" as "kali forno" (and Baja California has a Sierra), but it seems the novel was written before the explorers came to the place. Novel came out in 1510, explorations leading to discovery started in 1511.

In case you wonder, there are already real world places called Narnia (in Umbria, Italy, origin of Emperor Nerva), Shasta and Aravis (mountain and mountain range in California! and in France, same order), Miraz (Torre de Miraz - Lookout Tower - Northern Road to Santiago). That was obviously the case before the Narniad was written.

The novel's name was Las sergas de Esplandián, and it was a sequel to Amadis of Gaul. The name may have been inspired by "Califerne" in the Song of Roland, which may refer to "Calahorra" (Spain) or "Calafornina" or "Californo" (in Sicily). Like the land of Queen Calafia, Califerne is supposed to be a non-Christian land.

But California became a Christian land, both sides of the border.

If part of N.Z. were renamed Hobbiton (supposing for instance the village built for the film is reused as housing) or some part of Tunisia is renamed Tatwiin, I will not be surprised.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Mouffetard, Paris
Nativity of Our Lady

PS, the main fact is from the Wiki article: Origin of the name California; and corresponding Spanish one Toponimia de California.

No comments: