Plotted: A Literary Atlas by Andrew DeGraff
Classic literature buffs are sure to enjoy this book. In Plotted: A Literary Atlas, author and San Francisco-based illustrator Andrew DeGraff has created 19 idiosyncratic and highly detailed maps based on the landscapes and locales in popular literature that offers readers a new way of looking at their favorite fictional worlds. Each chapter begins with a short essay by the book's editor Daniel Harmon with a somewhat philosophical look at some great classics.
The stunningly detailed artwork takes readers deep into the landscapes from The Odyssey, Hamlet, Robinson Crusoe, Invisible Man, A Wrinkle in Time, Watership Down, A Christmas Carol, and more. My absolute favorite in the book starts on page 71. Taken from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the editor provides a short interpretation of Mark Twain's classic, and in the next few pages DeGraff has mapped out Huckleberry Finn's Mississippi river journey. Color coded, using a different color for each character, DeGraff illustrates the infamous journey down the mighty Mississippi. The written interpretation describes the Mississippi as a river that literally divides our nation, and as for the character Jim, it symbolizes the only road to freedom, running only one way, and toward the slave-holding states. With every mile that Huck and Jim travel south, the more perilous the journey becomes. Danger lurks around every bend, and it is the people on land that are the trouble, whereas the river is "free and easy and comfortable" like an oasis. Another wonderfully mapped out classic is Watership Down by Richard Adams on page 113. The chapter is titled The Warrens and the editor shares his feelings on the true meaning behind the clever story told from the rabbits' points of view - how intimidatingly large the world must appear and how comfortable a true home is, as Watership Down finally becomes.
Some may call the illustrations in the book maps, but other reviewers say that in reality they represent the author's personal graphical interpretation for an eclectic array of literary works. I agree. DeGraff has somehow managed to capture the feel and essence of each story in his maps; it is like he is giving book reviews via illustration instead of words. I found the introduction at the front of the book fascinating as DeGraff describes the time, effort, and creativity involved in the creation of the book. Reading it first will help you appreciate this masterpiece all the more.