Down the research rabbit hole

I’m working on a biography of three 11th century sisters and, at this stage of the research, every thread to pursue involves disappearing down a rabbit hole for a very long time, trying to get answers. 

The critical thing is to record everything in the research process, including more threads and queries to pursue, so that, after many, lengthy escapades down many holes – so many that you seem to be standing on a veritable hole-pierced rabbit warren – it does eventually become possible to construct an ensemble of information from it all, which can then be turned into a narrative. 

George Eliot’s Mr Casaubon in Middlemarch comes to mind. I always feel a bit sorry for him. He has a fabulous wife and doesn’t know what to do with her. He is researching a mammoth tome and never gets it finished. His research turns out to be an enormous folly, without outcome. He’s not the best example to have in mind at this point! 

The fairy, Melusine, half woman, half winged serpent, is associated in medieval stories with the lords of Lusignan. One of the sisters I am researching, Almodis de La Marche, married Hugh V of Lusignan and there is a possibility that the Melusine story is linked to Almodis. I’m currently tracking this question down various rabbit holes.

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