Literary Landscapes & Fantastical Maps | Beautiful Books


Today’s video is all about literary maps
and books that explore the real and imaginary landscapes of our favorite
novels in detail/ The first book I’d like to review is ‘The
Writer’s Map’ edited by Huw Lewis Jones. This is probably my favorite of all this
type of book in my collection. It’s a magnificent atlas of imaginary lands and a collection of essays by and about writing. It’s packed full of large glorious
full-color illustrations. The essays cover not only maps that appear in the
books, but also writer’s sketches, notes by map illustrators, and real-life locations
that inspire them. The maps explored in this book range from adventure books to
fantasy novels, and even comics and nursery rhymes. The prologue by Philip
Pullman recounts the experience of drawing a map as he set out on one of
his early novels, ‘The Tin Princess’. Cressida Cowell explains the inspiration
for maps of numerous children’s books when drawing her illustrations in ‘How to
Train Your Dragon’; Miraphora Mina recalls the creative challenge of drawing up the
Marauder’s Map for the Harry Potter films; David Mitchell leads us to the Mappa
Mundi by way of Cloud Atlas in his own sketch maps; and Daniel Reeve shares his
fascinating history making maps to the Lord of the Rings. In contrast, Literary Landscapes edited
by John Sutherland charts the real-life settings of classic fiction. It covers 73 books with a couple of pages on each, including a short biography
of the author along with pictures and publication details for the first
edition. The text entries discuss how the setting and other attributes of the
literary environment influence the story, the characters, and the impact on
the reader. It provides very interesting context to a fascinating collection of
literature. A word of warning though – the electronic version contains none of the
images so you definitely want to see this one in print. Also in series with the previous book
is ‘Literary Wonderlands’, edited by Laura Miller, which does the same thing for
fictional landscapes, ranging from Beowulf to Murakami’s IQ84. The essays
herein discuss the relevance of the writers’ own lives to the creation of
their worlds, as well as exploring influences from contemporary events and
philosophies on their work. The lovely covers for these two books are
by the brilliant Jim Tierney, by the way. His cover art always catches my eye
along a bookshelf. Next we have a one-man artist affair called ‘Plotted’ by Andrew DeGraff and Daniel Harmon. This book is an eclectic copy offering
landscape maps of literary classics that seek to create “a sense of contour, sometimes
literal and sometimes metaphorical.” The maps range from tracing the movements of Odysseus around the Mediterranean, to the path walked by Hamlet through the rooms of Elsinore castle, to the ‘romantic journey’ of the characters in Pride and Prejudice. The same artist also created an atlas
called ‘Cinemaps’ which does the same thing for classic movies, for example charting
the path of true love from the Princess Bride. Unfortunately I found the color reproductions a little muddy in this
volume, but they’re interesting interpretations nonetheless. Honing in now on single locations,
“Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth” offers a fascinating look into the creative
process of the man who famously once wrote “I wisely started with a map and
made the story fit.” The book includes essays on a number of different themes
including on the “concept of fairy as an enchanted literary realm” and the
influence of the author’s visual imagination and mapping the Lord of the
Rings. Next, this leads me to a lovely set of middle-earth maps illustrated by John
Howe. These maps come in a boxrf set of four, while some of them can be purchased separately. They include essays by Brian Sibley on
the importance and evolution of geography within Tolkien’s epic fiction,
as well as full color fold-out maps. I actually have a few of these types of
literary conceits in my library – meaning maps of fantastical places that
have been created as though they’re real places. The first I’ll show here is Brian
Jacques’s map of Redwall, which comes with a copy of ‘The Redwall Riddler’
containing riddles and puzzles based on the series. I also have a fun set of maps set in
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. Each is accompanied by a booklet of information, as well as a full map of the Discworld. There’s also a street map for Ankh-Morpork, a tourist guide to Lancre, and a map of Death’s Domain. Also available is a huge street directory
covering all the districts that comes with a pull-out map. And last, but
definitely not least, what would a literary maps video be without including
a copy of the Marauder’s Map?! I’ve seen several versions of this, but my favorite
is the one published by the Noble Collection. Folded up, this is still a
large map at 15 and a half by 8 inches, but it unfolds out fully to 6 feet long! It’s printed on heavy parchment paper
and contains lots of little secret panels that unfold to reveal hidden
details. Thanks for watching! Like, comment or
subscribe and join me next time for a YouTube game I’m working on where you
can play along to guess the book from the map. Bye!

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