Literary Maps: Take Our Imagined Cartography Quiz


Maps can be complicated things; they can obscure more than they reveal, depending on who is using it and what is understood. In Songlines, Bruce Chatwin introduces the aboriginal idea of mapping out the world through song, beginning with the unforgiving terrain of western Australia. In modern times, they have been used in reconnaissance missions, assassination attempts, and the division of urban areas. They can also be navigational charts that allude to the location where treasure is buried or even the cave where Osama bin Laden has been hiding all these years. In the following novels, maps are used as guides for the reader to understand the place described. They aid and abet our imagination, ensuring the suspension of disbelief that is necessary to fully take in the story. So what better way to start the immersion then to take this quiz? Just slide across the black boxes at the bottom of each page to reveal the answers (or to cheat).

Fantasy nerds — reveal yourselves! This is a map from a certain hefty novel by a certain man of letters who once worked on the “W” section of the Oxford English Dictionary. What book it is from?

Answer: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

This next map is from the debut novel of an author and illustrator with a famous older brother. (Hint: his brother is a filmmaker.)

Answer: Chuck Dugan is AWOL by Eric Chase Anderson

This was taken from an adventure novel by a Scottish author, which was first published in the late 1800s. The bottom of the map has been cut off, because it reveals too much!

Answer: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

This espionage novel later became the title for a Jimmy Buffet album. It’s also on The Observer‘s list of “the 100 greatest novels of all time.”

Answer: The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers

This truncated map is from a memoir that was first published in the 1960s. It is the sequel to another memoir, which was first published in Italian as Se questo è un uomo.

Answer: The Reawakening by Primo Levi

This is the map to a certain fantastic place from a beloved children’s book (and, ahem, an unnamed movie) and its surrounding countries.

Answer: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

This eccentric author is buried in Providence, RI and continues to be a considerable influence on horror fiction. Which fictional location is this from?

Answer: Dreamlands (location) by H.P. Lovecraft

This dystopian novel was written in the late 1940s by a certain erudite Englishman. The protagonist shares a first name with a WWII-era British politician and statesman.

Answer: 1984 by George Orwell

This prolific bespectacled author lives in the northern United States. What western/fantasy/horror/sci-fi mashup series is this from?

Answer: The Dark Tower series by Stephen King

This Anglo-Irish satirist was born in Dublin in the late 1600s. This map is from one of his most famous novels, which was published in the mid 1700s and was recently made into a terrible movie starring Jack Black.

Answer: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift