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“Now – Well, Look at the Chart”: Mapping, Maps and Literature

Frayn, Andrew



Stanley D Brunn

Martin Dodge


This chapter examines the resistance in literary criticism to making maps. Literary analysis is deeply invested in the construction of space and associated theories, but these have rarely been cartographical. Recent work that discusses the development of maps and literature in the early modern period is surveyed briefly, before focusing on the early 20th century as a key moment. The relationship between the map and the physical world is discussed in the context of realist fiction, highlighting the impossibility of realist fiction being real just as the map is not the territory. Maps, however, are used in literature to enhance the reality of the fictional world, from science fiction to novels prophesying war. (Post)colonial literatures are seen as a vital site of literary mapping, using Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as a case study. The chapter concludes by examining theoretical standpoints, engaging with the plausibility of Fredric Jameson’s concept of cognitive mapping and his spatialising of literature through the semiotic rectangle. Franco Moretti’s work on mapping is invoked as one potential way forward for literary cartography, albeit one which needs further critical refinement. Literary critics are encouraged to shed their inhibitions about using and making maps, examining the work of Barbara Piatti’s cohort on The Literary Atlas ofEurope as another avenue for exploration. Interdisciplinary collaboration will be invaluable in the development of literary cartrographies.


Frayn, A. (2017). “Now – Well, Look at the Chart”: Mapping, Maps and Literature. In S. D. Brunn, & M. Dodge (Eds.), Mapping Across Academia (259-285). Dordrecht: Springer Verlag.

Acceptance Date Jan 1, 2011
Online Publication Date Feb 12, 2017
Publication Date 2017
Deposit Date Dec 20, 2016
Publicly Available Date Dec 20, 2016
Publisher Springer
Pages 259-285
Book Title Mapping Across Academia
Chapter Number 13
ISBN 978-94-024-1009-9
Keywords Space, maps, literary representation, place,
Public URL


“Now – well, look at the chart”: Mapping, Maps and Literature (128 Kb)

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