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Gutenkarte
June 25, 2006 9:18 PM   Subscribe

Gutenkarte: "Gutenkarte is a geographic text browser, intended to help readers explore the spatial component of classic works of literature. Gutenkarte downloads public domain texts from Project Gutenberg, and then feeds them to MetaCarta's GeoParser API, which extracts and returns all the geographic locations it can find." [note: works in Firefox but not IE, for me.]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken (16 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. That's why computers were invented. Looking forward to Moby Dick.
posted by marxchivist at 9:41 PM on June 25, 2006


stavrosthewonderchicken, Wow, this is marvelous! I always wished there were maps with certain books, especially some of the old ones with strangely spelled names, like the Himalayan Journals. It didn't work for me in Internet Explorer either but does work in FireFox.

Thank you!
posted by nickyskye at 9:41 PM on June 25, 2006


Very cool (until it crashed firefox on osx). But really, this is fantastic. Best of the web, etc. I love books with maps in them and spend half the time poring over the map as reading the text, sometimes, it seems. Great find.
posted by Rumple at 9:45 PM on June 25, 2006


I'd love to see a Google Maps/Earth mashup with this... but as it is, that's a fantastic application of online mapping that I never would have thought of. So cool!
posted by OverlappingElvis at 10:03 PM on June 25, 2006


Heh, Genesis is pretty cool.
posted by Jimbob at 12:24 AM on June 26, 2006


Wow, this is great, although the map for Heart of Darkness would seem to indicate that either their parser or the geo data they match it up with could use a bit of work (I'm fairly sure Conrad didn't put anybody's home address in the original text of his work, either).

From the Heart of Darkness map we learn that Jupiter is actually somewhere near Cuba, and yet on the War of the Worlds map, Mars doesn't even exist! (I suppose we'll need to wait for the interstellar version of the GeoParser API.) But still, this is a great idea.
posted by whir at 12:31 AM on June 26, 2006


Thanks for this. It looks very cool in theory and probably better than nothing, but...

Well, the Pride and Prejudice map shows the bad guy, Wickham, as two places, and shows Bingham, one of the good guys, as another place, and plots out various other unrelated places. This would just mess with a confused beginner, don't you think? I'll stick to specialty sites like this.

I just tried Huckleberry Finn for a second sample. It's all over the place, too. It has the right continent, but I don't recall anything in Huckleberry Finn happening in Paris (Texas) or China (Mexico).
posted by pracowity at 12:37 AM on June 26, 2006


but I don't recall anything in Huckleberry Finn happening in Paris (Texas) or China (Mexico).

But they might have been mentioned, I guess?
posted by Jimbob at 3:05 AM on June 26, 2006


But they might have been mentioned, I guess?

Paris (specifically the capital of France, not the place in Texas) and China (specifically the big country in Asia, not some place in Mexico) are mentioned in Huckleberry Finn a couple of times each, but you won't find them on that book's Gutenkarte map, which shows only North American locations.
posted by pracowity at 3:41 AM on June 26, 2006


See also Atlas of the European Novel, which takes it to the next step, comparing different novel-maps and finding interesting patterns and analysis.
posted by stbalbach at 5:46 AM on June 26, 2006


What pracowity said. I want to love this, it's a fantastic idea, but as it stands it's probably more frustrating than helpful, especially to someone who's using it for information rather than as a fun plaything. Jimbob's Genesis map shows Bela (one of the Cities of the Plain, along with Sodom and Gomorrah) as a town in Bulgaria, and the start of Around the World in 80 Days—"Mr. Phileas Fogg lived, in 1872, at No. 7, Saville Row, Burlington Gardens, the house in which Sheridan died in 1814"—has "Gardens" linked to someplace in the northwest US. But they say:
Ultimately, Gutenkarte will offer the ability to annotate and correct the places in the database, so that the community will be able construct and share rich geographic views of Project Gutenberg's enormous body of literary classics.
Which would be super.
posted by languagehat at 5:58 AM on June 26, 2006


stbalbach, that Moretti book looks great—I've just added it to my wishlist. While we're on the topic of related books, anyone who likes this website will love The Atlas of Literature by Malcolm Bradbury.
posted by languagehat at 6:02 AM on June 26, 2006


For everybody who is mentioning how some things are quite right on the maps, from the website:

Ultimately, Gutenkarte will offer the ability to annotate and correct the places in the database, so that the community will be able construct and share rich geographic views of Project Gutenberg's enormous body of literary classics.
posted by marxchivist at 8:16 AM on June 26, 2006


Oops, languagehat got that. Guess I should RTFC.
posted by marxchivist at 8:17 AM on June 26, 2006


Tough audience.

I think it's more interesting that they tried (and pointed the way towards more refined attempts later) than how imperfectly successful they were, you pedantic bastards (he said, with love).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:53 AM on June 27, 2006


I think it's more interesting that they tried (and pointed the way towards more refined attempts later) than how imperfectly successful they were

Oh, absolutely, and I'm grateful to them for doing it. But if us pedantic bastards don't point out the problems, how are they going to refine it?

I must say, I'm disgruntled and slightly baffled that this post didn't attract more comments. Come on, people: maps and books! Books and maps! Together! How can you not love it?
posted by languagehat at 5:40 AM on June 27, 2006


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