It can be difficult for a reader to imagine the setting and fully understand the history of the locations in a novel when it is not presented in a visual method. When a novel takes place in a real-life setting, it can be mapped and better understood using Google Maps. Using Google Maps as a tool, Catherine Morland’s journey through Bath to Northanger Abbey can be more easily followed, and the relationships between locations and landmarks can be better understood. I would argue that Google Maps can make an otherwise complicated, confusing novel much more engaging and accessible.
I mapped the destinations of Hazel and Augustus while they're in Amsterdam in the novel The Fault in Our Stars. I've mapped the airport they arrive at and leave from, the hotel they stay at, the restaurant they eat at, Van Hounten's house, the Anne Frank House, and the park they go to near the end of their trip.
I was surprised that everything was a lot closer than I thought it was while reading the book, especially considering that the time spent in Amsterdam accounts for 63 pages of the book, which is a little over 20 percent. Hazel has lung cancer and it is difficult for her to walk very far, so I knew that it couldn't have been that much walking, but I still thought it was more than it was. The farthest they went was to the Anne Frank house, which was only 1.15 miles away, and they rode in a car. To Oranjee, the restaurant, they rode the tram, and that was less than a mile away. The furthest that they walked was to the park half a block from their hotel. I thought it was weird to see how small this map really was because reading the book, it seems like they're going really far because so much happens in the time they are travelling, but they're actually not.
I used Google Maps to map the locations, fictional homes placed in real towns, of my favorite novel, Pride and Prejudice. I used points to show the different locations mentioned, with different colors representing different homes or towns. I also used the map to show the probably route that Elizabeth Bennet travels with her aunt and uncle, the Gardiners. All of the locations from their trip are in the same color of blue to show the route that they took. Unlike in Araby, there are no clear directions in the novel as to exactly their path, but multiple cities and towns are mentioned that they stop through. So, I mapped the towns and drew a connect-the-dots-style pathway between them to suggest how they might have traveled.
Using Google maps to trace my favorite book gave me a whole new perspective on the story. I had not realized just how far away everything was from each other. When reading the novel, distance didn't seem to me to be an incredible factor. I assumed that all the towns mentioned were relatively near each other location-wise. I had no idea that Rosings Park and Pemberley were 145 miles apart, as the crow flies. I would have thought that they were much closer, seeing as how Darcy just shows up at his aunt's house because he wants to. I would have thought that London would have been a bit farther from Longbourne than 22 miles, since the Bingley's early withdrawal to town created so much drama for the small town. Using the map is a whole new way to experience the story, to learn more about what life was like for the characters. I really enjoyed this project!
I have to say, I've been quite captivated by my wandering through the streets of Dublin. I've been pretty shocked by the juxtaposition of old and new. The picture below is what the boy would have most likely seen as he walked down Buckingham St towards the station:
This is Connolly Station. The building looks like it hasn't been altered too much, so I assume that this is what the boy would have seen also:
It's really cool seeing some of these buildings and streets and getting the feeling of walking through them in person. I can only imagine what character these faces take on at night. I bet that the streets of Dublin could be quite eerie (or at least to me) in the dark. If only Street View had a night feature...
I mapped the first 9 to 10 chapters of The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud. This is a fantasy novel set in quasi-modern-day London ruled by magicians. The narrator is Bartimaeus, a djinni (a type of spirit) summoned by one of these magicians' apprentices and charged with stealing the titular artifact: the legendary "Amulet of Samarkand".
Bartimaeus claims to be over 4000 years old, and he refers often throughout the book to his adventures in various periods throughout ancient history. I have mapped these long-ago locations he mentions in the first 10 chapters, as well as the places in London he visits on his first night in London after being summoned in the present day.
The locations clustered around London itself are those between which he flees between during the night while carrying the valuable amulet he has been forced to steal by his master.
The really interesting thing about this map for me was that, when I went to try and connect the routes, I found I couldn't see exactly how Bartimaeus traveled. This is because he was going over buildings and "as the crow flies", but always with a fictional or unspecified intermediary place in between mentioned famous landmarks. As such, it isn't possible to plot his route.
After basically giving up on trying to pinpoint the exact location of the Araby market, I decided that it would be interesting to get a first-hand experience of the boy's journey in the story. Using street view in Google Maps, I decided to walk the route from North Richmond St, turned onto N Circular Rd, onto Summerhill Parade, and finally onto Buckingham St. I know that my experience is a century removed from the boy's walk, but I was still struck by the streets of Dublin.
The first thing that surprised me is that the building in this neighborhood, even in modern times, are very small. Nothing is over 2 or 3 stories. I am used to big cities having tall buildings and narrow streets. Dublin, on the other hand, has short buildings and the streets are quite average-sized. However, the streets still felt incredibly claustrophobic. There are so many buildings packed together on a single street that you feel almost always like you are walking down an alley or corridor. The other surprising thing was the maze of streets you walk through. I am used to the grid system layout of Tulsa; it is simple and logical. Dublin is one jumbled mess. It is a labrynth. It seems like every hundred feet some side street branched off into another corridor. I felt trapped. It made me think how Joyce must have felt walking through these streets, using them even as inspiration for his works. There must have been such a unique atmosphere (especially back then when I'm sure the conditions of the streets were much, much worse). The streets of Dublin seem to be characters in and of themselves in Joyce's works, and I can certainly see why that is.
I mapped the pathway that the boy takes to get to the Araby bazaar. Using details from the text as well as my own research to find more specific locations, I mapped out the trip that the protagonist makes going to the bazaar. Each segment of his journey is colored differently to represent the walking, tram ride, train ride and final walk to the bazaar. Mapping the route of this story was a really fun experience, getting to play around with google maps with multiple trial-and-error moments to learn how to use the map best.