To confront objects which do not exist as though they existed and to be influenced by them, to believe that they do exist, is not this, since no harm can come of it, a suitable and irreproachable means of providing entertainment?

—Philostratos the Younger, third century AD1

I have neither power, time, nor occasion to conquer the world as Alexander and Caesar did; yet rather than not to be mistress of one, since Fortune and the Fates would give me none, I have made a World of my own: for which no body, I hope, will blame me, since it is in every ones power to do the like.

—Margaret Cavendish, writing about her Blazing-World, in 16662

Before examining how imaginary worlds came about, we might ask why they came about; ...

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