Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 16. Nr. Juli 2006

9.6. Spreading the Word: Texts and the Text
Herausgeberin | Editor | Éditeur: Mihaela Irimia (University of Bucharest)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

Maps and Texts: Reading Literary Maps – The Case of The Riddle of the Sands

Matthew Graves (University of Provence, Aix-Marseille I)


I brooded by the hour together over the map, all the details of which I well remembered. Sitting by the fire in the housekeeper's room, I approached that island in my fancy from every possible direction; I explored every acre of its surface; I climbed a thousand times to that tall hill they call the Spy-glass, and from the top enjoyed the most wonderful and changing prospects. Sometimes the isle was thick with savages, with whom we fought, sometimes full of dangerous animals that hunted us, but in all my fancies nothing occurred to me so strange and tragic as our actual adventures. (Stevenson, Treasure Island, 36)


The fascination of 19th-20th century Anglophone literature for geographies imaginary and referential seems to converge on the cartographic trope, embodied in the iconic figure of Stevenson’s Jim Hawkins, "brooding" over the map of an island whose "bearings" the narrator withholds from the reader " because there is still treasure not yet lifted" there (Stevenson 1).

Stevenson famously claimed to have mapped Treasure Island before he narrated it, implying the primacy of chorography over chronology in his creative order of composition. Compare this to Bruce Chatwin’s Patagonia: in the epitext "I Always Wanted to Go to Patagonia" the territory is prefigured by a map in gouache, and on the first page of In Patagonia, by a cabinet of curiosities - that Victorian object-map of collectables (Borm & Graves 3; Chatwin 1)

When considering literary maps Stevensons’ Treasure Island springs first to mind both for its cartographic construction - the pirates’ treasure-hunt is narrated in map coordinates - and for the density of its spatial symbols: the Captain’s spyglass; Spy-Glass hill (wreathed in cloud) on which the treasure is buried; Spy-Glass Inn where we first encounter Long John Silver; and above all, the lexical field of landscape and vision (the eye-patch, Blindman Pew, Jim’s ‘weather-eye’).

Geographia oculus historiae: to extend the aphorism, with Childers locating his novel at the crossroads of the grand geopolitical narrative, Geography becomes the eye of ‘histoire’ - story.(1) I suggest we might read the literary map as the oculus of Fiction, the spy-glass which reveals its spatial strategies through the narrator’s ‘mapping eye/I’, from the premiss that "all cartography is an intricate, controlled fiction" (Cosgrove, "Landscape and Landschaft" 3; qtd. in Harley 287)(2).


Cartographies of Fiction

The contemporary critical interest in literary maps can be seen as part of the ‘spatial turn’ in the Human and Social Sciences, a critical development that has seen geographers like Felix Driver or Richard Phillips treat mapping as a metaphor for the textualities of Geography Militant(3). From there it seems but one small step, though it calls for a methodological leap, to use the map as a tool of textual analysis. The novel - long presumed to be un-mappable - is increasingly attracting the attentions of literary map-readers: notably, Franco Moretti in his Atlas of the 19 th century European novel, or in his more recent monograph ‘Maps, Graphs and Trees’. Moretti understands the literary map as a graphic model or diagram, a means of preparing a text for analysis, to reveal: "Shapes, relations, structures. Patterns" ("Maps, Graphs and Trees" 94). If the map seems well-adapted to such usage, it is because, as Christian Jacob puts it: ‘La carte donne à penser autant qu’à voir’ - the Map is an instrument of thought as much as of vision (16), or - as Denis Cosgove has suggested - because it is located at the interface between narrative and spatiality ("Mappings" 1-23).

The work of human geographers like Brian J. Harley and Denis Cosgrove on mapping suggests that map-reading is analogous to the reading of literary text: both imply a common understanding of how information is structured. The map-author relies on the reader’s knowledge of cartographic scale, projection, symbolization and prior experience of its referent. Indeed, we might distinguish between maps to be viewed (as in adverts and propaganda) and maps to be read: the latter requiring an understanding of context and objective. Mapping emerges as an ideogrammatical form of ‘earth-writing’ with its own syntax, vocabulary and idiom.

