Maps are a staple of fantasy and adventure literature, and one artist has undertaken the task of assembling a beautiful map that seeks to put together thousands of years of literary history in one diagram, titled Map of the Literature II.
Martin Vargic describes his work as one that shows “how the multitudes of diverse literary genres sprouted, branched, and eventually evolved to their modern state.” The map contains over 7000 points — authors, writers, poets, and more.
Every literary movement and a genre is its own continental realm. Every single dot on the map on the map represents a single author, and every tiny rhombus a single literary work. It takes just a few seconds to spot dozens of the best selling and most talented authors and their works.
Vargic explained to Tor.com that he’s long been interested in fantasy maps, and came up with the idea of Map of the Literature after seeing XKCD’s Map of the Internet. He came up with his own map of the internet, and in 2014, produced his first Map of the Literature. Recently, he’s gone back to revise it. “I decided that the current iteration of the “Map of the Literature”was far less comprehensive that I would like (not showing literary postmodernism, graphic novels, transgressive fiction and many important authors), and overall mediocre quality.”
Going back to the drawing board, he spent two months to rework the map, nearly doubling the number of points on his revised work.
To build the map, he started with a “rough outline of the literary movements and genres,” starting from the center of the map, and working his way outward. From there, he worked to select each genre’s most prominent figures and works. Each major author became their own country, while their major works are listed as cities within their borders.
In particular, Vargic noted that he wanted to highlight his favorite authors in the map: J.R.R. Tolkien, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Terry Pratchett, and others, and particularly made sure to feature Slovak and Czech authors from his own corner of the world.
The result is a dazzling piece, one that rewards visiting and searching to discover favorite authors and works, to see where they sit in the world. It reminds me of one particular poster that I have hanging on my office wall from Ward Shelley, “The History of Science Fiction.”
Vargic is selling posters of the map over on his Zazzle page.