Mapping Robinson Crusoe for the Twenty-First Century: The Psycho-spatiality of the Marooned



Literary Mapping, Robinson Crusoe, topology, Minecraft, spatial.


This article explores the mapping of Robinson Crusoe in three distinct ways relating to cartographic change over time: through absolute, real-world and literary maps of the eighteenth century; by an integrated visual-verbal interpretation enabled by the generation of digital maps (topological graphs that are a literal map of the text); and through the immersive experience of reading and playing in a scale-map of the literary world made in the gaming platform, Minecraft. These interrelate and bear upon each other to enrich spatial understanding and interpretation in new ways for the 21st Century. The first section sets the context for exploring spatiality in Robinson Crusoe through the two maps presented alongside early editions of the text. The middle section combines a reading of Crusoe’s own psycho-spatial identification with the island with a reading of chronotopic (time-space) maps generated out of the coded text in digital space. The state of ‘being marooned’ results in a network of tropes that is repeated and re-enacted through the form of later Robinsonades across the nineteenth century and beyond. These tropes articulate a strong affective geography that the relative mapping of Crusoe’s Ur-narrative brings fully into focus. The final section of the paper explores the innate suitability of Robinson Crusoe and the Robinsonade for an immersive educational experience (Litcraft) that links reading and play using the Minecraft game-world.


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