Before applying this critical insight to a reading of The Riddle of the Sands, a preliminary clarification of the term ‘literary map’ is called for. It commonly used to refer to the geography of cultural heritage where authors and their works are plotted onto the map of their region as a guide for literary tourists. Alternatively, it has been applied to maps like Everett Henry’s ‘The Voyage of the Pequod’, which charts the narrative of Moby Dick onto a Mercator projection map of the world. Literary maps in the Library of Congress definition "record the location of places associated with authors and their literary works", or they "serve as a guide to their imaginative worlds."(4)

By contrast, here the term ‘literary map’ will be used principally to describe the textually-embedded map, in graphic or text form, a projection of the narrative and its geographies, a graphic interface ‘where words and worlds collide’, where the author is also map-author and the reader is invited to become a map-reader in a performative way.

The embedded literary map can take a number of different forms. I would like to propose a three-fold typology, defined in terms of both the map’s mode of insertion in the text and its narrative function.

1) Para-textual maps: the frontispiece, or appended map. The examples that come most readily to mind belong to juvenile literature: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons. Or to travel literature: Graham Greene’s Journey Without Maps (which, subverting the reader’s expectations, is prefaced by a map). The frontispiece map is an ideographic emblem which prefigures the text - like the map in the first edition of Thomas More’s Utopia it has a declarative function - while at the same time inviting the reader to engage in the spatialisation of narrative.

2) Intra-textual maps: maps which are embedded in the narrative, intradiegetic place-markers (such as the sketch map in The Riddle of the Sands). These are to be distinguished from inter-textual maps, which refer to an external geography, referential or imaginary: for instance, The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings; Treasure Island or Utopia. Any of the three classes of the literary map may present an inter-textual dimension.

3) Logo-textual maps(5): word-maps, or narrated maps that are pure text, bereft of graphic form, but which perform an iconic function(6). Like Hannay’s map in The Thirty-Nine Steps, they are language constructions whose spatial extension is left to the imagination of the reader, creating the illusion of mimesis: "The map gave me some notion of my whereabouts, and told me the two things I wanted to know - where the main railway to the south could be joined and what were the wildest districts near at hand" (38). Buchan’s logo-textual map combines chronology/timetables and chorography/landscape as locational markers in a Deleuzian "ligne de fuite" into ‘wild Britain’ (47).


Maps para-textual and intra-textual, or maps-as-texts. Maps logo-textual, or texts-as-maps.

While all solicit a performative mapping process, the logo-textual map elicits a mental cartography, drawing upon the reader’s cognitive geography. Few fictions feature maps of the first two classes, but many have logo-textual maps, and all possess a geography, a spatiality, which is inherently mappable: "Mapping, after all, is not solely a medium for communication, but is also a tool of analysis and discovery" (Monmonier 12). It may be useful to see the distinction between literary maps of the logo-textual (as opposed to graphic) forms in terms of the contrast that Cosgrove proposes between chorographic mapping, which is visual and sensory, and geographical mapping, which is mathematical and technical.("Mappings" 20).

The rarity of literary maps in novels points to a degree of genre confinement: maps would seem to be restricted to juvenile literature, fantasy, adventure novels, travel writing - all genres where the geographical trope is prominent in the narrative construction. Yet it is significant that the map metaphor has emerged as a characteristic trope of postcolonial and postmodern literatures: witness Rushdie’s "world mapped by stories" in Imaginary Homelands (Rushdie 232).

This paper sets outto assay the uses of mapping in literature, beyond metaphor and peritext, in narrative construction and analysis. If it takes as its case study a classic of modern (rather than of postmodern) literature, it is because of the prominence of its geographical theme - territoriality, seafaring and ‘fin de siècle’ geopolitics. Erskine Childers’, The Riddle of the Sands (1903) is a novel of adventure on the cusp of the Victorian and Edwardian worlds, and is purported to be the ‘first modern spy thriller’(7). Childers’ novel is characterised by the density of its cartographic references: some fifty occurrences of ‘map/mapping/maps’ punctuate the text; while there are as many as ninety-five of chart/charted/chart, amounting to an occurrence every other page(8). The Riddle of the Sands is constructed around a series of five maps (including two sea-charts and a sketch-map) which are integral to its narrative development. The novel’s maps cover each of the aforementioned three categories: the para-textual (Map A); the intra-textual (Map B, Charts A & B, the Sketch-map); and the logo-textual: narrated ‘word-maps’, such as Carruther’s Ordnance pocket map (231).

