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“What I wanted was a map of exact scale, one that wasn’t just a representation but reality itself, the sort imagined by Lewis Carroll in “Sylvie and Bruno Concluded”:

‘”What do you consider the largest map that would be really useful?”

“About six inches to the mile.”

“Only six inches!” exclaimed Mein Herr. “We very soon got to six yards to the mile. Then we tried  a hundred yards to the mile. And then came the grandest idea of all! We actually made a map of the country on the scale of a mile to the mile!”

“Have you used it much?” I enquired.

It has never been spread out, yet,” said Mein Herr: “the farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country and shut out the sunlight! So we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well.”‘

“I suppose anyone who is homesick or lost wants that mile-to-mile correspondence. But Carroll’s map is pure fiction, and not only because of its outlandish scale. No map can be a perfect representation of reality; every map is an interpretation, which may be why writers are so drawn to them.”

For the original article, click here.

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