Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"A Map of the Open Country of a Woman's Heart", c. 1833

Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Susan reporting:

Recently I posted a pictorial map of Loveland that showed a charmingly optimistic and romantic view of love in America during World War II. 

This map from the 1830s, left, shows another heart-shaped fictitious land: A Map of the Open Country of Woman's Heart, Exhibiting its internal communications, and the facilities and dangers to Travellers therein. While it's a drollery, intended to be humorous, one wonders how many women were laughing.  Like so many 19th c. publications, this one claims to be the work of A Lady – but from the cynical tone of many of this map's landmarks, it's much more likely the work of A Man. (Click on the map to enlarge it and see the details.)

True, at the very center of this map lies the City and District of Love, with the modestly sized regions of Hope, Enthusiasm, Good Sense, and Prudence not far away. But the names of other towns and areas are much larger and less flattering, and include Coquetry, Love of Admiration, Selfishness,Vanity, and Jilting Corner. There are rivers called Drain the Purse, Willful Waste, and (horrors) Novel-Reading.

Clearly we're supposed to believe that the owner of this particular heart was shallow, greedy, and untrustworthy. Perhaps the most unsavory regions of the map are those marked Love of Display and Love of Dress, featuring the Pyramids of Fashion and the Satin Plains. Beneath the Promontory of Golden Fetters lies the Sea of Wealth, with Old Man's Darling Bay flowing into the suggestively shaped Jewelry Inlet. Oof!

Above: A Map of the Open Country of Woman's Heart, by A Lady, published by D.W. Kellog & Co., Hartford, CT, c. 1833-1842. From the collection of the American Antiquarian Society, gift of Charles H. Taylor


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