Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

In a number of allegorical Taproot Texts, notably Dante's The Divine Comedy (written 1304-1321), moralized landscapes are described in ways which involve geographical layout, and maps based on these descriptions were increasingly supplied in later editions. Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726) made a specific point of fitting its imaginary locations into unknown spaces in mundane geography, satirizing human knowledge by the implication that this authenticating device was as reliable, or otherwise, as those in Travellers' Tales. The adventure stories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries – e.g., those of Robert Louis Stevenson and H Rider Haggard – regularly came supplied with actual maps both as an authenticating device and in order to facilitate understanding of the text. L Frank Baum provided a map of Oz and James Branch Cabell one of Poictesme. J R R Tolkien, in The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955), provided a map in much the same spirit that he provided endless glossaries and appendices. In imitation, almost all modern Genre Fantasies come equipped with a map, to the extent that maps are only much noticed when absent.

It has been remarked by Diana Wynne Jones in her The Tough Guide to Fantasyland (1996) that to see an extensive map at the front of a trilogy is to know that "you must not expect to be let off from visiting every damn' place shown on it". [RK]

further reading: An Atlas of Fantasy (graph anth 1973) ed J B Post.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.