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I have constructed a geographical map that conveys the sheer vastness of the world that Adam and Eve must now inhabit and annotated it to show the diversity of places included so that the reader may understand why many of these names are included. However, Moretti is looking for more than just geography when constructing literary maps. He believes in extracting this information from the narrative to construct patterns: “Each pattern is a clue—a fingerprint of history, almost” (57). He has a rubric for making literary maps:

You choose a unit—walks, lawsuits, luxury goods, whatever—find its occurrences and place them in a space . . . . or in other words: you reduce the text to a few elements, and abstract them from the narrative flow, and construct a new artificial object like I have been discussing. And with a little luck, these maps will be more than the sum of their parts: they will possess ‘emerging’ qualities, which were not visible at the lower level. (53)

Thus, I have followed his example and rendered a map of the world with Eden at its center, surrounded by concentric rings of pagan places:

When looking at the concentric rings around Eden, it is clear that the four nearest cities are all strongholds of Islam and have important roles in trade—however, that trade is in luxury goods, not humans. On the next circle out, false idolatry in the form of the Taj Mahal and the Shalimar Gardens crop up, as do more sinister topics such as colonization, piracy, Catholicism, and slavery. Things have gone merely worldly concerns to some of the worst aspects of humanity. Finally, on the most remote circle, with the exception of El Dorado (which one could argue represents the pinnacle of obsession with wealth) strife in the form of war dominates. Whether reminding the reader of the Moguls and Genghis Khan, the Ming Dynasty, the instability of Moscow, the bloodshed that occurred when the Spanish encountered Montezuma, or the use of the humans taken for slavery in the prior circle, the widest reaches of this map are so foreign to Eden and Christian values that there is little framework to judge them against. Notably, western Europe and America are absent from this map. Milton seems to have felt they were not needed to illustrate the lesson Michael is intent on giving Adam—namely that the world is a large and unwholesome place, and that the farther one gets from Eden, literally the farther one gets from God’s presence on Earth, the worse things get. This is the kind of “literary sociology” that Moretti hopes will happen when elements are extracted from a text (57).


Moretti, Franco. Graphs, Maps, and Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History. London: Verso, 2007.