finished: a mapmaker’s dream

A Mapmaker’s Dream: The Meditations Of Fra Mauro, Cartographer To The Court Of Venice by James Cowan [9780091834999]

An oddish book. Short at around 150 pages; it must be said that I grabbed this for its shortness with the intention of getting a good start on my 2010 tally. A reflective book. One I inherited from my father’s collection. It is a translation of the thoughts of a cartographer in the 16th century. He spends his life as a monk in a monastery, experiencing the world through the visitations of the explorers who come to visit him. These visits are a way of contributing to his grand project of mapping the world, or as much of it as was known at the time. This is a thoughtful, reflective, philosophical account of what may go into such a task. It’s as much about the inward journey as the outer, physical description. Learning about the peoples that inhabit other lands; what maps out a country or a land: is it just the physicality of its borders, its coastlines, or does it too, entail thinking about the inhabitants, the people, their ways, their interactions?

A really satisfying read for the moment I’m at. I have long had an interest in maps and mapping and this gives an insight to the difficulties, not to mention some sense of what went into the making of the ornate maps of the day.

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