The Riddle of the Sands is typically read as a geopolitical novel, a premonitory vision of the Great War. In his account of the adventure literature of the Edwardian period, the historian Niall Ferguson’s classifies it as belonging to a distinctive sub-genre, the ‘spy fever’ novel of the turn of the century:

"In Erskine Childers’s famous yarn The Riddle of the Sands (1903), the heroes Carruthers and Davies stumble across evidence of a German plan whereby multitudes of sea-going lighters, carrying full loads of soldiers (...) should issue simultaneously in seven ordered fleets from seven shallow outlets and, under the escort of the Imperial navy, traverse the North Sea and throw themselves bodily upon English shores"(1).

However, what makes The Riddle more remarkable is its genre-hybridity. The Library of Congress classifies it under multiple headings: Adventure Fiction, Spy Stories, Sea Stories, Juvenile Literature (Children’s illustrated classics) and even Alternative Histories.(9) Moreover, it is a novel whose popularity has far outlived the socio-political context of its time to run to twenty-eight editions.(10) Childers is clearly no G.A. Henty, hagiographer of Empire. A parallel that deserves more attention is with Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1902), with which Childers’ novel is near-contemporary.(11) Both authors share a concern for Geography writ large, which resurfaces in their non-fiction writings: Conrad’s ‘Geography and Some Explorers’ and Childers’ Home Rule(12) which showcases a Saidian sense of "the struggle for geography" (6). Yet there is a gulf in their experience and status. This was to be Childer’s only novel, and its author’s reputation remains insecure to this day in the canon of English Literature: there is a tragic hiatus between the Childer’s of The Riddle (1903), the English sea-faring patriot, and the Irish nationalist who was executed by Free State forces in 1921 for membership of the I.R.A.(13)


The Geographies of the Novel

The Riddle is built around the archetypal plot of a voyage of discovery and return, with a dialectical structure of departure and arrival, centre and periphery, home and abroad. When Foreign Office official Carruthers embarks with fellow Oxonian Davies on a pleasure cruise in the Baltic aboard the Dulcibella, his friend takes him on a voyage back in space-time to retrace the yacht’s passage through the North Sea and solve the mystery of its stranding. There they uncover a secret German plan to invade England from the East Frisian coast using shallow-draft troop ships issuing from seven tidal channels under cover of the islands and the labyrinthine sands. Together the friends expose and disrupt the plot, apprehend the chief conspirator (Dollmann, a turncoat Englishman), deliver his innocent daughter Clara, and escape to England by sail via Holland.

The geo-narrative of The Riddle navigates a liminal world, ‘twixt land and sea’, given graphic form in the dialectic of Map and Chart. Its principal setting is The North Sea, which is at once a space of liberty and of closure: mare liberum, mare clausum. Indeed, the ‘Stygian’ blackness of the North Sea is a recurrent motif (100,165): "(...) the steamer as she slid through the calm channels of the Thames estuary, passed the cordon of scintillating lightships that watch over the sea-roads to the imperial city like pickets round a sleeping army, and slipped out into the dark spaces of the North Sea" (24).

There is a sustained tension throughout The Riddle between the teleology of the spy novel - the Grand Design of conspiracy and nation-state rivalry against the background of The ‘Great Game’ - and the tellurian sands and archipelagos of the sea story, with its narrative peripateia played out along a fractal coastline. The novel draws on a classical geometry of form which Denis Cosgrove has analysed in terms of the opposition between periplus and peripateia. Periplus is the descriptive circuit in Greek geography(14), the linear progression with a coastal perspective which distinguishes inside from out and organizes totality and unity; the territorializing process indispensable to map framing. Whereas peripateia is a meandering, linear progress, synonymous with uncertainty and the failure of vision and knowledge (Cosgrove, "Mappings" 10). In The Riddle of the Sands the two are held in tension: the de-territorializing, re-territorializing periplus and the peripatetic voyage of the Dulcibella cast adrift in a mystery.

