Research Output

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

  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.

  • Type:

    Book Chapter

  • Date:

    01 January 2017

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher


  • DOI:


  • Library of Congress:

    PN0080 Criticism

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism


Frayn, A. (2016). “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. doi:10.1007/978-94-024-1011-2_13



Space, maps, literary representation, place,

Monthly Views:

Available Documents