Linda Poon is a staff writer at CityLab covering science and urban technology, including smart cities and climate change. She previously covered global health and development for NPR’s Goats and Soda blog.
Navigate the twists and turns of books like Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and A Wrinkle in Time.
Whether you’re tracing a young boy’s journey along the Mississippi River in Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or traveling through time and space in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, it’s easy to get lost in your favorite books—both metaphorically and literally. There are so many destinations in Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days that it’s hard to keep track of exactly where Phileas Fogg has gone. That is, unless you have a map.
To help readers navigate the twists and turns of complex storylines, pop cartographer Andrew DeGraff created incredibly detailed maps of 19 of the world’s most iconic literary classics. The collection, which will be published October 20 in a new book called Plotted: A Literary Atlas, maps ancient Greek epics like The Odyssey and more recent work like Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.
In maps for stories with real-world settings, DeGraff tried to stay historically accurate. “Jules Verne’s tale of circumnavigation is filled with real railroads and mostly real ships,” he writes in the introduction of his book. “And whenever they were real, I did my best to find them.”
For more fantastical tales, the details of the maps were left to his own interpretation and imagination. The short story “The Library of Babel,” in which the author imagines the universe as a series of adjacent hexagonal rooms, has neither characters nor a journey. So DeGraff and his editor Daniel Harmon drew a set of images that mapped the reader’s experience “from an understanding of the single cell to an understanding of the surrounding cells, to a consciousness of the universe that repeats endlessly around us.”
While the maps do help readers get a better understanding of where and when each story takes place, DeGraff also writes that he has a bigger goal in mind: “These are maps for people who seek to travel beyond the lives and places they already know (or think they know). The goal here isn’t to become found, but only to become more lost.”