Verisimilitude is heightened by the narrative’s inscription in a referential geography which the novel’s Maps and Charts validate graphically. The maps’ fixed coordinates and political borderlines serve to anchor the narrative in the real. As does the Preface, in which the narrator poses as editor, establishing his credentials as the ‘reliable narrator’ of what purports to be a ‘non-fiction novel’(15):

"It was arranged that I should edit the book; that 'Carruthers' should give me his diary and recount to me in fuller detail and from his own point of view all the phases of the 'quest', as they used to call it; that Mr 'Davies' should meet me with his charts and maps and do the same; and that the whole story should be written, as from the mouth of the former, with its humours and errors, its light and its dark side, just as it happened; with the following few limitations. The year it belongs to is disguised; the names of persons are throughout fictitious; and, at my instance, certain slight liberties have been taken to conceal the identity of the English characters" (13-14).

Thus the geography of The Riddle is established as referential, but - we might add - with the Stevensonian caveat: "nothing occurred... so strange and tragic as our actual adventures" (36).

The reader/map-reader is invited to envision the novel as a triptych of geographies unfolding along an east-west axis: the Eastern Frisian Islands; the three estuaries of the Jade, the Weser and the Elbe; and the Baltic coast of Schleswig-Holstein, a recent division emphasised by the map selection. To each narrative panel there is a corresponding map or chart: Carruthers and Davies’ meeting in Schleswig and their cruise along the Baltic coast is referred to Map A - a General Map (to illustrate the cruise of the Dulcibella), but also Chart A Illustrating the Stranding of the Dulcibella; the spying episode at Memmert to Map B, of East Friesland, and Chart B, illustrating the dinghy’s course west to the island, but also Map C - the sketch map of the salvage dépot, the core location of the episode; and for the dénouement - the solving of the riddle of ‘The Seven Siels’ on land and at sea around Norderney - the text refers to a combination of Map B, Chart B, with Map A (for the return voyage).(16)

The reading pact thus established involves the text-reader in the performative process of map-reading and of plotting the narrative onto the appended Maps and Charts:

"It was on the edge of one of these tidal swatchways that the yacht was now lying. It is called Stiker’s Gat, and you cannot miss it (at page 68) if you carry your eye westward along our course from Cuxhaven’" (105).

"How we had reached it (Memmert Balje) was incomprehensible to me at the time, but the reader will understand by comparing my narrative with the dotted line on the chart" (92).(17)

However, the narrative geographies of The Riddle are never linear and compartmentalized, always circular and relative. The relativity of space is illustrated by Map A: embedded in Carruther’s narrative of the cruise through the Baltic is Davies’ narration of the grounding of the Dulcibella off the coast of Frisia, recounted in an extended analepsis.

We might thus envisage the Map’s function in The Riddle of the Sands as that of a chronotopic surface, organising the relations between time and space (and by extension character) in the narrative (Bakhtine 237). For example, Carruthers brings Davies a prismatic compass whose purpose, at first obscure, is only clarified upon their return to the North Sea: it is to be used to chart the coastal channels for strategic espionage (105).The prismatic compass functions variously as an oculus, a spy-glass, and the detective’s magnifying glass - all constructions that are suggested by the intertextual geography of the Riddle, whose genre-boundaries are sketched out by references to Sherlock Holmes (77), Matthew Arnold (and his sea-poem ‘The naked shingles of the world’) (112), Cowper’s Sailing Tours (172), and Stevenson’s Treasure Island: "nor was there an empty apple-barrel, such as Jim of Treasure Island found so useful" (253).. The Dulcibella’s Master, Davies, is characterized as the very embodiment of the Map/Chart - the narrator’s ‘pilot’. In a key passage, he is described with chart on knee, absorbed in "these three objects - compass, watch and chart" (190). This is the caricatural mapping of ‘Geography Bewitched’, or character-as-map. Davies has no time, no past as such, no depth (his personality is described as "one-dimensional"), but as the Master of the yacht Dulcibella, he has space.


