The Allure of the Map

I remember that the copy of Winnie-the-Pooh I used to check out of the library when I was a child had maps in the front and back of the book, and I used to pore over them, intrigued by the placement of the Hundred Acre Wood among all the other locations. My brother was similarly fascinated by the maps in his Lord of the Rings books. Even today, I occasionally read a fantasy novel and find the maps to be some of the most intriguing parts.

So I enjoyed Casey N. Cep’s lovely little post at the New Yorker about the allure of the map and thought you might, too:

I suppose anyone who is homesick or lost wants that mile-to-mile correspondence. But Carroll’s map is pure fiction, and not only because of its outlandish scale. No map can be a perfect representation of reality; every map is an interpretation, which may be why writers are so drawn to them.

Writers love maps: collecting them, creating them, and describing them. Literary cartography includes not only the literal maps that authors commission or make themselves but also the geographies they describe. The visual display of quantitative information in the digital age has made charts and maps more popular than ever, though every graphic, like every story, has a point of view.

You can read the whole thing here.

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