Cartographic realism in nineteenth-century literature

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This case study seeks to use maps as a ground of comparison of nineteenth-century realist fiction by posing the question: how did nineteenth-century realist literature itself make use of and think about maps? In order to do so, it considers maps not only as tools, but also as complex objects. At once material, representational and discursive, maps unite a number of features that make them an ideal site for a comparative analysis of questions of representation, truth-value and realism that are central to the literature of the period. The case study identifies three main roles that maps played in nineteenth-century realist fiction: the first and most basic role concerns readerly orientation; second, maps served as generators of fiction; and third, maps provided a source for debates about representation itself. Rather than simply inscribing the fiction in geospace, the accompanying maps raised the very question of the relation between the text, the map, and their referents and called attention to potential disjunctions between the imaginary fiction and real geospace. I use the map as a prism to compare a range of nineteenth-century texts and the varying functions and conceptions of realism their engagement with cartography entails. The literary texts themselves thus appear to find their place along a spectrum from the mappable to the unmappable, thereby positioning themselves in the midst of the contemporary discussion about the referentiality of maps and the mappability of literature.
TitelLandscapes of Realism : Rethinking literary realism in comparative perspectives
RedaktørerDirk Göttsche, Rosa Mucignat, Robert Weninger
Vol/bindI (Mapping Realism)
ForlagJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Publikationsdatoapr. 2021
ISBN (Trykt)9789027208064
ISBN (Elektronisk)9789027260369
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2021
NavnComparative History of Literatures in European Languages


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