Spatial dialectics

If the Map/Chart is the chronotopic surface of The Riddle, then the ship is its chief chronotopic figure: there are seven ships for the seven siels (or locations) of the mystery. The conventional place-identity equation engenders a metonymical effect whereby the ship becomes an extension of character in an ongoing chassé-croisé between the principal characters Carruthers and Davies, their foils Herr Dollmann and Fräulein Dollmann, and the ships they sail: the Dulcibella and the antinomic Medusa(18) (compare the ‘mirroring’ of the German wrecks ship the Kormaran and the French bullion wreck the Corinne). The cramped spaces of the Dulcibella’s cabin parody the chronotope of the drawing-room in the 18th-19th century novel and the enclosure(s) of the private sphere: in The Riddle, the ‘tainted atmosphere’ of confinement is repeatedly opposed to the ‘wholesomeness’ of the outside air(19) to create a ‘moral’ space characterised by openness and male endeavour. A dialogic interaction emerges between the local and the regional, the bordered and the grounded - the private sphere - and the unbounded spatiality and mobility of the sea - the public sphere.The Dulcibella navigates the tidal margins between the two. The yacht is gendered feminine, extra-territorialized, she is "that frail atom of English soil, their first guerdon of home and safety" (268). Ship of (good) fortune more than ship of state, the Dulcibella is a converted lifeboat, saviour of a nation ‘in peril on the seas’.

Into this dialectical logic step Davies and Carruthers, the hearty embodiment of the figure of the English amateur - unprofessional, but resourceful, a liberal foil for the technocratic servants of the modern nation-state: Commander Von Brüning of the warship Blitz and the engineer and chief conspirator Böhme.(20) But the space that helps define character is never closed, uni-dimensional and static: identity is open and mobile and can be shaped and reshaped through Geography. From effete Foreign Office high-flyer in London(21), Carruthers is transformed into the intrepid adventurer in his passage through the North Sea; the dull, amateurish Davies with his ‘dog German’ becomes skilled navigator and romantic pilot in the course of the same passage; while Dollmann passes through a spectrum of identities: first German, then Swede, to revert to anonymity as ‘Lieutenant X’ of the Royal Navy.

The chronotope of narrator and reader as hidden observers of the private sphere of the 18th-19th century novel is reworked in the episode where Carruthers eavesdrops on the conspirators in the wrecks depot at Memmert, overhearing their conversation through an open window and the "four sibilant nouns and a (place) name" (204) that form the substance of the plot.(22) It is here that the ingredients of spy fiction - the double-occupied space, with its epistemic layering of surface (known) and depth (secret) are expressed in terms of a ‘map silence’: "A map crackled and I knew they were bending over it"(202).(23) The sketch-map (Map C) that accompanies the episode provides surface perspective only: the map is determined, non-performative (a trait shared with Charts A and B).


Mapping the narrative

The chronotopes of spying and mapping thus converge to form the enigma at the heart of The Riddle of the Sands. The riddle is a jigsaw puzzle to be reassembled by the reader (126), like the chart with the square cut out that Davies and Carruthers use to navigate the Dulcibella’s dinghy in the dark to Memmert (213).(24) The map is a mnemonic aid to project the reader textually into a place he/she knows. The epistemic function of the map is to provide site/insight/knowledge: as Carruthers puts it succinctly, "this I knew from the chart" (106).

How the reader is elicited to perform the mapping process, the manner of this spatial reassemblage, is revealing in itself. Map-knowledge is fundamentally a problem of space and therefore scale: "The enlargement or reduction of the space of phenomena alters their form, their meaning, their interrelations" (Cosgrove, "Mappings" 9). Thus, at the climax of the plot, the narrator abruptly switches from chart to map, from sea to land, and changes scale:

"At the bookstall at Emden I bought a pocket ordnance map of Friesland, on a much larger scale than anything I had used before...’

[There is of course, no space to reproduce this, but here and henceforward the reader is referred to Map B.]" (238).

The riddle/enigma at the heart of the Riddle of the Sands begets a map of Borgesian vision. A map large enough to reveal the hidden links between cause and effect would swamp the reader’s consciousness, and so Map B is a metonymic fragment of a map, a cut-out of manageable proportions, and with it location becomes relative, not absolute.(25) The climax of the novel is a defining ‘map moment’, a cartographic epiphany, where the narrator intuits the location of the missing pieces of this puzzle: "Standing astraddle on both seats, with the map close to the lamp, I greedily followed the course of the ‘tief’ southward (...) for the first time that day there came to me a sense of genuine inspiration" (239).

But these will only fall into place in the course of a periplus, when Carruthers ‘doubles back’ and descends from the train to survey the territory. This ‘doubling back’ echoes the earlier breaks in narrative linearity during the Baltic cruise and it underlines the tension between the diachronic and the synchronic development of the narrative.

