A Mapmaker's Dream

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Random House Australia, 1997 - Cartography - 151 pages
4 Reviews
A compelling work of historical re-creation, philosophical intrigue and spiritural enquiry: a sixteenth century monk struggles to create a complete and perfect map of the world. In sixteenth century Venice, in an island monastery, a cloistered monk experiences the adventure of a lifetime - all within the confines of his cell. Part historical fiction, part philosophical mystery, A Mapmaker's Dream tells the story of Fra Mauro and his struggle to realise his life's work: to make a perfect map - one that represents the full breadth of Creation. News of Mauro's project attracts explorers, pilgrims, travellers and merchants, all eager to contribute their accounts of faraway people and places. As he listens to the tales of the strange and fantastic things they've seen, Mauro comes to regard the world as much more than just continents and kingdoms: that it is also made up of a vast and equally real interior landscape of beliefs, aspirations and dreams. Mauro's map grows and takes shape, becoming both more complete and more incomprehensible. In the process, the boundaries of Mauro's world are pushed to the extreme, raising questions about the relationship between representation, imagination, and the nature of reality itself. Praise for A Mapmaker's Dream: 'Full of startling leaps of imagination and thought, this small gem of a book proves that the mind's desire can be seaworthy a vessel as a schooner exploring new world's. US Publishers Weekly 'An unquestionably brilliant contemplation of maps, both esoteric and exoteric, that propels the literary traveller into a series of philosophical and meditative twists and turns that never fail to astonish and provoke.' Rudlolph Wurlitzer, author of Hard to Travel to Sacred Places 'To read this multilayered journey around the world and across time is to fall headlong into the emotional tumult of an antique map - one with sea serpents devouring ships and fair winds blowing out of cherubs' mouths. James Cowan tells the farthest-flung adventure story through the eyes of a monk who never leaves his cell. And every exotic word works. Dava Sobel, author of Longitude.

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A MAPMAKER'S DREAM: The Meditations of Fra Mauro, Cartographer to the Court of Venice

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

The subject of Cowan's (Messengers of the Gods, 1993, etc.) first novel—the thoughts of an intellectually adventurous Renaissance cartographer—should make it soar, but instead it remains painfully ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - thejohnsmith - LibraryThing

An interesting read detailing the discoveries of a monk who sets out to create a map of the known world from the stories of travellers who come to visit him. But he ends up learning so much more than ... Read full review

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About the author (1997)

James Cowan is the author of numerous internationally acclaimed books on a wide variety of subjects, including MESSENGER OF THE GODS and LETTERS FROM A WILD STATE: REDISCOVERING OUR TRUE RELATIONSHIP TO NATURE. He lives in Western Australia, where he directs a major arts program aimed at increasing the awareness of Aboriginal art throughout the world.

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