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Old Map, New Map (Assignment 2)
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Old Map, New Map (Assignment 2)

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The map from The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe is striking in the division it suggests between the Old World and the New World. It shows us two views of the same sphere, but the two-dimensional depiction leaves us with the impression that these halves of the world are all but separate, joined only at the equator. I wonder what we might glean from the map's presentation about eighteenth-century readers' conceptions of Crusoe's voyages--particularly relative to our own. Would they have considered Crusoe's trip from West Africa to Brazil especially meaningful? How would that square with Defoe's cursory treatment of the trip in the text (29)? What might a specifically twenty-first-century map (e.g., a Google map with locations marked) suggest about contemporary understandings of Robinson Crusoe's geography? Perhaps, I could argue, it betrays a certain expectation of geographical exactitude in adventure narratives. And perhaps it shows that the present-day reader's perception of locations has been flattened, with cities to be marked with the same blue tags as continents.