At issue is the maps’ inscription in - rather than abstraction from (as in Utopia or Treasure Island) - the geographical referent. Do the maps of The Riddle of the Sands serve to anchor the narrative in the contextual and the contemporary, to validate the novel’s historicity? Or does the performative act of map-reading, by projecting the convolutions of narrative onto the rationalised palimpsest of the modern map forestall such a positivist, referential reading? Are we not led to conclude with the narrator, that "the chart was becoming unintelligible (...) a confusion of winding and intersecting lines and bald spaces?" (44).

The Riddle of the Sands is an example (albeit rare) of a novel where the narrator invites the reader to enter a metaphorical map-room, a space where the map’s "dimensionality (frees) the reader from (...) the controlling linearity of narrative description" (Cosgrove, "Mappings" 2). The performative map-readings that the novel solicits substitute circular patterns for narrative linearity, and in the repeated motif of ‘doubling back’ establish a dialectic of flow and countercurrent, a contrapuntal movement: or in terms of the dramatis personae, "thestrange cross-current connected with Dollmann’s daughter" (89). The novel’s maps project the narrative out of event-driven chronology and Euclidian ‘flat space’ into the dimension of relative space, so carrying our reading beyond the confines of the geopolitical novel.

Here lies the ambivalence of the map and the mapping act, by analogy to the Bakhtian chronotope. The Map can be read as evidence of the author’s or a culture’s world view, a means of appropriating the world, a projection of territoriality and an expression of power with its roots in the construction of the nation-state. It is no accident of story or history that the map of The Riddle’s dénouement is the commonest form of topographical map, one that is intimately linked to state power - an ordnance survey map. But the Map’s fragmentation, its ellipses and silences, the dialectics of spatiality that it engenders, open up alternative spaces of interpretation, where identity is not fixed but fluid, where the prospect of duality and biculturalism persists across borders and boundaries: in Carruthers’ fluent German or Von Brüning’s imperturbable civility, for instance. It is tempting to read Dollmann’s dual German-English identity as a projection of Childer’s own Anglo-Irishness. While the novel dramatises nation-state rivalry, it rejects nationalist propaganda and stereotyping: "Davies had no racial spleen" in him (97); the German charts are of "excellent quality" (92), compared to the "prehistoric rottenness of English charts" (76); "The English charts [are] useless" (125), the British charts "of no value" (277).

For the Edwardian chronotope of cartographic anxiety, we are therefore tempted to substitute that postmodern chronotope: "la ligne de fuite", the thin horizon’s line. So that the contemporary reader of The Riddle of the Sands might be moved to exclaim - intertextually - with Squire Trelawney: "Hang the treasure! [Hang the riddle!] It's the glory of the sea that has turned my head."(26)

© Matthew Graves (University of Provence, Aix-Marseille I)


The Riddle of the Sands (1903) - Maps and Charts.

Map A, pp.8-9.
General Map.

Chart A, p. 68.
Map to Illustrate the Sranding of the Dulcibella.

Map B, p.124.
East Friesland and the German or East Frisian Is.

Chart B, p.187.
Chart of Juist, Memmert, and part of Norderney

Sketch map, p.199.
‘A rough sketch of the scene,
as I partly saw and chiefly imagined it.’


(1) It is significant that Childers’ The Riddle of the Sands (1903) was near-contemporaneous with Halford Mackinder’s lecture to the Royal Geographical Society, "The Geographical Pivot of History" (1904), which founded the sub-discipline of geopolitics. Both express a millenarian anxiety that the global state-nation ‘Greater Britain’ will be overwhelmed by the continental powers allied to the forces of modernity.

(2) Harley quotes Muehrcke, Map use : reading, analysis, and interpretation, p.295.

(3) Phillips, Richard. Mapping Men and Empire - A Geography of Adventure. London: Routledge, 1997;

Driver, Felix. Geography Militant: Cultures of Exploration and Empire. Oxford: Blackwell, 2001.

(4) ‘The Voyage of the Pequod’ is one of a series of twelve literary maps by illustrator Everett Henry, a New York commercial artist, based on British and American literary classics and produced by the Harris-Seybold Company of Cleveland between 1953 and 1964. For a reproduction and the definition of literary maps see The Library of Congress web pages at: treasures/tri064.html

(5) My choice of terminology is determined by Anderson’s definition of the imperial map of the world as "the map-as-logo" (175).

