Friday, November 9, 2018

Maps

Alan Jacobs likes maps and really likes this book:
Barring some unforeseen miracle of publishing occurring in the next few weeks, The Writer’s Map will be my book of the year for 2018. It gathers intelligently charming meditations from writers and festoons them with map after map after map after map of imaginary, and sometimes non-imaginary, lands. (Only after several days of staring at the beautifully reproduced images did I force myself to read the words, but I am glad I finally did.) I am so enamored of this book that I bitterly resent what takes me away from it, whether that be the need to eat, or sleep, or write this review. But when duty calls, I sometimes answer. ....

During the rainy Scottish summer of 1881, Robert Louis Stevenson made an elaborate (and very skillfully drawn!) map for his stepson, and from that map emerged, inevitably it seems, the story called Treasure Island. The whole tale was implicit in the shape of the place, and when no other places are on the map that kind of thing can be more easily seen.

This is true even when places aren’t literally islands but are self-contained to a degree that nothing outside their boundaries is effectively real. A.A. Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood might as well be an island, as might Trollope’s Barsetshire, Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, and Richard Adams’s Watership Down. (Adams knew from the beginning the boundaries of his locale, because it is a real place, but Trollope and Faulkner only started making maps when they were well into their storytelling and had begun to be confused.) .... (more)
N.C. Wyeth"s map of Treasure Island is a fvorite of mine (no idea whether it is in the book reviewed above)