Whereas most travel books tackle issues such as where to take lunch, The Atlas of Experience
applies the conventions of cartography to fundamental questions such as who are we?, where did we come from? and--more importantly--where are we going? The Passion Map
, for example, includes villages named "Expectation" and "Wait", while the accompanying text quotes Roman philosophers and the lyrics of Gerry Lee Lewis.
The original, simpler version of The Atlas of Experience was published in 1997. The publishers were intrigued, and persuaded Louise van Swaaij and Jean Klare to take their idea further. The two Dutch cartographers went on to develop a whole world of maps reflecting human life experience and emotions. The complete atlas went on to sell 100,000 copies in its first nine months.
When confronted with such an unusual book, it is tempting to mistrust a map to lands which do not exist. The authors' defence is surprising yet logical: "An atlas never just shows you where you are, where you want to go to and how to get there. It also fires the imagination." This book will certainly do that. Not for those who simply wish to get from A to B. --Daren King