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The Atlas of Literature Hardcover – September 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: De Agostini Editions (Adult) (September 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1899883681
  • ISBN-13: 978-1899883684
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 8.6 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #557,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A novel comes alive to the reader when he or she can relate to its landscape or themes. The Victorian world of Dickens and Austen, for example, becomes much clearer to a reader removed from it by 150 years through such excellent surveys as What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew (Simon & Schuster, 1993). Novelist and retired professor of American Studies Malcolm Bradbury has compiled a much more inclusive picture of the world of literature in The Atlas of Literature.

Drawing on the critical talents of fellow writers and academics, Bradbury looks at places in literature and how they affect and are affected by writers. The book is arranged in eight sections detailing various literary periods from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to contemporary times. Each of these sections is divided into chapters that deal with locations such as France during the Enlightenment, London in the 1890s, or the world after the Wall. The chapter on Thomas Hardy's Wessex, for example, examines the area of southwest England in which the author set the majority of his novels, noting the corresponding real places and their significance to Hardy. The chapter on divided Ireland, on the other hand, discusses the influence of "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland on the writings of Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel, and others. The text is illustrated with 450 black-and-white photographs, drawings, and maps. The volume concludes with brief biographical notes about authors discussed, a list of sites around the world associated with famous authors that can be visited, a bibliography by country, and an index.

This is not an atlas in the conventional sense of the word but is a worthy addition to literature collections. It will be of interest to the beginner and the advanced scholar alike. It does not compare in scope or breadth to other standard literature reference tools, such as the Oxford Companion series, but covers the impact of place on literature and vice versa. Public and academic libraries will probably want to add this to the circulating collection.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Judy K. Polhemus TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Hogwart's School? It's in England somewhere. Is it real or imagined?
Jefferson, Mississippi, in Yoknapatawpha County. That one is real, right?

Place names in literature. Some are so real as to defy the reality of their imagined creation. J.K. Rowling and William Faulkner set stories in time and places that are now mythic in purport. George Orwell simply chose real places to turn his anti-fascist sensibilities. There is nothing the least bit imagined about Aleksandr Solzenhitsyn's gulag prisons.

Finding these places, real and imagined, on the map makes "The Atlas of Literature" a welcome addition to one's personal library. Editor Malcolm Bradbury worked four years with contributers in putting together this geographical history of literature beginning with the medieval period and concluding with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 when the world once again changed dramatically.

I arbitrarily selected one writer to demonstrate what this atlas does. The chapter is called "James Fenimore Cooper's Frontier." One map depicts the "Acquisition of Indian Territory" and "Expansion of European Settlement," two topics that dominated Cooper's writing. One set of novels was concerned with Leatherstocking, who represented this western movement. Another map shows the settings of the five novels in the saga. Two paintings by N.C. Wyeth highlight two of the books. A painting by Romantic nature painter Thomas Cole depicts the "romantic vision of the dying wilderness...as the march of civilization prospered" (85).

I turn from chapter to chapter trying to settle on one more section and think, How do I choose? It is ALL fascinating.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Roberts on July 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be a wonderful addition to my library. It is truly a feast for lovers of literature. I have only one dissenting comment. Why the omission of Gore Vidal? With the inclusion of Norman Mailer, surely this omission is an oversight and not calculated. Overall, though, a marvelous book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jenny on January 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
An A to Z comprehensive guide through the long road of Literature.Almost everything about books and authors were covered in this atlas. From Austen to Zweig.Categorized into various notable sections.Namely,The Middle Ages and The Renaissance, The Age of Reason, The Romantics,The Age of Industrialism and Empire, The Age of Realism, The Modern World,After the 2nd World War and the World Today. Each part were comprehensively arranged and illustrated with famous examples and represented by the authors from that era. It covered almost all the important events and people in Literature. I enjoyed this atlas because each part was unique yet vitally contributed to the whole. It's handy to get all these Literary information compressed into a single book. It also gave a brief biographies of authors and showed their birthplace and journeys through their life and their famous works and contributions to the society. Well-done with great pictures and informative maps,notes,facts and figures. It showed the trends of Literary world and how it shaped our lives and affected our thoughts.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Frederic C Putnam on March 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a magnificently produced, oversized volume, lavish with maps, pictures, and more than eighty essays by well-credentialed scholars, highly worth reading by anyone interested in knowing "where" events described in fiction occurred in the real world, as well as where various authors lived, wrote, and died. It also portrays well the changing cultures in and about which they wrote--this is all very helpful to the general reader who would otherwise need to comb an encyclopedia (or Wikipedia!) for much of this information, and even then would probably not be able to put together such coherent descriptions.

Its very success at what it does accomplish, however, makes its failures all the more disappointing. Edicotr Malcolm Bradbury chose to begin with Dante rather than Homer, ignoring not only the literature of Greece and Rome, but also Anglo-Saxon (e.g., Beowulf, Pearl, Gawaine & the Green Knight) and Middle French (Chretien de Troyes) and English literature (apart from Chaucer). Also noticeable by their absence are some of the most popular writers of the 20th century (e.g., C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien), as well as a number of "major minor" authors such as Christina Rossetti, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Hilaire Belloc, Flannery O'Connor (mentioned once), to mention only a few. These choices would be more understandable if its survey began with Homer; it is far less so given that two-thirds of the book is given to the past 140 years (since Dickens and Twain).

It is fairly Anglo-centric, occasionally mentioning European writers (e.g., Ibsen), but ignoring many considered "important" or "major" national writers (e.g., Sigrid Undset, Nobel Prize for Literature, 1928), as well as Asian, Arabic, Arican, and South American writers (Salman Rushdie is a major exception).
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Format: Hardcover
If you love reading all the classics and wish to learn more about their importance within modern history, or want to view the other side of the spectrum and see how the progress of western culture influenced the greatest writers through the ages, this volume should be included in your personal library.

Bear with me: I know this introduction sounds as if I were lauding some ponderous academic tome that would bore any casual reader to death, but do not be fooled, this book is actually a pleasant surprise and an entertaining read from cover to cover despite its informative nature. Well, I find learning new things to be very entertaining.

This book is filled with concise but intriguing chapters from two to four pages long, each chapter focusing on an important period of history, beginning with the Middle Ages / Renaissance and ending with culture and the world after the fall of the Berlin wall. Famous authors and their history-making masterpieces of literature are discussed in each chapter, some authors, cities, countries and geographical areas receive special attention for certain centuries or epochs, like the sections entitled "Cervante's Spain", "Washington Irving's Europe" or "London in the 1890s". It is quite useful if you have just bought a copy of 'Gulliver's Travels' or 'Wurthering Heights', to cite a few examples, and want to understand their general background, the authors who wrote them, the cultural history of the times, and how these works may have influenced the creativity of other writers.
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