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You can't miss Martin Vargic's Sea of the Absurd.
You can't miss Martin Vargic's Sea of the Absurd.

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The Map of Literature combines centuries of books and poems in one gorgeous illustration

Romanticism serves as the bridge between realism, enlightenment, and fantasy in 17-year-old Martin Vargic's meticulously comprehensive Map of Literature. Vargic is a self-appointed illustrator of brilliant worlds made out of our own ideas. The Map of Literature, which reviews writers of drama, poetry, nonfiction, and prose works, is one of 64 and infographics featured in his new book Vargic’s Miscellany of Curious Maps: Mapping Out the Modern World (Available in US/UK).

Literature Map

The literature map took Vargic three weeks to produce, and, like his other popular maps — including the viral Map of the Internet 1.0 — it includes such fine detail that the best experience is found by simply buying the hardcover edition. For example, the Theatrical Sea rests between Romanticism and Realism in the region of Drama, and deserves a longer study. By permission from the author and publisher, here are eight closer looks at elements of the literature map that help reveal its full glory.

Niche, American-friendly genres have their own subcontinents.

Santiago, the protagonist from Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, is fittingly settled on the edge of Lost Generation, across from American Realism. F. Scott Fitzgerald's Gatsby no longer lives along the shore, and has moved inland.

Martin Vargic

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn spend their days causing trouble in Mark Twain country, just as the author would have it.

You can almost see Tom pontificating about the world while whitewashing the fence for Aunt Polly, as Twain described: "He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it – namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain."

Martin Vargic

Jurassic Park is located between 1984 and Clear and Present Danger on the continent of Thrillers, a stone's throw away from H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds.

Martin Vargic

In Modernist Poetry, T.S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, Pablo Neruda, Herman Hesse, and Sylvia Path call one another neighbors.

All of these writers would have made fascinating neighbors, but Vargic's placement of each in proximity to others becomes nearly humorous when reflecting upon their work. Take, for instance, what it would have been like to live and know the confessional poet Sylvia Plath as a neighbor based on this excerpt from Blackberrying: "The only thing to come now is the sea. From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me, Slapping its phantom laundry in my face."

Martin Vargic

There is doubt that the experimental Dr. Moreau would be pleased to see his island so close to nonfiction waters.

Martin Vargic

No man is an island — except for the great Oscar Wilde.

Literature Map Wilde2

Maya Angelou's Phenomenal Woman lives along the beaches of Postmodern Sea, where tides of poetry and drama pull toward the shore as one.

Martin Vargic

The Literature Map also includes real-world data about publishing.

The United Kingdom was the top publisher for new titles in 2014, followed by China, the US, the UK, Russia, and Germany, according to the 2014 report on publishing by the International Publishers Association. Around the perimeter of the map, Vargic included lists of best-selling books and authors.

Martin Vargic

While there are opportunities for the literal-minded to call out some of the choices that Vargic made (such as the questionable "Chick Lit" alcove), he deserves credit for attempting to visualize the incredibly complicated history of literature. Vargic told Vox that while he finishes up his senior year of high school this year, and celebrates the publication of his new book, he's transitioning his free time to work on developing mobile games.

As for the age-old question: Where's Waldo? Couldn't find him.


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