A Mapmaker's Dream

A Mapmaker's Dream

The Meditations of Fra Mauro, Cartographer to the Court of Venice
By James Cowan
 - Paperback


Shambhala Publications
Pages: 176
Size: 5 x 7.25
ISBN: 9781590305201
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 realize his life's work: to make a perfect map—one that represents the full breadth of Creation. News of Mauro's projects attracts explorers, pilgrims, travelers, 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 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 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.
News & Reviews

"Beautifully written." —New York Times

"We are enchanted-we are wrapped in that magic and strangeness that comes of a journey far from our own time and place, yet told in a vernacular we know." —Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Full of startling leaps of imagination and thought, this small gem of a book proves that the mind's desire can be as seaworthy a vessel as a schooner for exploring new worlds." —Publishers Weekly

"Marvelous not only at capturing time and place but also at recapturing the mentality of its milieu." —Booklist

"This lovely meditation will enchant many readers." —Library Journal

"Cowan's short novel is a thoughtful work, gently prodding the reader's mind to think in new directions." —The Examiner

"A genuinely entertaining book. Cowan successfully conveys the spirit of a time when the physical world was still infused with the ethereal." —The Observer

"I must say A Mapmaker's Dream threw me into a speechless whirl. This is a book that cannot be read without red wine; one of those rare works that requires underlining. It's quite extraordinary when a book successfully questions the shape of the world." —Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall

"To read this multilayered journey around the world and across time is to fall headlong into the emotional tumult of an antique map. James Cowan tells the farthest-flung adventure story through the eyes of a monk who never leaves his own cell. And every exotic word works." —Dava Sobel, author of Longitude

"A resonant work of historical fiction. . . . A marvelously romantic catalogue of antique ports and cities and continents. James Cowan ingeniously recreates Fra Mauro's life work. His book carries us into the mind of a genius." —Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered, National Public Radio

"An unquestionably brilliant contemplation of maps, both esoteric and exoteric, that propels the literary traveler into a series of philosophical and meditative twists and turns that never fail to astonish and provoke." —Rudolph Wurlitzer, author of Hard Travel to Sacred Places

Reader Reviews