Mapping Literature.

By Emily Price

“In many cases writers choose settings for their stories which have a ‘realworld counterpart’ – and they design these settings in a rather realistic way, sometimes even that realistic that one could as well use the novels in question as guidebooks to the described region or city.”  (Piatti et al. 2012)

This quotation is very relevant to Jane Austen’s Persuasion as we found out during our literary walk of Bath. Using Persuasion as a map for this walk we visited each location written about by Austen within the novel, ranging from Camden Crescent, to the West-gate Buildings and everything in between. The essay, ‘Mapping Literature’ as quoted from above establishes this link between geography and fiction. The ability to create geographical maps centered around the fictional journey of characters is advantageous. However, the true excellence in this mapping abilities comes in the form of more abstract links and connections.

For one character’s strolling through a city there are dozens of options, especially if the only hint the text offers is a vague direction. (Piatti et al. 2012)

This quotation gives rise to the multiple interpretations that a literature map provides scope for. Creation of a map centered around a single piece of literature has the potential to demonstrate character journey, character interactions, patterns in character behavior relevant to their physical journey, an insight into the physical freedom or, opposing this, the isolation of any one character. From this simple technique of mapping literature many conclusions can be drawn relating to themes and overriding issues within the novel.

Digitalising this piece of literature into a image map, could arguably also increase the accessibility of the novel and its narrative journey, for example, from looking at the initial maps we have begun on Persuasion we can already draw conclusions about…

Status; those elevated physically in the city were of a higher status to those placed in the lower regions.

Freedom of Travel; some characters, primarily those of higher status make far more journeys than those of a lower status, who find themselves confined to a single location.

Populated/Central Locations; Certain locations for example, the Assembly Rooms and Milsom Street can be found in numerous character journeys whilst others, for example, Laura Street are rarely, if at all, visited.

These simple conclusions that are drawn from a single image can spark many questions concerning the novel and its choice of locations and journeys. Mapping Literature has therefore succeeded in the digital presentation of a novel without steering away from its complexity and meaning whilst simultaneously managing to make the novel accessible in an image based format and allowing for individual interpretation along the way.

Piatti et al. (2012) Mapping Literature:Towards a Geography of Fiction. Online. [Available at: http://latlas.ikgserve.ch/files/2012/01/Piatti2008_ArtAndCartography_Springer.pdf] [Last Accessed 05/12/2014]

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