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The chapter seeks to problematize what it means to ‘map’ literature in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries through the example of Romantic poet John Clare. The first half of the chapter rereads Clare through one critical and two creative interpretations of his sense of place and space, by John Barrell, Franco Moretti, and Iain Sinclair. Reading Clare in, and through, others generates a multilayered response that highlights the range of spatial forms of interpretation embraced by literary studies whilst also critically interpreting both maps and texts used in those arguments. The second half of the chapter offers a fresh reading-as-mapping of Clare by prioritizing time over space, drawing upon a concept articulated by French historian Pierre Nora, that of lieux de mémoire (sites/realms of memory). Nora’s model of the loss of shared, lived history and its memorialization in fixed sites is applied to Clare to enable a move from a focus on the predominantly spatial to the spatio-temporal. Does the concept of lieux de mémoire only work at a macro level, or can be localized in an individual? This section seeks to come at place through the memory that it embodies.
Romantic Cartographies is the first collection to explore the reach and significance of cartographic practice in Romantic-period culture. Revealing the diverse ways in which the period sought to map and spatialise itself, the volume also considers the engagement of our own digital cultures with Romanticism's 'map-mindedness'. Original, exploratory essays engage with a wide range of cartographic projects, objects and experiences in Britain, and globally. Subjects range from Wordsworth, Clare and Walter Scott, to Romantic board games and geographical primers, to reveal the pervasiveness of the cartographic imagination in private and public spheres. Bringing together literary analysis, creative practice, geography, cartography, history, politics and contemporary technologies – just as the cartographic enterprise did in the Romantic period itself – Romantic Cartographies enriches our understanding of what it means to 'map' literature and culture.
The three-part structure of this introduction reflects the larger organization of the volume as a whole into three linked and overlapping sections that each represent a wide range of approaches to the cartographic culture of the Romantic period but also reflect on and contribute to each other. Anticipating the structure of the main volume then, Part I of the Introduction is written by Damian Walford Davies; Part II by Julia S. Carlson; and Part III by Sally Bushell.
Chapter One contextualises the dynamic model of reading and mapping in terms of an evolving interdisciplinary relationship between literature, geography and cartography. It outlines the ways in which forms of literary mapping have emerged out of that connection before turning to critical cartography and its potential in relation to a more critical form of literary mapping. The final sections of the chapter use Gérard Genette’s concept of the paratext to analyse the material nature of the juxtaposition of map and text. (82)
Chapter Four examines the emergence of detective fiction in relation to real-world crime and how the reporting and mapping of it within newspapers bears upon fictional representations. It offers a sceptical (critical cartographic) reading of the map as something not to be trusted in the search for truth. This issue is considered in relation to the work of Agatha Christie which contains multiple maps. A final section on maps and human geometry (relations between people and place) analyses the social and human dimensions of such maps in the work of Christie and Margery Allingham. (95)
Chapter Seven marks a turn away from consideration of ways in which the material presence of the map bears upon authorial and readerly meaning-making, to ways in which the absence, or internalisation, of the map affects the reader’s engagement with the text. Literary mapping is unusual by comparison with maps in other disciplines, in that the question of why a map is not present, or is withheld, can be of as much interest as its presence. This chapter addresses a question that implicitly emerges from the earlier chapters: why do maps occur so frequently in popular genres but extremely infrequently in canonical texts (especially the realist novel)? After exploring this issue through debates around realism and representation in France and Britain, the chapter considers two rare canonical authors who do use maps in relation to the realist novel: Trollope and Hardy. (141)