Chi non muore si rivede sull’isola: la leggenda contemporanea dell’isola delle celebrità da Evgenij Prigozhin ad Achille

Elena Maria Eusebi


In recent decades the internet has become the privileged vehicle for folklore narratives: among these, many are contemporary legends, more commonly known as «urban legends». Starting from here, and in particular from the fake news surrounding the recent passing of the Russian warlord Prigozhin, this article documents the current diffusion of a specific contemporary legend: several dead celebrities allegedly staged their own demise to escape to a secret island, far from notoriety. This narrative represents a case of polygenesis, that is, the same story spreading on a folkloric level in different ages and places, independently, due to similar incentives. This article traces the variations of the island of celebrities over time: it deals with Hitler and Elvis in the 20th century, King Arthur and Lanval in the Middle Ages and particular consideration is given to the ancient diffusion of the tale, in Greece and Rome, with protagonists such as the god Cronus, the general Sertorius, Helen and Achilles. Important is the investigation into the incentives that in different eras led people's imagination to construct the narrative on the island of dead celebrities; the study ultimately leads to a comparative reflection on the perception of islands today and in antiquity.

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