Mapping Love (and everything else that comes with it)
Putting biology (and cynicism) aside for the day, I tracked down some whimsical maps of love from yesteryear. First on the list is a 1904 postcard from the Niall Murphy Collection, “Map Shewing the Course of the Truelove River.” Charting the treacherous dangers en route to the Sea of Matrimony, which range from the Valley of Disdain to the Misery Marsh, the postcard makes love (and marriage) seem like something to avoid at all costs. That said, the Truelove River does become ever deeper and wider along the way, as measured in the novel unit of Loversmiles.
In contrast to the dismal view adopted by the aforementioned postcard, Ernest Dudley Chase’s 1943 “Pictorial Map of Loveland” makes coupledom out to be nothing but fun (though of a rather chaste variety). Loveland, surrounded by the Oceans of Joy and the Serenity Sea, includes landmarks such as the Great Wall of Affection, the Happy as Clams Shoals, and the Carefree Cave. Clearly Chase was in love when he made this map.
Two European maps of the romantic experience take a more balanced approach. The first, “Carte de Tendre” (Map of Tenderness), a 17th-century French map by the writer Madeleine de Scudéry, depicts the ups and downs of love as peaks and valleys, with all bodies of water (The Dangerous Sea, the Lake of Indifference, and the Sea of Enmity) bearing the threat of imminent drowning (whether from boredom or passion, the author is unclear).
Lastly, an antique German map, “Das Reich der Liebe” (The Empire of Love), created by Johann Gottlob Immanuel Breitkopf in 1777, presents a geography marked by the full spectrum of emotions that accompany love in all of its forms and stages.
- GABIET DER JUGEND = Land of Youth (Forest of Love, Kiss Field, Flirting Game, Charm Castle, Stream of Wishes, Worry-Free, Joy’s Home, Beautiful House, Source of Joy, Sweet Look, Wisecrack Place, Rich River, Warning Castle)
- GABIET DER RUHE = Land of Rest (Nightcap, Grandfather City, Equanimity, Manly Place)
- GABIET DER TRAURENDEN LIEBE = Land of Mourning Love (Anger’s Home, Flood of Tears, Whim Mountain, Complaint Place, Hopeless Mountains, Loathing, Strict Place, Swamp of Profanity, Desert of Melancholy)
- GABIET DER LUSTE = Land of Lust (Illness Valley, Weak Home, Intoxication Field, Lechery, Hospital)
- GABIET DER GLUCKLICHEN LIEBE = Land of Happy Love (Lust Wood, Answered Prayers, Pleasant View, Enjoyment, Tenderness, Good Times, Affection Farm, Satisfaction, Compliance Mountain, Fountain of Joy, Marriage Harbor, Reward City, Peace of Mind, Bliss Town)
- GABIET DER HAGESTOLZE = Bachelor Country (Stupidity Town, Rejection Place, Irritation, Indifference, Place of Contempt, Reprehensibility, Old Age Mountains, Separation, Hat, Obstinacy, Wrangler Hall, Exasperation Heath, Hamlet of Death, Sea of Doubt)
- GABIET DER FIXEN IDEEN = Land of Obsessions (Place of Sighs, Desire Town, Unrest, City of Dreams, Bridge of Hope, Disloyalty, Sweet River of Tears, Little Town of Instincts)
UPDATE 2/23/2013: Maria Popova posted a link to this map of a woman’s heart, The Open Country of Woman’s Heart, in 2011. Subtitled “Exhibiting its internal communications, and the facilities and dangers to Travellers therein,” the map provides a glimpse into gender stereotypes of the nineteenth century. It should be noted that the map was created by a man. (As if there were any question).