On the Map


Written by Jade French
29 Monday 29th October 2012

We can then turn to look at the projections made for a ‘New World Order’ in this post-World War II Map designed in 1942. Despite the quasi-1984 language, this map proposes how land would be split if the Allies won the war and was seen to be spookily accurate. This map was created by a guy called Maurice Gomburg "just for fun”. Or, if you believe the conspiracy theories, to outline how the totalitarian one-world government will finally be implemented. Fight the power!

Of course, historical maps aren’t all pre- and post-war speculation. It's also interesting to see how the Elizabethans viewed the globe (below). At least they covered themselves by referring to it as the “Known World”.


Mapping the Body

From Soho to the Reeperbahn to the infamy of Amsterdam - Europe has a pretty saucy reputation. So what better way to reassess your masculinity than by looking at a map of Europe according to penis size? Age old rivalries might re-emerge though when we see than France trounces the UK in the pants department...

It’s not just the outer body which gets penalised (ha ha), maps have also been used to look deeper into the mind. The art of phrenology attempts to find links between innate characteristics and the shape of the skull. Aristotle first developed this theory and took it around Ancient Greece groping temples. If we fast-forward to the Victorians and their preoccupations with all things occult, we see a shift from the original scientific motivations and its exposure as a quack pseudo-science.


Mapping Literature

From the mind to the intellect, maps can also give us an insight into the world of books.  

This map localises famous British literary heroes. Seeing Emily Bronte (author of the darkly romantic Wuthering Heights) edged up close to Andrew Marvell (poet behind the racy To His Coy Mistress which is basically a begging letter to his lover) suggests the Yorkshire moors are a pretty sexy place to be.  

Then there is the most famous literary map "fun fact" of all. It runs like this: if the world ended like in I Am Legend (and instead of fighting zombies Will Smith instead found a copy of Ulysses by James Joyce) he could rebuild the whole of Dublin. Joyce, ever the perfectionist, so accurately rendered street names and local attractions that you can even walk through a pub crawl according to the novel.

Mapping Fiction

A whole host of authors have also created magical worlds with maps which can take you away to your favourite fictional land. From Middle Earth to the 100 Acre Wood there is no better way to fully understand the workings of the habitat of Hobbits or how to find Tigger's bouncing place than a map. And then (as always) there's Harry Potter - the multi-bajillion empire wouldn't be complete without its own geographical guide, and you can get your own Marauders Map from the Noble Collection for a reasonable $35 (Weasley twins not included).

Mapping Movie Stars

This amazing map by Mancunian design studio Dorothy, imagines a new Los Angeles where the boulevards of Hollywood really are paved with celluloid.

Back to the real LA literally, Simon Garfield’s book explores the fine art of celeb stalking in the chapter 'Casablanca, Harry Potter and where Jennifer Aniston Lives'. Now, we’ve all wanted to know where Jennifer Aniston lives since her hair-do coined ‘The Rachel’ but celeb stalking started making it’s mark way before she went on a break with Ross.

This kind of map seems altogether innocent, you might by-pass Joan Crawford's pad as you talk a little walk down Bristol Avenue on your way to work. Very innocent, if you hide the binoculars. However, with the advent of Google maps our modern day celeb spotting has reached an altogether creepier level... You can pinpoint a celeb spot within seconds and have the gawkers running faster than you can say "you have reached your destination". 

So, as we can see maps have become an integral part of our lives - GPS can hone us into Natalie Portman's fave food place, we can rebuild Dublin from the pages of Ulysses and calculate international dick ratios. And that's only scratching the surface!

To celebrate all things mapped Don't Panic! are running a competition. Design a map of your weekend and you could win a Canon 550D camera as well as having your design used as the official flyer for the release of the book.

On The Map is out now. Order from Waterstones and get a free exclusive fold-out map, while stocks last.

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