(6) Cf. Edward’s map of Africa in Harold Pinter’s A Slight Ache, or Conrad’s map meditation in Heart of Darkness.

(7) The Modern Library U.S. edition has an introduction by Milt Bearden, chief of the CIA Soviet/East European division at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

(8) Or 2.8% of the total text.

(9) Compare the Library of Congress general classification: ‘GB-History-Invasions-Fiction’.

(10) According to the British Library catalogue: including the OUP, Penguin and Wordsworth Classic paperback editions.

(11) Compare the opening chapters of each: both novels start from London and the Thames estuary and involve voyages from the core into the periphery of empire.

(12) Of the Anglo-Irish Union, Childers comments it was "in defiance of geography."

(13) Shortly before his execution as a member of the IRA, Winston Churchill is reported to have stated of Childers that: "No man has done more harm or done more genuine malice or endeavoured to bring a greater curse upon the common people of Ireland than this strange being, actuated by a deadly and malignant hatred for the land of his birth."

(14) From Greek navigation of the Aegean archipelago.

(15) A conceit reinforced by the device of direct address, for instance: "Indulgent reader, you may be pleased to say that I had been very obtuse; and yet, with humility, I protest against the verdict" (258).

(16) See Appendix 1: The Riddle of the Sands - Maps and Charts.

(17) My italics. For a further example: "Note the spot marked - second rest." (194).

(18) Dulcibella (fam.): from the Latin dulcis, sweet and bellus, beautiful. Cf. Dowsabel: sweetheart, obsolete 16th century term. Medusa: the mortal woman transformed by Athena into a Gorgon, of such hideous appearance that those who looked at her were turned to stone.

(19) Carruthers on entering Dollmann’s drawing-room "the close heat of the room and its tainted atmosphere, succeeding so abruptly to the wholesome nip of the outside air, were giving me a faintness which this moral check lessened my power to combat" (219).

(20) "Böhme was my abstraction, the fortress whose foundations we were sapping, the embodiment of that sytematized force which is congenital to the German people" (229).

(21) Carruthers’ London is identified with spiritual decline, like Buchan’s London in The Thirty-Nine Steps.

(22) "The substance of the plot was still a riddle" (208).

(23) In a subsequent passage the narrator exclaims rhetorically: "Why the curtain, even?" "Because there are maps, stupid !" (203).

(24) Cf. "Bit by bit the fragments of the puzzle fell into order till a coherent whole was admubrated" (44).

(25) See the narrator’s footnote: "There is of course no space to reproduce this [the map], but here and henceforth the reader is referred to the small map on page 124" (238).

(26) Stevenson, Treasure Island, Squire Trelawney’s letter, Ch.7.


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Driver, Felix. Geography Militant: Cultures of Exploration and Empire . Oxford: Blackwell, 2001.

Ferguson, Niall. The Pity of War. New York: Basic, 1999.

Harley, J B. "Maps, Knowledge, Power." The Iconography of Landscape. Eds. Denis Cosgrove and Stephen Daniels. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988, 276-312.

Jacob, Christian. L’Empire des cartes. Paris: Albin Michel, 1992.

Monmonier, Marc. Mapping It Out. London: Chicago University Press, 1993.

Moretti, Franco. Atlas of the European Novel, 1800-1900. London: Verso, 1998.

. ---. "Graphs, Maps, Trees", New Left Review 26, Mar-Apr 2004.

Phillips, Richard. Mapping Men and Empire - A Geography of Adventure. London: Routledge, 1997.

Rushdie, Salman. Imaginary Homelands. London: Granta Books, 1992.

Said, Edward. Culture and Imperialism. London: Virago, 1993.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. Treasure Island. Oxford: OUP, 1985.

9.6. Spreading the Word: Texts and the Text

Sektionsgruppen | Section Groups | Groupes de sections

TRANS       Inhalt | Table of Contents | Contenu  16 Nr.

For quotation purposes:
Matthew Graves (University of Provence, Aix-Marseille I): Maps and Texts: Reading Literary Maps – The Case of The Riddle of the Sands
. In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 16/2005. WWW: ../../../index.htmtrans/16Nr/09_6/graves16.htm

Webmeister: Peter R. Horn     last change: 28.7.2006     INST