Literary cartography and the collecting of place and experience, with specific reference to collecting Arthur Ransome
This paper argues that literature with a connection to identifiable locations provides an incentive for “collecting place” – in other words, being in and personally experiencing places that are the setting for literature. Although literary tourism has been a well established phenomenon from at least the second half of the eighteenth century, Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series have probably taken the collecting of place to unprecedented levels, significantly swelling visitor populations of the Lake District, Norfolk Broads, Ipswich environs, Stour estuary and Isle of Lewis. Furthermore, it is argued that literature that inspires active participation – which in the paper is termed “collecting experience” – provides both a further incentive to collecting and also forges memory keys with power to evoke and re-experience places and perspectives later on in life. Again, Ransome’s writing is used as the principal illustration because it is remarkable in the level to which, for more than eighty years, it has inspired readers to sail, row, hike, camp, tie knots, light fires, gaze at stars, signal in Morse and Semaphore and practice cartographic arts. Finally the idea of “literary turangawaewae” is considered, namely the notion that books with a strong sense of place may provide a “standing place for the feet” capable of giving emotional security, and this will be stronger if work has been expended in developing skills and connections (i.e. collecting place and experience). The paper identifies cartography as both an important tool in describing and identifying places and making them real, and as an incentive for collecting place. Detailed, reader-friendly maps bearing a strong congruence with the real world, in forging connections with real places and real activities may also have the effect of “future proofing” collections begun in childhood so that they are still relevant and even added to in adulthood, and such maps are able to provide connections back to childhood insights and perspectives.
Publisher: Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand
Rights Statement: Creative commons. © 2014 BSANZ
Keywords: Literary Cartography; Arthur Ransome; Mapping
Research Type: Journal Article
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