Geocriticism: Mapping the Spaces of Literature
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Literature abounds with the description and exploration of spaces. The writer maps the world, combining a representation of real places with the imaginary space of fiction. In some cases, what I have elsewhere called literary cartography serves to map a well known space (e.g., Dostoevsky’s St. Petersburg or Twain’s Mississippi River); in others, the places mapped may be wholly imaginary (More’s Utopia or Tolkien’s Middle Earth). Most often, the two combine, as the literary representation of a seemingly real place is never the purely mimetic image of that space. In a sense, all writing partakes in a form of cartography, since even the most realistic map does not truly depict the space, but, like literature, figures it forth in a complex skein of imaginary relations. In "La Géocritique: Réel, fiction, espace," Bertrand Westphal provides a theory and a method for analyzing this interplay of spatial practices in literary texts.