Phrase, Fable, and Allusion
Snakes in Iceland
an allusive phrase referring to something posited only to be dismissed as non-existent; the reference is to Dr Johnson's comment on Horrebow's Natural History of Iceland (1758):
Johnson had said that he could repeat a complete chapter of `The Natural History of Iceland', from the Danish of Horrebow, the whole of which was exactly thus:- `Chap. lxxii. Concerning Snakes. There are no snakes to be met with throughout the whole island'.
James Boswell Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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