Maps from Stories, Stories from Maps – 3/26/19

I am in the middle of an excellent book of literary maps — maps drawn by authors, or others, that introduce or accompany works of fiction. The book is titled, The Writer’s Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands. It is edited by Huw Lewis-Jones but is comprised of over 20 chapters, each written by an author or illustrator. “This exquisitely crafted and illustrated atlas explores many of the maps that adorn the writer’s landscape — some real, some imagined — in both words and images.” As examples, see the images rotating here: there is hand-drawn map on the endpages of Steinbeck’s classic, Travels with Charley; the 1934 map of Amtor (Venus) drawn by Edgar Rice Burroughs for his Amtor/Venus series of novels; and the famous map of Treasure Island from his 1894 novel of the same name.

One of my favorite passages in this book comes from  the chapter “Rebuilding Asgard” written by English author Joanne Harris. She writes, “What drives us to explore our world? Why do we tell stories? The reason for both is largely the same. We do these things because we want to know what lies beyond the horizon — in writing terms, what happens next. It is no accident that ‘plot’ can mean at the same time the arc of a story, or a chart showing the course of a ship, or the tracing of a map. These things are all interconnected. The idea of movement, of laying out, of following a set path — all these things are part of the language of human exploration as well as that of narrative.” So true!