A Colour Map of Utopia
“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at”
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at”, said Oscar Wilde (in his 1891 essay ‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism’).
‘Utopia’ is a Greek neologism invented by the author of the eponymous satire, Thomas More, and can be translated as ‘Nowhere’. Its perfect (but fictitious) society was meant to contrast with, and consequently be a criticism of, contemporary society in early 16th century Europe.
This picture was taken from one of the first editions of the book, which is published online at the Bibliotheca Augustana, an interesting repository of Latin texts, stretching from well before Christ to the 20th century. Unfortunately, despite the lovely colours, the gothic lettering makes the text labels in this map unreadable…
Strange Maps #51
Got a strange map? Let me know at email@example.com.
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