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Mapping Early Modern Worlds
Imaginary Places

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Imaginary Places

Shakespeare has Theseus describe the act of poetic creation in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: ". . . as imagination bodies forth/ The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen/ Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing/ A local habitation and a name." The degree to which mapping became a habit of thought in early modern Europe is evident in the various attempts to render imaginary places cartographically; literally, to give "to airy nothing/ A local habitation and a name." These places range from the moral geography of Good and Evil represented in an early English morality play and a Dutch emblem book, to the ideal state of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, and the amorous/political landscape of a seventeenth-century romance.




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Sir Thomas More. Utopia. Basel, 1518.

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